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Cat Thief

Page Eight

Holly's A Puss In Boots!

May 2003

HollyPictured right cat burglar Holly the cat sits in the shadow of some of the boots, shoes, slippers and trainers she has collected from her New Zealand Manurewa neighbourhood.

When night falls in Manurewa Holly starts on her quest, prowling through suburban streets to prey on trusting residents.

Holly stockpiles her loot at the back door of her home in The Gardens. But if she's disturbed on her journey, she simply drops her goods in the street.

This petite and friendly female doesn't look like the stealing type. But this feline tabby has a shoe fetish rivalled by few others.

This cool cat even goes the extra mile to ensure she gets matching pairs. She will determinedly retrace her steps to pick up the second shoe.

Kay McKillion thought she was targeted by thieves when the seventh pair of shoes disappeared from her Norman Close doorstep. Mrs McKillion called the police to complain.

"Every time someone walked past my house I would go out and see if they were wearing my shoes," she says.

The mystery was solved when a neighbour told her about Holly and Mrs McKillion was directed to the house in Charles Prevost Drive, where boxes of shoes lie waiting to be claimed.

Holly's owner, James, doesn't know what to do with his cat burglar, who collects three pairs of shoes in an average night's work.

"She's not dangerous, she's not wild, she doesn't scratch. This is all she does."

But James believes Holly knows she's up to no good, because she only steals when no one's looking.

She has been caught with stolen goods in her mouth only twice by her owner, once when walking the streets and a second time while attempting to jump a two metre fence.

"We try and keep her inside at night, but she's quite clever."

James and his family moved from Weymouth last year, where Holly's habit was even worse.

"After six months we'd be putting out bags of shoes. A lot of people in Weymouth would have lost a lot of shoes and then it would have suddenly stopped when we moved!"

He says some shoes are able to be returned to their rightful owners as Holly's antics became known around her neighbourhood.

One neighbour clocked the cat stockpiling shoes by a tall fence at the end of his garden and circulated a flyer informing shoeless neighbours.

The seven-year-old cat started collecting shoes after she was spayed three years ago and James wonders if there's some connection.

Steve Merchant, of the Manukau Veterinary Group, says cats have a nesting instinct which often drives them to steal and take their goods to bed with them.

"I don't think cats know they are doing it, it's probably a subconscious urge," Mr Merchant says.

In his experience, cat burglars are females who usually hoard soft items like gloves, jerseys and slippers not shoes.

Mr Merchant says Holly could be collecting shoes to replace kittens, but says people often mistakenly blame changes in their cats on spaying.

"A lot of older unspayed cats are quite stressed and getting them de-sexed releases them from all that, so they can just enjoy life and do things they wouldn't normally have time for, like playing and stealing."

Holly's owners would like to return the stolen shoes to their owners, so if you live in The Gardens and have lost some shoes, take a stroll to Norman Close, you will probably find your shoes there!

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