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SAN DIEGO – Residents of a neighborhood in Clairemont are rallying around a family that says another resident has their cat and won’t give it back.

The cat, named Ghost, wandered away from the home of Kirsten Miceli about two and a half months ago. Miceli and her daughters posted flyers about their lost pet around the neighborhood. They even posted a flyer in front of a house about a block away, only to learn on Monday that their lost cat has been living there since it disappeared. While they were outside the home, they heard the residents talking inside.

 “They were saying, ‘They’re looking for the cat! They’re looking for the cat,’ and we thought maybe they were referring to the flyers,” Miceli said. “Turns out they had our cat this whole time.” 

On Monday, another neighbor saw Ghost in the window of the home and told Miceli. 

“We got this cat during the pandemic — during the start of the pandemic —  and he brought so much joy to our family,” Miceli said. “I showed (the man who has Ghost) pictures of the cat.  I explained (my daughters’) deep suffering from losing our family member. He’s like. ‘Oh wow, that cat came here months ago and we’re super attached to him, and we’re not going to give him back.’” 

After failed attempts to convince the man to return the cat, Miceli called the police.

“He said, ‘Go ahead, write me up. I don’t care.’ So the cops wrote him a citation for petty theft,” Miceli said. “We have a court date for February 7.” 

The man who has Ghost did not want to go on camera, but did not deny he has the cat.  He declined to answer questions face to face, but he had a lot to say through the window of his home. 

“Yesterday at 2 o’clock, (Miceli) showed up at my door banging, yelling, screaming about some cat that was stolen. I took in a cat two-and-a-half months ago and fed it,” he said, “That cat comes and goes. I do not care that much about it. The police agreed with me and told her to leave and said we would deal with this in the courts.” 

Miceli’s fiancé, carrying their newborn baby, knocked on the door again Monday and tried to work out an agreement.  Miceli said that he offered to pay the man for the expenses he incurred caring for the cat and to buy him another cat. 

“He screamed at (my fiancé) and said, ‘You’re lucky to be holding that baby right now or else I would beat you up,’ and then called him a few names and told him to get the hell off his porch!” 

Miceli and about two dozen neighbors rallied in front of the man’s house Tuesday evening, clapping and chanting “Let Ghost go! Let Ghost go!” Their effort to pressure the man to return the cat appeared to fall on deaf ears.

Wednesday morning, Miceli received a text from the landlord of the family that has Ghost. The landlord said that the rental agreement for the house expressly forbids pets and that the tenant had agreed to get rid of the cat.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Miceli had not heard from the family that has her cat. FOX 5 will update this developing story as more information becomes available.