Why do people steal cats?
It's worth remembering that it's not only dogs that are stolen. Cat theft has risen dramatically over the last five years, and it's estimated that around 360,000 cats go missing each year in the UK. But, of course, as cats are notoriously hard to keep tabs on, sometimes owners don't know whether their pet has been stolen or is just roaming until it's too late, which is why pet tracker GPS technology can be so helpful.
Why are cats stolen?
In recent years, the market for pedigree cats has grown exponentially, with prices of some breeds, such as the Bengal or the British Shorthair, reaching into the thousands of pounds for a kitten. As a result, cat theft is becoming more and more common.
Cats might be stolen and then sold on, or they may be kept in "kitten farms" for breeding purposes, which is why you should always use a reputable breeder when buying your kitten. Some thieves steal a pet, and then, when the distraught owners post a reward, they "find" the cat and pocket the reward. There are even cases of cats being held for ransom. Whatever the motive, cat theft is on the increase, and owners would be well advised to take precautions to prevent it.
Is stealing a cat illegal?
There are some common misconceptions around this based on the fact that. Although, in contrast, dog owners have a legal duty to keep their dog under control, the same duty doesn't apply to cat owners. However, they have a duty of reasonable care to prevent their cat from damaging either people or property. But, as far as theft is concerned, the law regards your cat as being your property, and stealing a cat is no different from stealing anything else that belongs to you. For the same reason, anyone who finds a lost cat should do their best to get it back to its owners.
How can you prevent your cat from being stolen?
First of all, you can make your home as secure as possible. Just a bell on the garden gate that alerts you if anyone comes in can be a deterrent to would-be thieves. If you can, make sure that your cat is home and safe at night. If you do have to leave your cat – if you're going away on holiday, for example, and you can't take your cat with you, make sure that your cat is left in good hands – either a trusted friend or neighbour or a reputable pet-sitter.
It makes sense, too, to have your cat neutered or spayed, as this has been shown to help stop cats from wandering. And a collar with your details (make sure it's a quick-release one to minimise the risk of injury) can make sure that your roaming cat gets home safely. Incidentally, it's not a bad idea to include the fact that your cat's been neutered along with the rest of your details. If thieves are targeting your cat for breeding purposes, this could well make them change their minds.
Finally, consider fitting your cat's collar with a tracking system, such as the Safer Pet GPS cat tracker, for ongoing peace of mind.
Safer Pet uses the latest GPS technology to ensure you know where your cat is at all times and means you can react instantly if your cat moves away from its usual territory.
What can you do if your cat is stolen?
If the worst happens and your cat does go missing, there are several things you can do. First of all, you'll need to scour the local area. A cat tracker app, like Safer Pet, can be beneficial because even if your cat no longer has its collar on, the app can show you where he was when the collar came off. In addition, the history function will show you where your cat usually goes, helping you narrow down your search.
Ensure that you have an up-to-date photo of your cat and a note of any distinguishing features that you can use to spread the word. Use posters, social media, and missing pet websites to get your message across to as many people as possible. If you have pet insurance, you may find that they'll give you financial help with this (and if your cat does have a tracker app, don't forget to ask, when taking out insurance, about any reduction in premium for this extra safety measure).
Finally, remember to involve the professionals to see if anyone has notified them to say they've found your cat, contact local vets and cat rehoming centres in case your cat has been taken there, and always report any suspected theft to the police. If cat theft is a trend in your area, the information you give them (especially if you can back it up with location data from a GPS tracker) may lead them to the thieves and help reunite not just you but other owners with their pets.