65: The Kleptomaniac Kitty

65: The Kleptomaniac Kitty

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Cat

The Kleptomaniac Kitty

Fun fact: Cats are right-pawed or left-pawed just like people are right-handed or left-handed.

After responding to a Craigslist post, my mom and I made the half-hour drive to adopt three-month-old Suki and her sister Kimi. Their owner met me in the driveway holding Kimi, who was purring happily. Suki, I was informed, was in the process of “being found.” I was handed Kimi and instantly fell in love. It was a good thing the owner had her hands free, because at that moment a little black thing zoomed out of the open front door and headed straight for the street.

The owner, clearly well practiced in events like these, made one graceful dive, caught Suki by the tail, and lifted the protesting kitten into her arms. “I’ll just hold her until your mom finishes parking the car,” she assured me. “This one can be a bit squirmy.”

I loved Suki and her lively act of rebellion instantly, but I was fourteen and the decision to adopt the kittens ultimately lay with my mother. I begged the owner not to inform her of Suki’s latest escape attempt. Probably eager to be rid of the “liveliest” kitten in the litter, the owner agreed.

It didn’t take long for the whole family to realize what we’d gotten ourselves into, but by then it was too late; each of us had fallen in love with Suki. And as long as she would have us as her humans, we’d be honored to have her as our cat.

True to her free-spirit nature, Suki spent most of her time outdoors roaming the neighborhood. One day, I noticed she was playing with a gray stuffed elephant, and I asked my parents about it. No one in the house had given it to her so we wrote it off as one of the many things about Suki we’d never understand.

The very next day, there was a stuffed squirrel in her bed, the same size as the elephant. Now it was clear something fishy was going on. Either the manipulative feline had cajoled an innocent cat-lover into providing her with a second set of toys and other luxuries, or an unfortunate pet had fallen victim to our little kleptomaniac. Knowing Suki’s love of rebellion, we suspected the second.

Every day, Suki added a new stuffed animal to her collection, and she was accumulating quite a zoo. We were at a loss. How could we return them to their rightful owner when we had no idea where the toys were coming from? We weren’t even sure if they belonged to another pet. What if Suki was swiping them from a child?

The mystery continued for over a week, until we finally made a breakthrough in the case. While sitting at the kitchen table trying desperately to focus on anything but my geometry homework, the corner of my eye caught movement outside the kitchen window. It was Suki, slick as the day she’d escaped from her first home over a year ago, jumping over our back wall and into the neighbor’s yard.

With her love of adventure and her tendency to treat rules as merely suggestions, I didn’t think anything of it until she reappeared a few moments later with a stuffed turtle clamped firmly in her mouth.

A-ha! I’d caught her in the act. Now it was time to get to the bottom of this. Despite Suki’s protests, I retrieved the turtle and grabbed a ladder — my alternative to scaling the eight-foot wall my little kleptomaniac kitty had climbed with ease — and peeked into the unfamiliar yard.

Sure enough, a basket of stuffed animals belonging to some other pet sat at the doorway. We later returned the pilfered goods and learned that their rightful owner was a two-year-old Collie named Randy and his best friend, third-grader Noah. Apparently, Randy went with Noah’s mom to pick him up from school every afternoon, and recognizing this schedule, Suki took the time to swipe beloved toys from a dog more than four times her size!

The toys were returned to their rightful owner with no hard feelings and a few good laughs, and that night I had a talk with my furry thief. “Suki,” I told her as I scratched her favorite spot below her chin, “you’re not a bad kitty, but sometimes you make bad choices.” She kept purring as if she was exceptionally pleased with herself. Somehow, I don’t think the lesson sank in. We’re still vigilant — always on the lookout for Suki’s next “adventure.”

~Elizabeth Batman

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