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Crazy lady keeps stealing friend's cat
July 18, 2009 5:51 PM   Subscribe

A friend of mine's indoor/outdoor cat, chipped and registered keeps getting stolen by some crazy girl. Seattle PD says they won't handle an indoor/outdoor cat case.

Things are at risk of "blowing up" between this girl and my friend (also female). Don't know what to do or what "authorites" to contact at this point. Any suggestions??
posted by crasspastor to Pets & Animals (49 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't know quite what to suggest, but some more details might be useful. How does your friend know this woman -- is she a neighbor, or former friend, or total stranger? Is she bringing the cat in to her place when it's outside, or is she breaking in to your friend's place to steal it? How many times has this happened? What specific reason did the police give for not handling it? (e.g., they don't believe on principle that outdoor cats can be "stolen"?)
posted by scody at 6:01 PM on July 18, 2009


Why doesn't she make the cat indoor only then? That way, if the other person gets the cat again, she'd have to break into your friend's place. As long as the cat is allowed out, what's to say that the cat isn't going on a visit to her.
posted by onhazier at 6:02 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Keep the cat indoors...problem solved. (indoor cats live longer anyway)

If the kitty is absolutely miserable not going out anymore then perhaps a harness and line so they can go out and lounge outside while the owner is present.

Crazy girl is bound to decide the same thing and if she does it first then short of a mission impossible style rescue this will not end happily for your friend and the furry companion.

I wish her luck, I'd hate to loose my kitties..
posted by Weaslegirl at 6:03 PM on July 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


I agree, the cat needs to stay inside. A loose animal can't be protected from this kind of thing.
posted by HuronBob at 6:17 PM on July 18, 2009


Seattle PD won't handle an indoor/outdoor cat case, but they sure as well handle a case where someone is in an altercation (verbally or otherwise) about a cat.

Have your friend avoid the latter. Keep the cat inside. The cat will go nuts.
posted by jerseygirl at 6:22 PM on July 18, 2009


Your friend may not have much success keeping the cat indoors. Dem kitties is quick! (sings Mrs. Lovett...)

nthing that we need more details.

And if your friend keeps the cat inside, even temporarily, she should get lots of climbing and scratching things to supplement outdoor play.

Ah, cats! Never a dull moment with them around;)
posted by jbenben at 6:27 PM on July 18, 2009


It's a stranger, as far as who this person is. A roommate of the person in question called us a couple weeks ago to let her know that a new girl had moved in with her and had a cat that she didn't call by the name on the tag. Didn't know any history etc. She became curious and called the number on the cat's tag. This is where it all began.

Well, nice roommate informer brought us the cat in a safe, public parking lot, without cat thief's knowledge and that very night, he went missing yet again.

Well, lo and behold we get a call today from from nice roommate that the cat is back. The girl came back and stole him again that very night. So it's been two weeks and no hide nor hair.

We went and got him, left her a note warning her of further action should this happen again. She has since "renamed" him as Monkey, complete with new tags with a helpful posting of her phone number. So, we'll see where this goes.
posted by crasspastor at 6:39 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


"keeps getting stolen" (?!?!?!?!!!)

This doesn't make any sense. How does she get the cat back to get it stolen again?
posted by Ookseer at 6:39 PM on July 18, 2009


I'm thinking this makes a great human interest story for your local paper....
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:47 PM on July 18, 2009


The cat comes when called and is very loyal, to answer the "how does it keep getting stolen" question. Very friendly cat, extremely friendly.

However, over these past few weeks he has apparently lost a lot of weight, his hair is falling out and he's sneezing. According to nice roommate, she rarely fed him.
posted by crasspastor at 6:52 PM on July 18, 2009


Friendly cat + insane neighbour = permanently missing cat. I'm very sorry, this is very inconvenient, but the solution to this is to keep the cat indoors. It's nice that the crazy person's roommate is helpful, and maybe the roommate will be willing to enact a no pets rule, but the only solution on your end is to keep the cat inside. (This is middling successful for most indoor-outdoor cats, but since crazy neighbour can keep the cat inside, your friend will also probably be successful.)
posted by jeather at 7:05 PM on July 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


Ack, seriously, keeping the cat inside sounds inconvenient but with the added detail that the crazy "rarely fed him" and that he's suffering some ill health effects, your friend must keep the cat inside. The next time, she could forget to give him water and keep him in her room or something and he could be worse than having his hair fall out within a couple of days. (And she should call the cops if she sees the crazy skulking around outside.)
posted by wuzandfuzz at 7:15 PM on July 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I agree that getting this in the paper may be the best way to get the police to take action. The cat is property and it is being stolen, sometimes it takes an extra push of publicity to make the police take action.
posted by IndigoSkye at 7:16 PM on July 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's possible to get a cat accustomed to walking on a leash, both when walked by a human and just left alone in a yard. If the cat's insistence upon going outside becomes a major problem, a harness and leash may help.
posted by Robson at 7:31 PM on July 18, 2009


According to nice roommate, she rarely fed him.

