SHELBINA, Missouri — Standing in the shade of his command tent on the side of a rural highway, Buddy the Cat holds a pair of binoculars up to his face with both paws early Thursday morning, scanning for cat food.
“I don’t see a damn thing,” the silver tabby cat says, squinting.
A four-year-old striped ginger cat, an assistant, clears his throat. “You have to take off the lens caps, sir.”
Buddy turns, glares at his assistant, then makes a show of removing the lens caps as if that had been his idea all along.
“Aha!” he says triumphantly. “I see the cans!”
That was the scene at what the mercurial feline is calling Operation Yums HQ, less than a half mile from the site of an overturned tractor trailer on Missouri’s Highway 36. The truck, which had been headed east, drifted onto the right shoulder of the highway and tipped over into a ditch, spilling its glorious, delicious, must-be-acquired cargo onto the surrounding grass and concrete.
“Look at it,” Buddy said, surveying the scene as firefighters, police and paramedics saw to the driver, closed down one lane and directed traffic around the accident. “Soon, it will be all mine. Er, I mean ours. Muahaha!”
A Redditor says her beloved cat, Midnight, is missing after her girlfriend stole the innocent kitty and dropped her off on a random road on Friday as a revenge tactic for an argument the couple had the night before.
Midnight is still missing. Midnight’s owner, using a burner account called Throwaway29374639, updated concerned Redditors and said she was putting up flyers, setting up humane traps and looking in the area where her girlfriend claims she abandoned the cat as she was en route to work.
For her part, the Redditor says her girlfriend admitted what she did and “said she just had a moment of rage, but I just can’t even look at her right now. I kicked her out of my apartment and have been crying in my room for the last few hours. I feel so lost without my cat.”
In the thread, which attracted more than 1,400 comments and tens of thousands of views, many people advised her to report her (now presumably ex) girlfriend to the police, as well as to change the locks to her home and any passwords the two might have shared on various accounts.
We’ve talked before about the strange phenomenon of people who take their anger out on the pets of their partners or ex-partners. Studies have found that men are more likely to do so, and they’re much more likely to target cats than dogs because they see cats as an extension of femininity. In cases where domestic abuse is expanded to include a dog or a cat, the abusers view the pets as proxies for their victims.
Regardless, studies show that the pets of domestic abuse victims are likely to suffer at the hands of their owners’ abusers, and statistics show women who check into domestic violence shelters report their pets were also abused in the majority of cases. Some studies found more than 80 percent of pets who belong to domestic violence victims also become victims.
Women who worry about what will happen to their pets are less likely to leave their abusers and seek temporarily relief at shelters. As a result, some shelters also make arrangements for the pets of abuse victims, giving them safe shelter and taking another worry off the minds of their caretakers.
The saga of a “big cat” spotted on Long Island this week has come to an end with the animal’s capture.
Authorities believe the cat is a Eurasian Lynx and was a pet who escaped or was abandoned by his owner. The frightened feline was first spotted on Wednesday in Central Islip, Long Island, a suburb that stretches for 118 miles just south of New York City.
“Scared the daylights out of me,” Diane Huwer, a self-proclaimed cat lover who was the first to encounter the lynx, told the local ABC affiliate.
The area encompasses two counties and is one of the most densely populated places in the U.S. with more than 7.6 million people. It’s one of the worst places in the world for a wild cat to be abandoned, with heavy traffic, ubiquitous environmental noise and endless shopping plazas surrounded by labyrinthine residential neighborhoods.
It’s illegal to own wild animals in New York, and the cat’s “owner” likely would have kept it without a proper enclosure to avoid attention from authorities.
The lynx’s sightings made the headlines in the New York papers, as well as coverage by local TV news and online publications. It went viral on social media, with users trying to determine what kind of cat it was from the handful of blurry photos witnesses were able to snap. Some media coverage suggested it was a true big cat. (Here at PITB, we thought it was possibly a Savannah cat or an American lynx.)
Local authorities searched fruitlessly for three days and were about to give up early Saturday morning when someone spotted the wild cat in a residential neighborhood and called police.
