Stolen Christmas decorations in England traced to cat-burgling cats

Dec. 27, 2013 at 3:35 PM
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IPSWICH, England, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Two house cats in east England celebrate Christmas with crime sprees, bringing home holiday items pilfered from neighbors, their owners say.

Theo, a 3-year-old Siamese cat owned by Rachael Drouet and Paul Edwards of Ipswich, has given up stealing clothing, phone chargers and cat toys, his usual loot, in favor of Christmas tree decorations.

In Luton, sixty-five miles away, Denis, a 3-year-old mixed-breed cat, typically brings home gift wrapping after the Christmas holiday instead of underwear, his usual preference, owner Lesly Newman said.

"The first thing to say about cat-burgling cats, ones that take home assorted, unusual, non-prey items on a regular basis, is that it is a rare activity," said cat biologist and behaviorist Roger Tabor, who has studied Denis.

Tabor theorized the two cats, both orphaned as kittens, were not taught by their mothers to catch prey, adding, "Without the normal learning interactions of a mother or other kittens, they have become particularly fixated on toys and continue to hunt them."

The owners of both cats attempt to return the stolen items, the British Broadcasting Corp. noted.

"It's a bit embarrassing to have to knock on neighbors' doors, especially the ones I don't know so well, and ask them if this chewed-up thing covered in saliva and cat hair was once hanging on their Christmas tree," Drouet said.

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