Your friend has two options if he/she has the cat's best interests in mind:

1. Keep the cat indoors.

2. Find a new owner for the cat.
posted by trunk muffins at 8:03 PM on July 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Your friend needs to talk to this person directly, with witnesses present, and needs to specifically mention the words "I talked with a lawyer and you are in serious trouble if this keeps up" and/or "I'm warning you directly, in front of witnesses, that I will prosecute you if you continue to steal my pet" in the presence of those witnesses.

Maybe that'll work, if you don't want to change the cat's enjoyment of the outdoors.
posted by mediareport at 8:20 PM on July 18, 2009


I'm trying to think of similar situations where your friend would have a claim, but I can't think of any. I mean, what if she left her property on the tree lawn- like a chair she likes to sit in to watch the traffic and people go by? If someone stole it, that would be her loss for allowing her chair to sit unattended on public property. I'm sure if this were the olden days and it was her horse who wandered onto her neighbor's lot, she'd have better luck with a legal case - but that's because we value utilitarian animals (like guide/therapeutic dogs) over common house pets with no "value."

I think your friend needs to keep the cat indoors for its own good. If she feels that this would make the cat unhappy, then she needs to put the cat's needs first and give it to someone who can make sure it's safe and nourished indoors and out. If she refuses to do that, then she should try a face-to-face, friendly talk with the "crazy lady." She calls her "crazy," but the lady may think your friend is the crazy one for repeatedly allowing her now undernourished cat to wander the streets!
posted by Piscean at 8:55 PM on July 18, 2009


Tell your friend she needs to make her indoor/outdoor cat indoor only. I don't see any other way around it since if you're right Seattle PD say the law does not recognize her property right over the cat if the roams.
posted by scunning at 8:55 PM on July 18, 2009


The catnapper USED to be a neighbor. She's since moved a ways away. That's what makes her even more "insane".
posted by crasspastor at 9:05 PM on July 18, 2009



To everyone who suggests keeping the cat indoors, sorry but once a kitten or cat experiences Outdoors, it will be forever curious. Rightly so.
Switching from In & Out to In Only is cruel imo.
posted by matholio at 9:12 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hmmmm. I hear what the "indoor people" are saying. I think keeping this cat indoors is next to impossible. I mean, I've told her repeatedly to just say goodbye to him -- in the sense was missing for so long. But she's had him since 2002, moved him up here from Boulder CO with her etc. But the way she loves her cats, lets them be very free, extremely loved, almost to an obsession, the nourishment issue is moot. This cat had a good coat of fur, before this all occurred.

But yeah, I wish she'd be more accepting of the reality of a roaming cat in the city. However, it is this girl who keeps getting in her car, driving over here and luring him back

Yes I've thought of the "wisdom of sampson already. ;)
posted by crasspastor at 9:18 PM on July 18, 2009


Err, sorry. Solomon, not Sampson
posted by crasspastor at 9:20 PM on July 18, 2009


I hate to give this answer, but "lawyer." You can't make really good plans without knowing the law on the subject, a letter from a lawyer threatening legal action may force crazygirl to stop kidding herself, and you may be able to get some kind of restraining order against crazygirl which the cops would take more seriously.
posted by tyllwin at 9:27 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Insane shouldn't be in quotation marks. If a random stranger is stealing your friend's cat, changing its tags and name, then yes, that is completely fucking insane. Keep it indoors. Seriously. And also maybe get a baseball bat for when this "insane" person comes into your house to get her Monkey.

HELLO?!!?
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 9:32 PM on July 18, 2009


To everyone who suggests keeping the cat indoors, sorry but once a kitten or cat experiences Outdoors, it will be forever curious. Rightly so.
Switching from In & Out to In Only is cruel imo.