The hungry feline was pawing through garbage cans next to a house in Central Islip. Authorities said the young lynx was friendly and socialized to humans.
“He was rubbing his face on the cage, looked like he was a friendly cat and from the tips we’ve gotten,” Frankie Floridia of Strong Island Animal Rescue said. “It seems these people have had him since he was a baby.”
Veterinarians have named the lynx Leonardo de Catbrio and said he’s about a year old. Despite his ordeal, the 40-pound cat was not malnourished or dehydrated, and the vets who gave him a check-up said he’s in good health. They’re waiting on lab results to confirm his species.
“Someone obviously had it as a pet,” the SPCA’s Roy Gross told Newsday. “These are wild animals, not the type of animals anyone should have. … They don’t belong in captivity this way.”
In the meantime, police, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the SPCA are looking for Leonardo’s “owner,” who faces misdemeanor charges and a fine of up to $1,000 if he or she is convicted. They’re sure to have questions about how the person acquired a wild cat, let alone a non-native species. It’s been illegal to “import” wild animals since the Wildlife Act of 1976, and the illegal wildlife market has been a scourge on law enforcement and conservationists alike.
Eleven is a silver tabby who’s been returned to the shelter twice by would-be adopters, and staff at the shelter are appealing to the public to find her a forever home with patient humans.
The four-year-old with bright green eyes has been with Battersea Cats and Dogs in south London since April. Her rescuers say she takes a while to adjust to new surroundings, and they believe that’s why Eleven was returned twice within days. If Eleven’s failed adopters had been more patient, shelter staff said, they would have discovered she’s a loving lap cat once trust is established.
They hope to place her in an “understanding home” with people who “will give her the time and space to settle in, as she would be a wonderful addition to a home.”
“Eleven needs her own space when she’s settling in, so she can hiss and swipe if pushed into interactions that she is not ready for,” a shelter spokesman told the Mirror. “She expects respect, but once given she will reward you with plenty of love. She is a super clever cat, who enjoys learning and she will sit on command for a treat of course.”
A week after a brazen thief stole a Portland family’s cat off their front porch, a pair of cat thieves were caught on security footage snatching a cat from a residential street in the UK.
The latter is not an isolated incident. A group of amateur sleuths, comprised of people whose cats were stolen and others concerned about the spate of thefts, found several of the missing cats listed for sale on a UK pet classifieds site, Pets4Homes.co.uk.
The latest cat-napping happened in East Birmingham, where home security cameras captured footage of a man and a woman creeping along a residential street shortly before 4 am, armed with cat treats, milk and a plastic bin and quietly searching for neighborhood felines.
East Birmingham’s Charlene Jones told the UK Sun that she was woken up by her dogs, who alerted her to intruders on her property.
“I didn’t notice anything until the dogs started barking, and I looked out the window and caught them in the act,” Jones said. “It all happened around 20 to four in the morning, at this point she was just putting the cat into the bin. I opened the window and the cat escaped.”
An angry Jones, whose own cat was stolen three weeks ago, confronted the thieves, who claimed they were working for a local animal welfare charity and were trapping strays.
“I went out and spoke to them and she started reeling off all these charity numbers and claiming she worked for them,” Jones said.
When Jones later reviewed the footage she recognized the cat, who belongs to a neighbor a few doors down the street.
“I feel angry,” Jones told the paper. “I have done my own research, she has been selling cats for eight months.”
Jodie Smith of Solihull, a town of about 123,000 about 18 miles from Birmingham, said her family’s cat, Arlo, was stolen in January. A friend later spotted Arlo on Pets4Homes, but the Smiths weren’t able to recover him.
“It’s awful, this is my daughter’s cat,” Smith said. “My daughter can’t go to bed with cuddles from her fur baby. She is absolutely gutted.”
Pet thefts on both sides of the Atlantic have been on the rise since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020. As entire countries went into lockdown, demand for companion animals skyrocketed, leaving many shelters bare and breeders sold out.
Criminals saw an opportunity and began stealing pets, mostly dogs at first, from yards, homes and kennels, prompting the owner of one lost pet site to dub 2020 “the worst year ever” for dog thefts, according to the BBC.
