A stray cat is at the heart of a tug-of-love between the family claiming to have raised it from a kitten and its current owner.
Holbeach man David Baumber was overjoyed when he spotted what he believes to be his cat Felix in a picture in the Lincolnshire Free Press earllier this month.
The black and white cat was pictured in the arms of Peter Flett, who had been nominated for A Service with a Smile award for his work at Fensever Kennels in Whaplode, which he owns.
Mr Baumber said Felix, who he had raised since he was just four weeks old, had gone missing from his Holbeach home about 18 months ago, but he had never given up hope of him coming back.
But his joy soon turned sour when he contacted Mr Flett to claim the cat.
Mr Flett believes the cat he calls Jester is not Mr Baumber’s Felix and has refused to hand him over.
He claims Mr Baumber is unable to accurately describe the cat, which a vet had estimated is too young to be Felix and does not bear a scar on his head which Mr Baumber says he has.
Mr Baumber said: “We are totally heartbroken. We treated Felix like a child, that’s what he meant to us.
“In the year and a half since he went we haven’t got another cat because I’ve always believed he would come back.
“I knew it was him as soon as I saw the picture in the paper and several friends and family rang to say they had seen him too.
“My fiancee is disabled and she’s been in floods of tears because he just won’t let us have Felix back.”
Unfortunately Mr Baumber had not had Felix microchipped so he has no way of proving the cat is his.
Mr Flett says the cat has lived as his pet for almost a year since he walked into the yard at the kennels.
He said: “It was with another cat when it walked into my yard.
“The cat has had every opportunity to leave but it is obviously happy here and has chosen to stay.
“It is also a long way for a cat to stray.
“Mr Baumber was unable to tell me how many white feet his cat had and although the vet said it is difficult to be certain she thinks Jester is possibly only three or four years old, whereas Mr Baumber’s cat would be six years old.
“I am very confident that this is not his cat.”