From personal experience... no. Cats are adaptable (and infinitely variable). I've converted two known indoor-outdoor cats to indoor-only, and although I don't know what our current two's history is (the shelter didn't have much information), they've dealt just fine with being indoor-only since we've had them.

IMO, all you have to do is look at the stats on average lifespan for indoor-only cats (12 to 18 years) vs. indoor-outdoor cats (4 to 5 years), and the choice is clear. If you love your cats, keep them indoors.
posted by Lexica at 9:41 PM on July 18, 2009 [13 favorites]


Some indoor-outdoor cats are willing to become indoor only. It cannot hurt to try. (I have found that neutered male cats tend to be more willing to do this than neutered females.)

Your friend is in the right, but the point isn't her being right, it's that she wants to keep the cat, and to do that, she needs to keep crazy ex-neighbour from getting her hands on him. The good news is that if the woman has moved away, she will probably give up after a while -- it's easier for her to steal a nearby cat, or at least a cat who is always outdoors, than to drive around looking for a cat who isn't there.

Lawyer and all is also a good idea, but the easiest step is to try to keep the cat inside. Frankly, I find the combination of her loving her cat that much and being unwilling to keep him inside to save him from a crazy person who steals him and then doesn't feed him doesn't parse. Has she tried this? Perhaps people can give her advice on how to keep her cat happy indoors. If it doesn't work, that's another story, but you make it sound like she's just unwilling to do it.
posted by jeather at 9:47 PM on July 18, 2009


Switching from In & Out to In Only is cruel imo.

Crueler than letting the cat be repeatedly abducted by a psycho who doesn't feed him? Please.

I don't even see how there's a question here. Letting the cat out=crazy lady taking the cat. Keeping the cat in=not.

Sure, call a lawyer, put it in the paper, whatever, but this woman is clearly on a mission and will not stop no matter what the threat. If your friend loves the cat, there is one and only one response to the situation. Anything else is putting the cat in mortal jeopardy.
posted by tzikeh at 10:13 PM on July 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


It is nowhere near impossible to switch even a mostly-outdoors cat to indoors-only. After our cat (who NEVER went out in the street) got hit by a car and was injured within an inch of his life and needed a costly surgery, there was quite enough reason to keep him inside, so he's an indoor cat now and he's completely fine (and even, dare I say, very happy and healthy). It strikes me as, well, foolish to keep letting the cat outside when something bad continually happens to it--does your friend want to keep her cat, or not?
posted by so_gracefully at 10:19 PM on July 18, 2009


I adopted my cat at about 5 years old from the ASPCA and she was definitely an outdoor cat before I got her. But I lived on the 2nd floor of a house with a rickety deck so it was definitely Inside Only for her. She quickly got used to it, to the point where when we moved to a new place with a nice fenced-in yard with a lawn and all, she didn't even WANT to go outside despite repeated offerings.

In short, it's totally possible to switch an older, established cat from outdoor to indoor with a little patience and a whole lot of clean litter.

Were I and my cat in this situation, I would be employing the services of a lawyer and intimidatingly large friends, but your friend isn't me and I don't know all the details. But for goodness' sake, if there was an electric fence outside, would you let your cat out unsupervised? Keep the cat inside, put up with some yowling, and maybe change the locks on the doors.
posted by Mizu at 10:43 PM on July 18, 2009


1. Stop letting the cat outside. Period. Don't make excuses for why you just can't. Continuing to let the cat out is continuing to accept the THEFT of your CAT!!

2. Get the cat microchipped. This is unalterable and will permanently tie the cat to you and no one else.

3. Get the cat licensed. With the cat licensed in your name, the police are more likely to treat this as an issue of property theft and take it more seriously.

Note: I know this is your friend's cat and not yours, but I used the second person for ease of writing. Read it out loud to your friend if you must. Over and over, until she does these things.. for the good of her cat!
posted by srrh at 10:48 PM on July 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


But the way she loves her cats, lets them be very free, extremely loved, almost to an obsession . . .
So, your friend has other cats, also presumably let outdoors, but the "crazy lady" is only stealing the one cat? If your friend kept this one cat inside, would the "crazy lady" pick up one of her other cats? And it's odd that the police won't get involved. Maybe your friend could try again and get a more sympathetic police person. If, for example, she let her child out to play in the yard and someone drove over and took her child, for sure the police would get involved.
posted by Joleta at 10:49 PM on July 18, 2009


To everyone who suggests keeping the cat indoors, sorry but once a kitten or cat experiences Outdoors, it will be forever curious. Rightly so.

