Louie, Louie - you gotta stop stealing our stuff

By Cherie Taylor, cherie.taylor@dailypost.co.nz

A cat burglar is roaming Rotorua's Moncur Drive and stealing from residents.

Louie, a 1-year-old black cat who has been taking belongings from the neighbourhood and dumping them outside his owner's bedroom, has been caught red-handed.

Louie's owner, Claire Schnell, found her pet with loot in his paw to prove his guilt.

Mrs Schnell said a few months ago she and husband Jeff started waking to find small items such as flannels, tea towels, socks and soap scrunchies on the floor outside their bedroom every morning.

They have only had the cat since they adopted him from the SPCA last Easter while he was healing from a broken tail and cat flu.

She never dreamed the feline was a thief.

"It was really quite funny. He just kept bringing stuff home ... typically, he'd steal things at night and drag them through the cat door and deposit them outside our bedroom door ...

he just can't resist," she said.

They were puzzled over who they belonged to until Mrs Schnell put notes in neighbours' letterboxes asking if people were missing these items.

"I got a phone from the neighbour behind us who said 'that's my stuff'.

"She had just got a new kitten and thought it was hiding things."

Louie isn't your typical cat, though - Mrs Schnell said he would fetch things for you.

"I think he thinks he is a dog."

Criminal or not, she does love him, though.

"He's such a really loving cat."

Mrs Schnell didn't know know how to stop Louie's thieving ways. So when told by The Daily Post that a cat behaviourist recommended putting his food into a dispensing toy to keep him occupied, she thought it was a great idea.

Natural Animal Solutions animal behaviourist Lynne O'Malleysaid cats who stole things were often intelligent but probably bored.

"Normally, pedigree cats do strange things like that. Basically, they are highly intelligent and need more stimulation," she said.

"They tend to be more intelligent and are often more neurotic and lack environmental stimulation."

Louie's owners would have difficulty stopping the behaviour, Mrs O'Malley said.

"It will be impossible to stop unless you provide them with another outlet. Maybe the cat could be stimulated by putting his food in those dispensing toys so it's kept busy and has to work to get the food," she said.

The Purina One website states if you give the cat attention for its behaviour it will continue stealing things - even if it's negative attention.

It also suggests toys to play with or establishing a playtime routine.

Mrs Schnell said Louie loved play time so she wasn't so sure he was bored.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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