Is Frankie the Cat amassing toys to distribute to all good cats and kittens at Christmas, or is he a cat burgler maliciously stealing toys from all his neighbor cats?
This stealthy UK cat burglar has a particular affinity for toy leopards — he’s brought home over 15 in the last year. And he’s gotten his claws into 35 teddies and soft toys, obviously from neighbor’s homes
He drags each one of his finds through the catflap before depositing them on exactly the same spot in the living room.
His owner, Julie Bishop, said, “Frankie looks very pleased with himself when he comes in with these presents. He’s been going out of the house and coming back with all these toys for pretty much as long as he’s been allowed out. They’re all soft toys for cats I think. About 15 of them are all the same leopard. He doesn’t really play with them. He dumps them down and goes out looking for something else.”
Frankie’s 2008 haul has included teddy bears, leopards and a giant squeaky beefburger. So, Julie has plastered her home town of Swindon with posters to locate the rightful owners and return the toys to their homes.
Julie got Frankie from a Wiltshire farm in 2006. She said, ‘I’d be interested to find out what’s happening when he goes out. Frankie is quite independent and comes in and out of the cat flap all through the day and night. He’s quite a friendly cat and likes to sleep on your shoulder, although he lets you know if he wants to be on his own.’ (Sounds like Frankie needs a Cooper Cam!)
Two weeks ago Frankie stole two green witch’s heads. (Perhaps he’ll use them to cast a spell on Julie to compel her to buy him more Temptations!) He has also swiped a range of old socks, nappy sacks, half-eaten beefburgers and chips – as well as the traditional dead mice and birds.
My family has had its own humorous experiences with cat burglars. My Siamese, Mao, used to go dumpster diving and regularly brought home old bagels and pastries (I can’t tell you how weird it is to walk into the kitchen in the morning to find food that is not yours on the floor.) My sister’s Cat, Eddie (a gregarious Ginger), routinely scours the neighborhood for food which he hands over to their ancient diabetic Springer Spaniel. Once Eddie brought home (hauling it over the 6-foot-fence) a half-barbecued T-bone steak — hot off the grill. Another time he showed up with a live baby chicken.
[PHOTO/STORY CREDIT: The Daily Mail UK
You won’t see many garden gloves in Seattle’s Phinney Ridge neighborhood. Unless you check inside an orange bucket at the end of Diano Garcia’s driveway. Garcia harbors the fugitive glove thief, who has been described as a middle-aged male with medium-length hair, green eyes, and a penchant for Temptations. He answers to the name “Houdini.”
There are dozens of gloves in the orange bucket waiting for their owners to claim them. A note apologizes for the klepto cat.
“I would come home and it looked like someone laid out an art collection of single gloves,” says Diano Garcia.
“Most people just come by and laugh. They read the sign and it’s funny for them,” says Garcia.
Victim Ramon Shiloh says, “I’ve lost latex gloves, I do a lot of artwork. And I’ve seen my own latex gloves in the driveway,” he said.
“If there were one-handed gardeners out there, they wouldn’t care, but I want my glove.”
Like all the klepto kittys, Houdini’s “specialty” falls into a specific category of loot — in this case, gloves — and he pinches nothing else. Gloves are a favorite of klepto cats. Other categories include socks, underwear, stuffed animals and shoes.
It’s been theorized that the klepto disorder is related to Pica and may involve some form of miswiring which leads to identification of these items as potential prey.
Whatever the cause, Houdini is not giving up his thieving ways anytime soon because there’s fresh kill on Houdini’s front porch: two more mismatched gardening gloves.
If you have an outdoor cat, you’ve no doubt been the beneficiary of “gifts” from Fluffy on your doorstep: various forms of rodentia, birds, reptiles and maybe even an amphibian or two.
In the UK, 12-year-old Oscar the Cat has eschewed dead critters in favor of more utilitarian gifts, including 10 pairs of children’s underpants and dozens of women’s knickers. He commits as many as 10 robberies a day.
It started innocently enough with socks and garden gloves, but quickly escalated. In addition to the undies, Oscar has also brought home a knee pad and a paint roller.
In recent weeks he has brought home about 70 items. Not wanting to be charged as accomplices, his owners, Peter and Birgitt Weismantel, ratted him out to police.
The Weismantels adopted Oscar last Christmas from Cats Protection. His crime spree began shortly thereafter. They theorize that his behavior is a way of showing them how much he appreciates them for giving him a furrever home. “We feel that he is bringing us presents as a token of appreciation, an offer to help pay his way,” says Mr Weismantel.
Maggie Roberts, director of veterinary services at Cats Protection, said: “Cats generally bring prey or other items back to the core area of their territory where they feel safe, usually the house for domestic cats.
“This is a natural behaviour that is completely normal and isn’t a cause for concern.”
Kleptomania among cats is more common than you might think, and interestingly, most cats specialize in a particular type of loot. Jess only steals stuffed animals. Podge the Cat stole only shoes, and his mother stole rugby socks. Carlos the Cat prefers woolens. Dandelion steals socks. Tisiphone steals pencils.
Cat behaviorist Sarah Heath, author of Why Is My Cat Doing That? says, “Kleptomania is reported in cats and there is some suspicion that it may be related to Pica and may involve some form of miswiring which leads to identification of these items as potential prey.”
To watch a video of another klepto kitty caught in the action see: