Photo Credit: Jeff Roberson/AP

The Cardinals are planning a “Welcome Home” ceremony for a cat the team is publicly calling “ours,” even though they have not yet been granted custody by St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach, the local organization currently responsible for the feline and the process of finding it a new home.

The cat ran on the field during the team’s game against the Royals last week, inspiring a Yadier Molina grand slam that led the creature to be dubbed Rally Cat. The Cardinals then lost the cat after the employee who removed it from the field set it down while treating his bite wounds. A few days later, the cat—or, at least, one who bore a convincing resemblance—was found and turned over to St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach.

As soon as Rally Cat was taken in by the outreach center, the Cardinals put in a request for adoption. At the time, the center had not made a decision about what to do with the cat.

A few days later, the Cardinals have thrown themselves into the planning process for kitty adoption in earnest. They are planning a “Welcome Home” ceremony at the ballpark next week, as well as a “Rally Cat Appreciation Day” next month. They have called the cat “ours” in a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The team’s vice president of communications, Ron Watermon, has offered this:

“Rally Cat will be cared for by our team, making the Cardinals Clubhouse his home. Mike [Matheny] and our players are looking forward to loving and caring for him.”

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One problem—the cat is not yet theirs! And there is no guarantee that it will be theirs! Here’s what the St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach had to say to the Post-Dispatch:

“We’ve had thousands of inquiries from throughout the region, including many great organizations like the St. Louis Cardinals, in addition to many cat-loving individuals about adopting Rally.”

The center said it had an adoption process in place, and the most important thing is for Rally to have a happy and healthy life.

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The Cardinals claim they have been told by the center that the cat will be “returned” to them after a mandatory 10-day quarantine period. The center did not confirm this to the Post-Dispatch and also noted that the cat will need to be neutered and start gaining weight before it is placed with a new home. While they said that they hoped the cat would be ready to make its first public appearance at the “Rally Cat Appreciation Day” next month—a partnership which will raise money for the center—they seemingly did not acknowledge the “Welcome Home” ceremony.

It is now up to St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach to determine whether living in a ballpark with Mike Matheny as caretaker qualifies as a “happy and healthy life.”

[St. Louis Post-Dispatch]