The story of a man in Cambridgeshire, UK, spotted trying to steal cats with a net, in plain daylight on the street, highlights a spate of cats thefts from that county and the dangers inherent in allowing cats to wonder freely outside. It also reminds us that the reports of stolen cats in the UK may only be the tip of the iceberg. We simply do not know how many cats are stolen because we don’t know how many cats are lost as they are rarely reported. There is very little difference in real terms between a lost or stolen cat. They have both disappeared and nobody knows the circumstances. Of course, you have to throw into the pot another possible outcome which is the death of the cat. All three are possibilities to outside cats.
There is a very peculiar story on the Cambridge Live website. It reports that two men were spotted trying to steal cats with a net. A cat owner, Liz Avory, was outside her home clearing out her van in the town of Chatteris at 7:30 PM on July 20. Her cat had joined her. Two men approached. She did not recognise them and both had “dark tans and dark hair and were of slim build. One of the men had a ‘net-like’ thing that to me looked like a capture net that was ready to be thrown towards my cat”.
She screamed at her cat who ran away which apparently saved him from being stolen. The men disappeared quickly. The police have been contacted about suspicious activity in Chatteris.
This strange story follows on from reports in June 2018 of a “massive increase in the theft of dogs in Cambridgeshire” and the theft of cats but in lower numbers. From May 2016 to May 2018 seven cats were stolen some of whom were purebred, pedigree cats.
There may be ongoing problems with criminal gangs from the continent of Europe coming into England to steal cats and ship them back to the continent. Of course I’m speculating but I sense that this is happening. It’s impossible to be sure. Cats wander around at night furtively. The thieves wander around at night furtively as well. Nobody sees them. The police are powerless. This sort of crime can go on for a long time undetected under the cover of “lost cats”.
Nobody is counting the number of cats lost in the UK annually. It will be in the many thousands possibly hundreds of thousands when you combine the numbers with stolen and killed cats. It is a silent, ongoing cat welfare issue of gargantuan proportions which is not being discussed enough or tackled with commitment.