BLOOMINGDALE, Ill., June 29 (UPI) -- A missing cat has sparked a conflict between two Illinois families after it was found living down the block from its original home after two years.
Joey, the 8-year-old Himalayan, was listed missing on microchip location site Pet Key by his owner Nichole Milone on September 27, 2013.
"Joey went missing from home. He is not wearing a collar and he weighs roughly 13 pounds," a message from the owner stated. "He is all white with blue eyes. He is very friendly and approachable."
WGN reports that on April 29, 2016, Milone discovered Joey living three doors away from her home with Shawnie and Steve Godke, who had cared for the cat since finding him in 2013.
"He was trying to come in for months upon months upon months," Shawnie Godke said. "And we said, 'Here is food and water, now go home kitty cat. You need to go home to your owners.'"
She added that Joey refused to go away and she decided to take in the cat, which appeared to be neglected, after being unable to contact his owners or find an address for him after having his microchip scanned.
"I assumed he was probably taken by a coyote or something," Milone said of Joey's extended absence. "What is the possibility that my cat is three doors down from my house this whole time?"
Milone attempted to reclaim her long lost pet after spotting him in the Godke's garden and confirming his identity by scanning his chip, but the family refused to let the cat go.
"I have a cat that has a chip and I can't get it back. So what's the point of the chip?" Milone said. "I'm not furious. I'm not mad at them. I think it's sad how they are handling the situation. I feel the same way that they did. He was part of my family."
The Godke's vet reportedly failed to return Joey to his proper home after searching for his chip on RFID-USA Microchip Registry - USA rather than the American Animal Hospital Association site where he was listed.
Both parties have hired lawyers and seek custody of the cat and the Godkes have requested a no-trespass order from police to prevent Milone from attempting to take back the cat herself.