JustAnswer PixelPaws and Effect

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

My mom rescued me from a cage in a shelter last year, and now I’ve got a wonderful home with all the food, water and snuggling places I could possibly want. She’s even taught me how to sit, stay, come, follow and get things for her. She loves me and in her eyes there’s nothing I can do wrong … well, except for one thing. I have this habit of stealing hair bands and all kinds of other things, and I put them all in my water dish. Yes, all of them. Sometimes Mom comes in to find that I have plastic wrappings from food, or even ties that secure bread bags.

Mom keeps wondering why I steal, and she’s even told everyone I’m a cat burglar! Is this true? Is that why I was in that cage? I’m starting to wonder if I was born a thief and it makes me sad. Can you help me understand why I do this? My mom is wonderful and I don’t want to make her sad. Please help!

~ Toby

Toby the cat

This is Toby. Doesn't he look handsome?

Siouxsie: First of all, Toby, let me reassure you that you were not in that cage because you’re a bad cat! You found yourself there because you unfortunately fell in with some bad humans who didn’t realize how awesome you are.

Thomas: Fortunately, your new mom does know how awesome you are, and I’m sure she’s not angry with you for stealing things.

Dahlia: But she might be worried about you. You see, Toby, if you actually swallow one of those hair bands or twist ties, you could get very sick. You might even have to go to the vet and have an operation to get it out!

Siouxsie: We think it’s actually quite adorable to take things and put them in your dishes. In fact, I’ve even done that myself … back when I was a young and foolish kitten, that is.

Thomas: Yeah. Now Siouxsie only brings her toys and puts them in Mama’s chair. And on Mama’s bed. And on her lap …

Dahlia: Now, Thomas, you be nice. After all, you’re the one who’s always bumping Mama’s hand to try and get her to pet you while she’s trying to work.

Siouxsie: Yeah, ya big brown-nose!

Thomas: My nose isn’t brown, it’s brick red!

Dahlia: Anyway … back to the matter at hand. Toby, we don’t think it’s likely that your mom will be able to train you to stop stealing things, and that’s because in fact you’re the one training her and her daughter about the importance of putting things away when they’re finished with them!

Siouxsie: We had to train Mama the same way, but she’s much better now. The trouble is, now she’s too good at putting things away and we can’t find tasty morsels or people-food dishes to lick anymore.

Thomas: We hate to share the way Mama’s gotten us so stymied in our quest for forbidden goodies, but for the sake of keeping you safe from eating things you shouldn’t, we’re going to.

Dahlia: It’s really, really important that your people put things like hair bands, bread ties, bows and ribbons away so you can’t get to them. Little plastic storage containers work well — and since we don’t have opposable thumbs, if you close the containers correctly, we can’t open them.

Siouxsie: Plastic food bags should be put in drawers or boxes where they can’t be accessed.

Thomas: Mama calls this the Lead Them Not Into Temptation approach.

Dahlia: And trust us, we’d rather be led not into temptation than delivered from evil!

Siouxsie: Dahlia, you silly little thing! You know cats can’t be evil!

Dahlia: It was just a phrase. Sheesh!

Siouxsie: Toby, sometimes cats get into human things when they’re bored. Do your people play with you enough? You know how a good game of Chase the Mouse can just tucker you right out? Well, you should make sure your humans play with you every day using an interactive toy like Da Bird (our very super-favorite toy) or Neko Flies chaser toys (another favorite of ours).

Thomas: Check out this video of me — oh, and Siouxsie and Dahlia too —  playing with our bird toy. You’ll see how much awesome fun it is, and I promise you’ll want one of your own, too! (Please forgive Mama’s “Blair Witch ShakyCam”; she says it’s hard to hold a camera and play with kitties at the same time.)


(In a reader? Watch the video here.)

 Dahlia: A quick word of caution: These toys should be put away out of your reach when your people aren’t playing with you. Again, you wouldn’t want to eat the toy by mistake!

Siouxsie: So don’t feel bad, Toby; you’re just being a cat. It’s your people who are going to have to learn to accommodate you on this one.

If you like this post or you’ve learned something from us over the years, please nominate us for an About.Com Readers’ Choice Award for Best Website About Cats. Just click this link to go to the nomination page. (You’ll have to be logged in through Facebook or About.com in order to submit your nomination.)

Readers' Choice Awards logo

Share this post and make us purr!