BLOOMINGDALE, Ill. -- One cat. Two families. And a whole lot of mystery about what happened over the past two and a half years.
One woman says her cat went missing in September of 2013.
Another woman says a cat was begging to come into her home at exactly the same time. She and her husband let it in and kept the cat for two and a half years claiming they couldn't locate the owner.
Meanwhile, the original owner has been living three doors away from the cat and never knew it all this time
Joey is the Himalayan cat at the center of this tale and he is tugging at the heart strings of two Bloomingdale families.
Joey was adopted by Nichole Milone in March of 2011. With taxes, she paid $1100 for him and has the papers to prove he was micro chipped.
But Shawnie and Steve Godke have been caring for Joey for the last two and half years after the white cat darkened their door day after day, they claim.
Shawnie says the cat was abused, neglected and unwanted. 2013 photos show Joey when his fur was matted, dirty and he was filled with burrs.
That cat, she and her husband contend, found them.
"He was trying to come in for months upon months upon months,” she says. “And we said, ‘Here is food and water, now go home kitty cat. You need to go home to your owners.’"
But he kept coming back, she says.
Meanwhile, just three doors down in September of 2013, Nichole Milone filed a police report, contacted her microchip manufacturer PetKey and posted a hundred or so of these fliers all over town at animal shelters, the police station, even local grocery stores looking for her indoor/outdoor cat Joey. Nothing.
"I assumed he was probably taken by a coyote or something,” Nichole says.
Fast forward two and a half years later to April 29, 2016.
Nichole was entering her yard from the back and happened to glance up at her neighbor’s home where she says she saw her own cat.
“What is the possibility that my cat is three doors down from my house this whole time?"
Pretty good apparently.
Nichole called police, had his microchip scanned and it was indeed Joey.
Police won't press charges and the Godkes refuse to give up their prized pet. They admit they never reached out to police or any animal shelters when they took Joey in. They relied solely on the microchip system to reunite this cat with its rightful owner.
One problem: Their vet looked up the chip number on just one website: RFID-USA Microchip Registry - USA. It showed "microchip unregistered". If you plug in that same 10-digit number on the American Animal Hospital Association site, missing cat Joey comes right up and links you with the PetKey people.
And when you simply Google "Joey missing cat Bloomingdale Illinois,” PetKey's link is the first one listed.
Also, the Godkes have been calling the cat Joey from almost the start. How is that possible if they never knew the animal before it showed up at their home? They say a neighbor in the same subdivision told them about the name. So they went with it.
Shawnie says, "This neighbor that told our neighbor said that this cat must be from somewhere in the subdivision and that woman heard his name must somehow be Joey. … My focus was on what was best for this animal. And if this person that decided to give it that type of life wanted it back, then that person was going to have to come and make themself available."
Nichole says she has tried.
"I have a cat that has a chip and I can't get it back. So what's the point of the chip? 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."
So what now? Police say there is no criminal intent in this case. They refuse to press charges. Both sides have hired lawyers.
They both want Joey the Cat. In fact, the Godkes have even requested a no-trespass order from police so the Milone family risks arrest if they try to go to the Godke home.
A "for sale" sign already sits in the Godkes front yard. Shared cat custody not a likely resolution.