A Pāpāmoa cat burglar has stolen an estimated 50 shoes - mostly left-footed - from his neighbourhood in just a few months.
Gemma Larsen said she adopted her black cat Neko - Japanese for "cat" - from a friend's litter five years ago.
"He's such a friendly cat. He loves being around people and always wants attention."
Neko brought home the odd mouse or bird but the first sign of his shoe obsession was when he nicked a neighbour's pair around Christmas 2017.
The shoes were returned and nothing happened for a year.
A few months ago, however, Neko started bringing home shoes. Lots of shoes.
"We had no idea what was going on," Larsen said.
"Suddenly there would be five shoes in the driveway from one night."
The kleptomaniac kitty prefers Jandals but his collection also includes some sneakers, a few socks, a couple of gardening gloves and a towel. Once, even, a knee-high boot.
"[From] Mostly the left foot, but then you'll wake up and there's a pair so he does like to go back for the other shoe."
She guessed he was bringing them as "gifts".
Larsen and her husband live near Topaz Dr and neighbours have collected a few stolen shoes but she is at a loss for how to return the rest.
"I have no idea where they are coming from, I have no idea how far he goes.
"I have no idea why he is bringing them. Is it like a gift? I have no idea but it's quite funny."
She has set up an Instagram page for Neko.
Already one person - who was sent a link to the page after posting on a community Facebook group about seeing a black cat take off with a school sandal - has been in touch.
Larsen said anyone in her area missing footwear could contact her through the Instagram page with a description.
Neko was not alone in his hobby. In 2013 an Arataki cat, Tabby, stole more than 50 shoes, while Canterbury cat Cooper is said to have made off with more than 100 in his time.
Dr Elsa Flint, an Auckland-based veterinarian and animal behaviour expert, said shoe theft was an example of an "aberrant predatory behaviour".
The cats were treating shoes like more traditional prey such as mice, birds or skinks.
"The cat will usually yowl and cry in the same way it would if it brought a mouse home."
She said the behaviour was "quite common" but shoes were an unusual target.
"It's usually stuffed toys or jerseys."
Cats often liked rubbing against shoes so there might be an attraction to the odour.
Asked why a cat might prefer the left shoe, she said: "I don't have any explanation for that."
Flint said the best way to stop the behaviour would be to keep the cat inside at dusk or early morning - around the times it would normally go out hunting - and keep the cat "engaged in play" during that time.
It was usually something owners could curb without expert help, and most of the time people found it amusing.
Occasionally, however, she had been called in when a cat was stealing things that could make them sick if ingested, such as socks, or "getting death threats from the neighbours".
Case of the Kiwi cat burglars
- Pavlov: Whangārei kitty that flogged a range of clothing and footwear items
- Mo: Mt Eden cat who made off with five box-loads of clothing, including underwear, over two years
- Brigit: Hamilton cat obsessed with men's underwear
- Bear: Mt Albert cat who nicked more than 15 socks
- Bo: Taupo cat stole small, plush toys