Two kleptomaniac cats who have been operating as petty thieves in Tauranga are so similar in their misdemeanours that the owners think they may be accomplished working together in a “cat gang”.
Candice Purcell’s cat Snow has been stealing for seven years, whereas Marcia Martin’s cat Gary has been a recidivist thief for most of his 14 years.
The two cats lived near each other in Bureta for years, although Gary recently moved to a neighboring suburb with his family.
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Purcell thinks Snow and Gary may have been prowling the area together at night as a gang, because they target the same goods.
“Snow used to steal from the neighbours, breaking in through the top floor windows.” she said. “Now she goes further afield. I think she used to head down to the road where Gary lived too.”
The two cats mainly target clothes, particularly socks and underwear. Over the years, Snow has stolen hundreds of socks.
“Once she stole 30 pairs of socks in one week,” said Purcell. “She really likes to pair them up. Sometimes she will come in with one sock and then later there is a pair. She also takes lacy underwear and men’s boxers.”
Snow’s most recent haul included a kitchen mop, which Purcell says was quite heavy.
One morning Purcell and her son woke up to the stench of body odor after Snow brought in a man’s work shirt.
“Most of the stuff she steals is clean,” she said, “but sometimes she brings back unwashed stuff and that’s not very pleasant – particularly if it’s underwear.”
One clean shirt featured a KFC logo which has so far gone unclaimed, despite Purcell reaching out to the fast food outlet.
“She also steals lots of children’s clothes and has a thing for hats. We’ve had lots of baseball caps. I always worry about people missing their clothes.”
Gary’s owner, Marcia Martin, has set up a Facebook page called Gary’s Antics, where she posts photos of everything he brings home in the hope that the owners might come forward to claim their things back.
Like Snow, Gary’s favorite booty is footwear – mostly socks and shoes.
“Locals have started putting their shoes inside their house because if they leave them outside the door, Gary takes them,” says Martin.
He also has a penchant for gardening gloves and has collected more than ten pairs. Over the years, Martin has accumulated “bags and bags” of clothes that Gary has pilfered, and if no one claims them she eventually takes them to an op shop.
Martin says fortunately, crime doesn’t run in Gary’s family as her other cats – Gary’s brothers – have never stolen a thing.
Purcell has even consulted a vet about Snow’s stealing.
“Snow is half Burmese, so they can be quite intelligent and even crafty,” she said. “The vet just laughed, saying he had not heard of it happening, but that it could be similar to cats bringing in birds that they have killed. In Snow’s case it is not a dead bird but an old sock.”
The cat gang might even be prospecting for new young members.
”I heard there’s a little kitten in Matua who has just started stealing too,” said Purcell.