A sign intended to alert neighbors about a thieving cat has spread far beyond the local community, transforming a kleptomaniac kitty into a minor celebrity.
Kate Felmet of Beaverton, Oregon
, told KOIN that she put up a sign so her neighbors could retrieve their belongings that Esme, her charismatic black
cat, had snatched.
A large homemade sign with a drawing of Esme with a glove in her mouth and a small clothesline with numerous gloves and a face mask
reads, “MY CAT IS A THIEF.”
So far, it appears to be working.
mostly stop to take pictures, but we had a school bus come by and take a few pairs of gloves,” Felmet told KOIN.
The sign quickly went viral
on social media
, with many Twitter
users sharing stories about their own cats
bringing home stolen goods.
— Dick King-Smith HQ (@DickKingSmith) June 10, 2021 pic.twitter.com/fgr0vC4Z0O
We had a cat burglar who brought home (at various times) odd
socks, mail, photographs, a T-shirt, and a bag of medium length cable ties, and who had to sneak around re-posting letters through neighbours' doors on a regular basis. — Annie calvey (@annie_calvey) June 10, 2021
Ollie was an indoor cat, and he brought us gifts
from our basement: a lint brush from the dryer, rubber gloves, curls of wood if my husband had used the plane but had not swept up, and small containers of screws and nails. — Suzanne Gerhold (@Suzanne47) June 10, 2021
I used to sleep
with a knife under my pillow
because my cat used to come home with the collars of other cats; I was convinced he was a cat serial killer, and these were his trophies. pic.twitter.com/bY7Nl0aWrF — spite is my motivation (@1EEX303) June 11, 2021
My cat had a thing for paintbrushes and once brought home a set of three brand new ones, which we only caught him when he got stuck trying to bring the largest one through the cat flap. We never found out who they belonged to. — Booniss Everdrunk (@bookiesnacksize) June 11, 2021
According to cat behavior site The Conscious Cat, which addressed the phenomenon in 2018, there are a number of reasons why cats might engage in this type of "gifting" or "collecting" behavior. The site compared it to cats bringing home dead mice and birds that they've hunted.
Cats may simply be acting on a “prey-retrieval” instinct to bring their “prey,” which in some cases may simply be inanimate objects they find, to a safe place; however, it is also possible that these cats are bringing home gifts for their human family as a “compliment,” a thank-you for caring for them, or even as a way to help the people they regard as pathetically unskilled hunters.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Ingrid King wrote a post about cat "gifting," when in fact it was a guest post by Will Hodges on her website, The Conscious Cat.