Bitter Custody Case of a Cat Lands in High Court!

Alma van Zyl and her cat Eros

Alma van Zyl and her cat Eros

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA – “I want my little blue-eyed boy – my little lion – back.”

This was the very plea of a Pretoria woman to the city’s high court, who is embroiled in bitter legal proceedings with the new owner of her Sphynx cat called Eros.

Alma van Zyl stated in papers before court that Eros, her little prince, was the love of her life and in fact beauty personified.

But the fur is now literally flying between her and the cat’s new owner.

Eros has been cared for by Bernadette Willers, of Ruimsig in Roodepoort, since the end of the year 2012.

Willers refused to hand the cat back to Van Zyl arguing that apart from Eros being content with her and being well-cared for, his mental state was also now much better.

But Van Zyl, who has a tattoo of the cat, goes on to say that she had always been a devoted mother to Eros until he was removed from her care. She said Willers was refusing to hand the cat back, despite legal demands.

Van Zyl is now asking the court to instruct the Sheriff to fetch the cat and hand it back to her. But Willers’ defense is that Eros had suffered some mistreatment and abuse at the hands of Van Zyl and that he was malnourished.

She also stated she spent a lot of money on rehabilitating Eros, including anti-depressants, which she now wanted back.

Van Zyl’s misery started back in November 2012 when Eros had a panic attack. Van Zyl, in a panic herself as she was unable to calm the cat, called cat breeders Leon and Elize Swart.

It is claimed that they took the kitty and later re-homed him with Willers.

Both parties have called upon numerous experts, including animal behaviorists, to testify on their behalf as to what was in the best interests of Eros. Several of Van Zyl’s friends have also submitted affidavits, stating she was a devoted mother to Eros.

A vet stated he was called to the Swart’s home shortly after they removed Eros from Van Zyl.

The cat was severely stressed, he explained, and stayed in his igloo where he felt safe. The cat was very malnourished as it was previously fed a reduced calorie diet, he added. During a follow-up visit just a few months later – when Eros stayed with Willers – it was much happier. Eros was a lot less stressed out and the expert ascribed this to the loving care of Willers.

It would be unwise, and probably cruel, to take Eros away from his new home, he said. But Van Zyl said she never intended the Swarts to re-home Eros, only to assist with his anxious behavior.

Shortly after his removal and under the impression that he would be returned, Van Zyl sent text messages to Elize Swart, saying she could not wait until her little boy had recovered and was returned.

Van Zyl at that time vowed to be strong for his sake. “There is hope for my son. God is big, I do not give up,” she stated in an SMS to Elize, expressing her hope for his speedy recovery and eventual return to her.

Van Zyl stated the day she fetched Eros as a kitten was one of the happiest days in her life. “He was always with meâ. I had to endlessly throw my little boy’s toy mouse, telling him Erossie, go fetch your moussy’.”

Her friends have all stated that she was shattered without her Eros. They all vowed to testify, even under oath, to try to convince the court to return her cat.

The trial has been postponed indefinitely. A legal expert stated a trial such as this could cost the parties hundred of thousands in legal fees.