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.”
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Read more about klepto cats here.