The flim-flammer jumped in the flivver and faded.

Ming was a cool cat. He had nine lives to live, but he lived them two at a time. Turned out to be no Sunday School picnic though, as it was discovered that he had been splitting his time as "the family cat" between two New Zealand families. 

Ming (AKA Cleo) went back and forth between homes for ten years and never mentioned the one family to the other. Sure, there were signs. His collar with his name and number had been removed. He was often late for dinner, or would show up having already been fed. He was shadier than the spot under his favorite tree during a cloudy night. But neither family realized that there was another family out there loving him. Love can be blinding.

Now the two families are in a dispute over who the cat belongs to, and the ASPCA refuses to settle the case. Here are the facts:  

Family 1: the Alexander Family

Ming "at home" with one of the Alexanders. (Via Stuff)

The Alexanders were the first family to have actually picked out and bought the Siamese Lothario in 2000 and named him Ming. No, not after the Ming dynasty, but because he was a very sociable cat who loved to mingle. Little did they know how far Ming would take the mingling. 

The Alexander family understood Ming's nature and would let him stray, knowing that he would always return. There was an understanding there. Once, Ming fell asleep on a garbage truck and ended up in the 'burbs, but he was discovered and returned. According to the matriarch of the family, Alice Alexander, "Everyone knew Ming, and I would often get calls saying he was in someone's house." 

Everyone knew, eh? Then why were Ming's disappearances becoming more frequent? And then why, in 2010, did Ming disappear for four years? That time for the Alexanders crawled by like a sick cockroach. Something didn't add up.

Family 2: The Smith Family

A Smith with Cleo, their "beloved pet." (Via Stuff)

The Smith family lived "next door and down the hill" from the Alexanders. They found the cat in 2005 as he was mingling with them so, naturally, they named him Cleo. 

Cleo? That's a dame's name. It was clear the Smiths didn't know Ming, but why? Did they remove Ming's collar or did he remove it himself? How much did this family actually know?

In 2010, the Smith family flew the coop and blew off to another town. As the family pet, they took Cleo with them.

The Return to Double Life 

In 2014, the Smith family moved back to the home next to the Alexanders, and Ming reappeared on the roof of the Alexander's glasshouse and began meowing. Alice couldn't believe it. 

"I picked it up and realized it was Ming. I was running scenarios through my head, wondering where he had been," she told Stuff. 

But Ming didn't sing. This cat was tough. As tough as a nickel steak.

Determined not to lose him again, she got Ming microchipped. Even though Ming was a purebred, they couldn't take the stray out of the cat. He kept leaving to lead his double life with the Smith family, at one point returning to the Alexander family with a shaved paw, indicating that someone had been covering Ming's vet visits. 

Ming had been busted by the evidence, but nothing could make him squeal.

"I knew then that someone had him so I put up more missing cat posters and one week later, a lady got in touch to let me know Ming was living with them."

The case had been cracked wide open.

Now that Ming/Cleo's secret life is out in the open, realities have been shattered and no one knows where to go. Of course, it seems reasonable to let the 15-year-old animal choose for himself, allowing him to go back and forth between the homes as he sees fit. But what if the Smiths decide to move again and take Cleo with them? 

Only one thing is clear, Ming/Cleo is too much cat for one family, but not enough for two.

Never fall in love with a cat. 

(by Myka Fox)

Sources: Stuff