That simply is untrue. I live in a house with six cats and three of them were found as outdoor kittens or grown cats. They have lived happily indoors for years now.


the nourishment issue is moot. This cat had a good coat of fur, before this all occurred.


But it is not healthy now, so what aspect of the nourishment issue is moot? I'm sorry, but I just don't see any logic in your friend's desires based on her behavior. It's almost as if she'd rather be right than keep the cat nourished.

Is there some reason why your friend can't make a police complaint against the woman for, say, harassment? Perhaps making a case for the woman targeting her by taking the cat? I still think the fact that she lets the cat roam the neighborhood won't get her much sympathy, but perhaps if there is nor ordinance against that, a harassment complaint could go somewhere.
posted by Piscean at 11:53 PM on July 18, 2009


IMO, all you have to do is look at the stats on average lifespan for indoor-only cats (12 to 18 years) vs. indoor-outdoor cats (4 to 5 years), and the choice is clear. If you love your cats, keep them indoors

Oh, please. It's entirely context-dependent, and dramatic generalisations like "if you love your cats, keep them indoors" are ridiculous.

In this case, however, keeping the cat indoors seems to be the obvious solution. I would also look into making a complaint for harassment if the crazy girl continues to come around.
posted by goo at 4:15 AM on July 19, 2009


Just to add one more voice to the chorus....if your friend wants to keep this wonderful cat, she needs to keep him indoors. Who knows what this crazy woman will do if she feels like her ability to keep the cat is being hampered by a roommate. She might try and hide the cat in places, or even kill the poor thing (if she can't keep it herself!).

I love cats. One of my dearest pets in the world was a cat. There is no call of the wild for domesticated cats. All you achieve by letting a cat outdoor is reducing the songbird population, it's life, and apparently allowing crazy women to steal it.
posted by Atreides at 7:43 AM on July 19, 2009


This women who steals that cat does sound mentally disturbed. Is it possible to reach out to her family? The roomate may be able to contact a family member who could know how to handle the situation. She could have a history of mental illness and may be off medication or something.
posted by Gor-ella at 8:21 AM on July 19, 2009


Cats are not adaptable - but they manage. My cat, who I got from the woman who had the kittens, had never been outside except for on a leash until she was close to a year old.
She has always wanted to go outside, she always wants to go outside, and she is a cunning escape artist who usually gets out if I don't put her in a dog crate when there are people at my house.

Fortunately, she's clicker trained, and she will come in to my line of vision, and make me follow her around for an hour or two (I am also trained.) until she's ready to be caught.

She's also, despite having not training from her mom and not being outside until she was grown, a successful predator.

I get the part about cats who want to be outside.

If someone took my cat, who has tags, and I found out about from the insane person's roommate... well, I hope I never have to see that side of myself.

One thing I would do, out of sheer darn meanness even though it would make me look like the crazy cat lady on the Simpsons, is have the cat micorchipped and then send a fax to the local vets saying this person, giving the full name and address, keeps taking my cat who has tags and a chip and if it comes in could you call me. Same thing for the local shelters. Okay, I probably wouldn't do all that because it's basically harassing the vets and shelter workers, but I would chip the cat and keep it indoors.

If the hair is not coming back, a vet check might be in order. Maybe crazy lady is feeding the cat some insane herbal diet that is bad for kitty's delicate liver.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:17 AM on July 19, 2009


Nthing the switch to indoors. My cats were indoor/outdoor for years, but I moved from a fairly cat-safe neighborhood to one with roaming ferals & crazy drivers & they are definitely all indoor-only now. They are obnoxious & try to escape, but there is no universe in which letting them outside is an acceptable option right now. For the record, the one that is the most persistent & annoying about trying to get out is the one who's always been indoor-only.
posted by oh really at 9:52 AM on July 19, 2009


I know that you've said that "keeping the cat indoors" isn't possible. But, it doesn't seem that there is another 100%-prevent-theft scenario. For such a beloved animal, the best advice seemst to be:

[nthing] "Keep the cat indoors...problem solved." [/nthing]
posted by richardhay at 10:18 AM on July 19, 2009


Would your friend be willing to compromise her strong feelings about letting the cat roam if it were for limited, fixed period of time? Perhaps if she keeps the cat indoors for a few months, crazy catnapper will give up. As it stands, it sounds like either your friend keeps the cat indoors, or crazy catnapper will keep her indoors.

