A custody battle is brewing in St. Louis over the now-famous cat that darted across the field during a Cardinals game against Kansas City.
The feral feline who interrupted the Aug. 9 game while the bases were loaded, won the hearts of Cardinal fans when catcher Yadier Molina hit a home run on the next pitch after the delay, helping St. Louis win 8-5. The cat was credited with inspiring the grand slam, and dubbed "Rally Cat."
A grounds crew worker eventually caught the feisty feline, then lost it when he put the cat down to get treatment for bites.
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The Cardinals released a statement hoping that the cat would be found so the team could “properly care for it.” A day later, the cat was found by the St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach (STLFCO), the animal organization that is currently caring for the feline.
Now, the ownership of the animal is in dispute, with the shelter and Watermon exchanging catty comments on social media.
In a Facebook post Wednesday updating fans on Rally Cat's health status, the STLFCO said it had received "thousands of inquiries" about adopting the cat. The next day, Cardinals spokesman Ron Watermon told the St. Louis Post Dispatch that the center promised to give the cat to the team after a 10-day quarantine ends Monday.
The STLFCO fired back hours later, writing in a Facebook post that they made no such promise to Watermon and noting that making false statements goes against "The Cardinal Way."
"We have neither the PR staff nor the skilled volunteers to engage in a media dialog with Mr Watermon's old-school PR tactics, so this note will be all we have to say on his position," the statement read.
It goes on to say that the group contacted Watermon earlier in the week and "just now got a voicemail reply from him. Our Board Member team consists of non-paid volunteers who have full time jobs outside of STLFCO. Due to our many commitments and complex schedules, we told the Cardinals we'd be delighted to meet later this month, the first time the entire group can meet with them to discuss the situation."
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Watermon responded to the STLFCO in an email to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, saying, "It is personally hurtful to me, irresponsible and, frankly, childish," Watermon wrote. "There is no need for the organization to personally attack me for doing my job."
Meanwhile, the team is planning a Rally Cat Appreciation Night at Busch Stadium on Sept. 10. Feral Cat Outreach said it hoped the cat will be well enough to attend the ceremony. But as the spat plays out, it remains to be seen whether the guest of honor will make an appearance.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.