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.

Stolen cat? Collar found but no cat – indicates stolen?

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:

Stolen white kitten

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.

Stolen Maine Coon Mix

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:

Stolen/Lost Exotic Shorthair

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.

Please comment here using either Facebook or WordPress (when available).
Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • Its heartbreaking if your pet is stolen or missing.I am surprised to read about the use of cat fur in the hosiery business and could be that many long fur cats are stolen for their pelt.I vividly remember animal activists with posters outside Harrods in London depicting the brutal skinning of "Farmed animals" for the fur business, requesting Harrods to stop selling "Animal pelts". Cat fur could easily be counterfeited for other expensive pelts and my guess is that many cats might be butchered by cat thieves as it could be a very lucrative business in some country's.remember, thieves exist in all societies, only difference is the difference in products stolen. In India, cat thieves are non-existent unless your cat has strayed out of the house and gets lost in the street or is picked up and looked after by another stranger.

  • Our friends owned a motel when I was a kid and they often would find their cat Roger in people's rooms at the motel. Were they planning to abduct him? We kids found that hilariously funny because Roger had bad gas almost all the time. Ha, ha.
    My mom and her sisters on more than one occasion lost a pet cat because tourists took him. My grandparents ran a boat rental, with cottages for rent across the street, next to my great uncle's bait shop. Why tourists would take a cat, I don't know, but my mom said she saw her cat in somebody's car more than once. Grandpa refused to challenge the people about this because he didn't want to insult customers, drive away business. What if you were wrong and it wasn't your cat? So the tourists would just take the cat, probably to dump it somewhere.
    I think our cat Tiger was probably dumped by tourists, either their cat or a cat they stole and got tired of. I realize that living in a tourist town you have to be glad for tourists coming because they are your livelihood. They paid my way through college in a way. But when people go on vacation they behave differently. It's as if because no one knows them there they can do anything they want. Because who would take a little girl's cat and just drive away with him?

    • Ruth, you describe what to me what I would call "casual criminality". It seems all so careless and effortless. But these are cats, living creatures that are used to a certain area and have a connection (I hope) with the caretaker person.

      I think it reflects the causal relationship some people have with their cat. It seems some people don't mind losing their cat that much. Maybe they get used to it if they have lots of cats that go out.

    • That's very sad and must have been very hard for you if you cat was just taken. A bit traumatic if you really loved the cat.

  • In Slovenia the gipsys steal copper roofing and cables. You just can't have it or they will find it and steal it. If the scrap metal merchants didn't buy it then the game would be over. Perhaps there could be licensing for scrap metal collection and sale.Our cat in Slovenia disappeared. He was friendly but not overly. We put up signs everywhere and looked everywhere. The ones we put up in our own (large) building kept being removed. This led me to think somebody stole him and the perpitrator or a friend is taking down the posters we were putting up. The building management would not allow us to look at the cctv files.
    He never came back and nor did we ever find his body. It's awful. He might still be alive in our building just up high on the 11th floor. My ex still lives there and she said another couple had the same thing happen. Lost cat and signs being taken down. This is in the poorest area of Ljubljana the capital of Slovenia. It's government housing - big blocks. Most people are from Bosnia or Macedonia Albania Serbia Russia Ukraine. It's not like you could sell a cat in Slovenia either though and he was a typical tabby boy cat called Pepe. It's heartbreaking to think of him and if he is still alive or what horrors might have happened to him. He could not live indoors because he grew up outdoors. We tried but he would poop all over the place til we opened the window. Luckily we lived on the first floor and he could climb down.

    Sometimes I think some mean old granny just took him because she wanted him. He was nice - infact we met him because our old landlord in our previous place left him outside all year round. He had too obnoxious dogsd too so poor Pepe was out in the winter and we immediatley let him in. I was shocked when the landlord was totally fine about us bringing him with us when we moved. He was not attached to him at all. How sad. We gave hime a wonderful life until he disappeared.

    Because of the person taking down the posters I can only assume he was stolen either to keep or torture - or he was poisoned because he was going in somebody's garden and they wanted to hide the fact. 2 out of 3 chances he was stolen. I am still thinking of rigging up a camera when I go there and getting the person who takes down the posters. I'd follow them to their apartment and then once I knew where they lived I would take it from there. Now I dont live there I wouldnt be scared of doing the person some real serious damage - I think I would be so angry to finally have the person I might not behave safely.

  • Why do people feel the need to steal? Especially to steal living creatures, as if it's not bad enough stealing inanimate possessions.
    Yes I suppose eventually as some of the people in this world get even more corrupt and it gets more unsafe outside, all cats even in the UK, will be kept prisoners. It makes my heart ache as cats love and deserve some freedom but they do deserve to be kept safe too, so we can't win! It's not even safe for children to play out now as we were able to, whatever has gone wrong with the human race to come to this?
    It was written in the stars when humans first domesticated cats that one day they would own them completely, as they own many other species of animal and are desperate to own wild creatures too.
    I feel so very sad that this world, meant to share, is being taken over commpletely by humans without a thought as to what is being taken from animals.
    We are lucky in our local police and Babz and I work quite closely with them as we co-ordinate our Neighbourhood Watch and have got to know the nicer and caring ones.
    I suppose it's different in a big city like London.

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