With exotic cat breeds commanding large amounts of money on the open market, from a few hundred dollars for breeds like Persians to $20,000 for Savannah cats, opportunistic thieves began targeting felines as well. “Moggies,” cats of indeterminate origin or no particular breed, aren’t exempt either. Some may be stolen because thieves mistake them for exotics, while other thieves apparently find it worth their time to snatch cats that can net them $100 or more on sites like Craigslist and Pets4Homes.
In the UK, cat thefts have increased threefold within the last five years, a trend accelerated by the pandemic and the resulting scarcity of cats, especially those with breed pedigree. Police rarely recover the stolen pets, and authorities say some people are targeted after sharing photos and video of their pets online.
Stealing cats is especially easy in the UK, where the majority of people allow their cats to roam free outdoors and the idea of keeping cats strictly indoors is seen as cruel or improper, even though felis catus are domesticated animals and don’t have a “natural habitat.”
In the Portland case, no one has come forward with any solid information in the theft of Kiki the cat despite two relatively clear shots of the suspect’s face and extended footage of her approaching and taking the cat from the Autar family’s front porch on Feb. 20. Like the UK catnappings, the Portland suspect seemed motivated by profit: The family said their cameras also caught the woman checking for open car doors, and the way she grabbed and held the cat — holding him at arm’s length, dangerously carrying him by the scruff of his neck — indicated she saw him as an object, not a living creature.
Karina Autar told PITB on March 1 that her family hasn’t given up hope.
“We are all just getting by, we are coping by putting in all our energy [into finding] him,” she said.
In the UK, Jones is not the only person to confront the cat thieves. Amy Buckley, 29, told The Sun that the woman seen in Jones’ footage also told her she was an employee of an animal welfare organization.
“She came to mine around January, claiming she worked for the PDSA and that they’d had a report about a large number of stray cats in the area,” Buckley told the paper.
She said she was immediately suspicious because PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) is a charity run by veterinarians that provides care, not TNR or general trapping services.
PDSA confirmed the woman does not work for the organization, while local police told the paper they had taken several reports from people whose cats had been stolen and were investigating the thefts. Meanwhile, an RSPCA spokesperson urged caretakers to have their cats microchipped.
In the meantime the victims are trying their best to locate their stolen furry family members, but they’re also angry at the pain the thieves have caused families and children.
“There are other families going through the same heartbreak,” Smith said. “For a lady to have some money in her pocket, she is destroying little children.”
We’re putting out a call to our readers and all cat lovers to help identify a woman who brazenly snatched a family’s cat off their front porch in Portland, Oregon, on Sunday.
The woman was wearing a pink jacket with a white scarf, black jogging pants, white sneakers and green socks.
Home security footage shows that at 7 a.m. on Feb. 20, the woman approached the Autar family’s home and tried to get their cat, KiKi, to approach her. KiKi wasn’t having it and turned toward the front door several times, refusing to approach the woman, but she slowly made her way onto the porch and snatched the well-loved kitty.
It’s clear from the way she holds KiKi that she’s not familiar with cats: Footage shows her holding him by the scruff of the neck, which is extremely painful for adult cats. Here’s a video of the entire sequence courtesy of Karina Autar:
And here’s a video from a second camera overlooking the driveway. The thief is clearly holding poor KiKi by the scruff with one hand as she briskly walks off:
The woman leaves in what looks like a black or dark blue Chevy suburban, quickly fleeing the neighborhood with the trunk still open. The SUV did not have a front license plate:
Earlier footage shows the same woman on a bicycle stopping in front of cars on the block and checking their doors. It appears she tossed the bike in the back of the SUV and drove off quickly, perhaps after someone spotted her.
Anyone who recognizes the woman or has information about the theft can call the Portland Police Department’s non-emergency number at 503-823-3333 or email Karina Autar directly.
The thief was caught snatching KiKi off his family’s front porch on Feb. 20.
The thief was caught snatching KiKi off his family’s front porch on Feb. 20.
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.