"I am willing to go to jail and sleep with cockroaches over this, because this animal has a right to life," Rebecca Katz said

By Robyn Merrett
August 16, 2019 08:09 AM
Rebecca Katz
Long island News12

A 15-year-old Tabby cat named Tigger has been reunited with his owners after being stolen by the family’s nanny, who was desperate to keep him alive amid her employer’s desire to euthanize it.

Rebecca Katz, 33, had been caring for employers Julie and Russell Berman’s two kids in Long Island, New York when she developed a strong affinity for Tigger.

Katz told the New York Post that the Bermans started talking about euthanizing the cat about two years ago due to his “behavioral issues.”

The cat also suffered from a number of medical issues, including stomach problems and a mass that has not yet been diagnosed, the New York Post reported.

Katz claimed to the outlet that Julie “threatened to give him the needle every other day,” adding that she would stay awake at night crying “because I didn’t know that the cat would be there the next day.”

That’s when Katz explained that she offered to adopt Tigger, but the Bermans refused to give him up.

In July, Katz said Julie told her “Tigger just threw up on my nice couch… Once he throws up on my nice furniture, that’s the end, he’s getting the boot, he’s getting the needle,” she told the New York Post.

That’s when Katz took matters into her own hands.

“I am willing to go to jail and sleep with cockroaches over this, because this animal has a right to life,” Katz told The Post.

She explained to the New York Post that she wrote the family a note saying, “I can’t let this happen,” before proceeding to run off with Tigger.

“I admitted to everything,” in the note, Katz told the outlet.

Once she was gone, Katz revealed to the New York Post that she got a text from Julie who said, “You had no right to take him, bring him back or I’m calling the police.”

Julie kept her word and reported the incident to police, telling officers that Tigger was worth $500.

Katz admitted that she felt so guilty that she turned herself in on July 8. She was charged with petit larceny, NBC News reported.

However, Tigger still remained in her possession.

It wasn’t until Monday night that Tigger was recovered.

Police seized the feline from a home in Oceanside and was then returned to the Bermans, NBC News reported.

According to Katz’s lawyer Carolyn Sanchez, the method in which Tigger was seized was improper, NBC News reported.

When they arrived to the residence, police said they were there to issue Katz’s husband a bench warrant unrelated to the case, but instead took the cat, Sanchez told NBC News.

“There were shenanigans involved in the taking of the cat,” Sanchez told the outlet.

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The Nassau County Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Julie and Russell admitted in court papers, obtained by News 12 Long Island, that they had planned to have Tigger euthanized “due to medical issues and our pet living in pain over recent months.”

Now, those plans have changed.

Sanchez told NBC News that the Bermans will give Tigger proper care and not have him put down.

“The Bermans appear to be sincere and I’m hopeful that they will do the right thing by this cat,” Sanchez told NBC News.

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For Katz, it’s always been about what’s best for Tigger. While in her care, she reportedly spent more than $1,000 on veterinarian visits, according to NBC News.

“At the end of the day, if they have had a change of heart and they are going to get him proper medical care and give him full love, then Tigger has won,” Katz told NBC News. “If they don’t, well then, society can treat them how they deserve to be treated.”

Katz is expected to appear in court on September 6. Sanchez did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.