Adams Morgan resident Lorelei Kelly has a tale of woe, Washington, and cat kidnapping. But the alleged villains aren’t who you’d think: They’re animal rescue volunteers.

“This just strikes me as ‘only in D.C.'” Kelly says. “I feel like this is someone who didn’t get their Senate confirmation hearing.”

When Kelly adopted her cat Sharky in 2011, she was hoping for a pet. Instead, she got a mess. Sharky seemed nervous staying inside all day and started to attack Kelly’s upholstery.

After months of living with an edgy cat—-and $1,500’s worth of shredded furniture—-Kelly tried something new, allowing Sharky to enter and exit the house as he pleased through a cat door. By doing so, Kelly was violating an agreement she had made with Homeward Trails, the D.C.-area animal rescue association through which she had adopted Sharky.

“‘You’re probably not going to live as long because you’re outdoors,'” Kelly recalls thinking about her cat. “‘That’s what all the documentation says, but you’ll have the life you want.'” Indeed, outdoor cats tend to live shorter lives than indoor ones. But Kelly couldn’t have known by how much.

One day last month, Kelly discovered Sharky had disappeared. After waiting two days, she started to think he wasn’t simply on one of his usual walkabouts. Instead, Kelly claims, Homeward Trails stole him back as punishment for letting him outside.

“I think they probably did a drive-by and just scooped him because he’s a complete floozy for people,” Kelly says. A cat resembling Sharky has appeared on Homeward Trails’ list of adoptable cats, but Kelly hasn’t been able to adopt him.

Kelly acknowledges she could have violated Sharky’s adoption agreement. She stresses it’s the alleged snatch-and-grab methods with which she disagrees.

As for how the animal rescue group could have found out about Sharky’s outdoor tendencies, Kelly has her suspicions.

“Somebody in our neighborhood narced on us that he was outside,” Kelly says. “It was like the Cat Stasi.”

Update, 10:50 a.m.: Sue Bell, Homeward Trails’ executive director, says that Sharky was given to the group by a concerned resident who saw the cat in the street. Bell says the group has heard from several people who worried Sharky would get hit by a car.

“She signed a legally binding contract she was supposed to be abide by,” Bell says.

Photo by Lorelei Kelly