Nthing getting the cat checked at the vet to make sure crazy catnapper isn't feeding the cat something harmful.

We went and got him, left her a note warning her of further action should this happen again. She has since "renamed" him as Monkey, complete with new tags with a helpful posting of her phone number. So, we'll see where this goes.

She appears to be escalating her claim to ownership in response to your warning. She's willing to drive across town to pick up the cat -- don't you think she's probably already got a story prepared about how you gave her the cat when you were neighbors? Does she know that the cat is chipped? Do you trust her to not try to disable the chip somehow?
posted by desuetude at 11:22 AM on July 19, 2009


Your friends options are very limited at this point. Either keep the cat indoors or the cat will be taken again. I hope she microchips the cat before the crazy lady does.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:45 PM on July 19, 2009


Cats are not adaptable - but they manage.

*head asplode*
posted by furtive at 1:24 PM on July 19, 2009


Am I wrong to suggest that cat thief is also pretty much stalking your friend? You should really look into your local stalking laws, because it is legally unacceptable to repeatedly harass someone outside of their home--cat issue or no.

However I think the suggestion to keep the cat inside should be looked into first.
posted by shownomercy at 4:12 PM on July 19, 2009


IMO, all you have to do is look at the stats on average lifespan for indoor-only cats (12 to 18 years) vs. indoor-outdoor cats (4 to 5 years), and the choice is clear. If you love your cats, keep them indoors.

Not to mention the havoc they wreak on the local songbird/small fuzzy animal population. Cats do just fine indoors. They may get fat and lazy, but they do just fine.
posted by electroboy at 6:44 PM on July 19, 2009


A friend of mine's indoor/outdoor cat, chipped and registered keeps getting stolen by some crazy girl.

Ahem. It appears cat is chipped and registered already.</small.
posted by desuetude at 7:58 PM on July 19, 2009


Desuetude.. good call, I don't know how I missed that. In that case, I have a seriously hard time believing the police are not willing to get involved, but if they are not, then -- jeez louise! -- keep the cat inside!

I came back to revisit this question because it is just so absurd. I cannot imagine letting a cat outside, and thinking everytime, "Well, I hope he doesn't get kidnapped this time." This is just madness... Deal with a whining cat and stop letting the cat out. Come on now...
posted by srrh at 11:57 PM on July 19, 2009


Lawyer, maybe even contact an animal welfare group. What this woman is doing is hella fucked up and needs to stop. Even if you doom the cat to being inside the crazy lady might just go and steal someone else's cat later. I know how hard it can be to keep a cat inside. My housemate's cat lost an eye to the great outdoors a couple years ago, and as soon as he was healthy enough he would bolt out the door. We tried really hard to keep him in but cats can be sneaky assholes.
posted by Betty_effn_White at 3:53 AM on July 20, 2009


If the cat is microchipped, that's a pretty clear indication of your ownership. I don't understand how the city/police/etc. can ignore that.

Personally, I'd have a hard time letting my cats out if I knew this was the risk. OTOH, a lot of indoor cats can be overweight and depressed, so I understand the desire to allow cat his/her freedom.

I'd talk to an animal welfare group, especially if crazy lady is not feeding the cat. Chances are, this woman has owned animals in the past and is now not allowed to adopt because of previous issues of neglect. As well, stealing/harming animals is long associated with stalking and I don't think it would be unreasonable to investigate if it's possible to get a restraining order against this woman.
posted by Kurichina at 8:50 AM on July 20, 2009


Chances are, this woman has owned animals in the past and is now not allowed to adopt because of previous issues of neglect.

Yep, this was my thought too. I bet when you contact animal welfare groups, they will know exactly who you're talking about.
posted by desuetude at 10:13 AM on July 20, 2009


Give the helpful flatmate some kind of reward or thank-you gift. He's been your greatest asset so far, and if he's getting flak from the crazy women each time he sticks his nose into your business, he may just butt out.

And tell the owner to stop trying to fool herself, exaggerating reasons why she can't do what's necessary for her cat. If she doesn't care enough about the cat to see to its welfare over a matter like this, then she has to be upfront and admit this to herself or else she's as self-deluded as the cat-napper (who I guarantee will also claim to love the cat and want what is best for it). That you love an animal doesn't make you a good person, or a sane person. It's your actions that matter. Step up to the plate.
posted by -harlequin- at 9:50 PM on July 21, 2009


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