Stealing cats is more than a simple case of theft, a criminal act; it is also at least a form of cat cruelty and worse sometimes. Although the latter aspect of the crime has no bearing on the sentence of a convicted cat stealer if he or she is ever brought to justice, which is highly unlikely.
I was prompted into writing about stolen cats in light of the recent story of the theft of a kitten from a pet shop in Cardiff, Wales. The alleged thief is a Romanian woman, incidentally. The kitten was apparently being looked after by the pet shop proprietor while the owner was unable to.The kitten was not for sale. It appears that a Romanian gang that included children might be involved. However, at this stage that is unclear.
The kitten is a moggie and had a home. If the theft had gone undetected what would have happened to the kitten? One could foresee a traumatic series of unhappy events judging by the way the kitten was thrown into the bag by the thief.
What Happens To Stolen Cats?
Perhaps, purebred, pedigree cats are stolen for resale. Purebred cats can be worth several thousand dollars or pounds but are usually valued at around $500. I don’t believe there are statistics on the number of cat thefts in any country. There should be some sort of analysis because, I believe, that if all cat and dog thefts were reported the figures might surprise us. There are figures on lost pets but that is different (15% of people in the USA reported a lost cat in the past 5 years – quite a high figure).
You don’t know what happens to stolen cats. What might happen? Well, the cat might be sold to a new owner. That would put the cat through a very difficult time for several months potentially or even longer if the cat was introduced to a multi-pet household.
However, do criminals who steal cats from the streets really want to be bothered with advertising the sale of a cat in a shop window or on the internet? Perhaps they do but they might look for alternatives that are less humane.
Unsavory Destinations for Stolen Cats
Another possible destination is even less savory than selling the cat willy-nilly to anyone. There was a reported spate of mass outdoor cat thefts in France a few years ago. These cats were disappearing routinely and it was believed that the destination was the cat fur business in neighboring Switzerland. Cat fur is used in gloves and other clothing accessories in large quantities. Most of it comes from China where cats are picked up off the street – feral or owned it does not matter to the thieves.
The other gruesome possibility is the cat is killed for cat meat and consumed in Asian restaurants. This is routine in parts of Asia. I don’t know of it happening in Europe or the United States but it could well happen in these counties too. I would almost expect a Chinese restaurant somewhere in England to have cat meat on the menu.
Examples of Stolen Cats
Here are three examples from the Preloved website:
The first concerns a white moggie kitten stolen in the Hinckley area of England (the middle of England). The owner saw the theft because she cat describe the thief and her car. The thief was a blond haired women with a young son in a four wheel drive car.
It would appear that the thief stole the kitten for herself or her son. Perhaps her son saw the kitten and said he liked and the mother decided to take it. It might be as simple as that or it may not….
The next is a Maine Coon mix (see him below). He lives not far from the white kitten which is interesting but perhaps coincidental. He lives in Newark, Nottinghamshire. The owners believe he was stolen by someone who believed he was a Maine Coon. He has nice fur.
Is this theft a cat fur case or by someone who wanted a Maine Coon and couldn’t afford the price?
As another example and from the same general area there is a missing/stolen black Exotic Shorthair; a purebred cat. Here is a picture:
He was stolen or lost from Nottingham. Once again this is not far from the other two “stolen” cats.
It is an interesting but horrible thought that these cats might have been stolen by a gang of criminals for their fur. That is a wild and provocative guess, but it is possible. The fur of these three cats is very attractive.
On the news recently was a story about the mass theft of sheep from a field. They were valued at £10,000. There appears to be a lot of theft of easy targets by gangs from eastern continental Europe who come to Britain for easy pickings. That is my theory.
A lot of “property” goes unprotected. Animals, livestock or pets are often or usually left alone outside with no one supervising. They have a value. Sometimes they have a high value and they are easy steal. If it is not animals it might be lead roofs or copper cable along railway tracks. There is no doubt that this is organized gang crime.
Perhaps “The Times They Are a-Changin'” in the words of Bob Dylan. People in England might have to start changing their attitudes to letting their cats roam free no matter how attractive that idea seems to cat and person.
Smart criminals know that animal theft is not only relatively easy but also, and crucially, the police are no good at detecting animal theft crimes. Even worse is that people don’t even bother to report the theft of their cat or dog etc. because they don’t believe the police will do anything useful or purposeful about it. We have lost faith in the police force in the United Kingdom. Well not everyone, but I have.