A cat named Katobi was reported stolen in Stanton, NE in May of 2022. The local sheriff’s office managed to identify a suspect – a college student who had been staying in the area but had already returned to their home in the state of Colorado. Initially, said individual denied that they had stolen the cat when contacted by the authorities. However, the police as well as Humane Society officials were able to locate Katobi via a microchip scan. As a result, the college student confessed that they had indeed stolen the cat when contacted by the authorities a second time. Said individual agreed to return the cat. Furthermore, they agreed to cover the costs of locating the cat. In exchange, Katobi’s family agreed not to charge the college student.
Why Do People Steal Cats?
Unfortunately, cat thieves are a very real issue for cat owners. Generally speaking, people steal cats because they want to make money. Most of the time, this happens through a small number of ways. One, it is very common for cat thieves to steal cats for the purpose of resale. Often-times, they will steal a cat, move the cat out of the area, and then sell the cat to someone who either doesn’t care about the cat’s background or is too worked-up to ask a lot of questions about the cat’s background. Two, it is very common for cat thieves to steal cats for the purpose of breeding. This is the source for a lot of the cats used in kitten mills. That means that those cats tend to be treated very poorly. Once they have reached the limits of their usefulness in this regard, they will be sold for the purpose of squeezing every single bit of value out of them. Failing that, the people who run kitten mills tend to toss out these cats to fend for themselves. Something that tends to mean even more suffering out on the streets. Three, cat thieves might seek money in exchange for returning the stolen cat. Sometimes, they do so by pretending to have found the cat. Other times, they will just straight-up try to ransom the cat. Besides these, it is also possible for cat thieves to steal cats for other reasons, though that makes up a minority of cases.
In any case, the profit motive means that cat thieves tend to target the most valuable cat breeds. One example would be the Bengal, which can be recognized in an instant by the tiger-like coat that was created through crossbreeding with Asian leopard cats. Another example would be the Sphynx, which can also be recognized in an instant by its lack of a coat though not its lack of hair. Other cat breeds that get targeted a lot include but are not limited to the Ragdoll, the Siamese, and the Maine Coon. Apparently, the Domestic Shorthair gets targeted a lot as well, which is strange because Domestic Shorthairs aren’t what anyone would consider to be rare cats. In their case, it might be because they make up such a huge percentage of the pet cat population rather than because of their particular popularity with cat thieves. It is worth mentioning that one of the reasons that cat thieves steal cats is the not particularly high risk of them doing so. While a lot of cat owners see their cats as members of their family, cats don’t enjoy the same kind of status from the perspective of the law. As a result, the punishments for cat thieves are relatively light. On top of that, the police may or may not have the resources needed to look into everything. When that happens, stolen cats tend to be lower on their list of priorities. Combined, this means that a lot of cat thieves operate as such because they believe that they will come out ahead by doing so.
What Can Cat Owners Do About This Issue?
There is a lot that cat owners can do if they are concerned about their cats being stolen:
Spay or Neuter the Cat
For starters, this is one more reason to either spay or neuter the cat. Simply put, that makes the cat less attractive as a target for cat thieves because the cat can’t be used for kitten mills. Furthermore, that makes the cat less interested in wandering outside, which makes them very vulnerable.
Keep the Cat Indoors
Speaking of which, cat owners should do their best to keep their cats indoors. After all, stealing a cat wandering outdoors during the nighttime is easier than stealing a cat wandering outdoors during the daytime, both of which are easier than stealing a cat that is staying indoors. This is particularly true because cat thieves might not even become aware of the existence of cats staying indoors. If cat owners are concerned about their cats getting some outdoor time, they should consider getting a cat patio as a compromise.
Collars and Microchips
Both collars and microchips are very useful for protecting cats. Interested individuals should make sure to put an up-to-date ID tag on the collar. Furthermore, they should get one that is reflective as well as equipped with a quick-release feature for safety purposes. Meanwhile, microchips are great because they make it much more difficult for cat thieves to resell a cat. Moreover, if a cat gets lost, the microchip can enable the people who find the cat to send them back to the cat owner. This is critical because such cats might otherwise never make their way back.
Conduct a Local Search
If a cat is missing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it has been stolen. Instead, it can be a missing for a wide range of other reasons, many of which mean that chances are good that the cat is still in the local area. As a result, a local search is a good way to start looking for a missing cat, particularly since most missing cats are apparently found within 500 meters of their home. Besides this, cat owners might also want to inform local individuals and organizations so that they know to keep an eye out for the cat as well.
Contact the Police
The police won’t always have the resources needed to help out much. However, they can definitely help out, as shown by the case of Katobi. Due to this, interested individuals should make a report if they believe that their cat has been stolen.
Register the Missing Cat
There are a lot of websites and other places where cat owners can register their missing cats. That can be very useful for getting sightings as well as other kinds of information, thus increasing the chances of them being reunited with their feline companions.