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Is your Cat a Secret Hoarder

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klepto cat caught in the act

klepto cat caught in the act

An unusual hoarder

There's a new type of hoarder I want to discuss. Have you ever lost something in your home or found something in the yard and didn't know how it appeared.

Cats can collect objects just like people do. They can suffer the same emotional problems. We've all seen and read about people who have collected vast amounts of items in their homes.

They are often referred to as hoarders. Some people are hoarding animals but there isn't much information about animals that hoard.

Well, there may be a member of your family that doesn't know they've got a problem. Your beloved pet may be stealing from the neighbors to feed their secret obsession. Imagine tripping over large piles of odd clothing pieces, stuffed toys, or shoes in the laundry room. It's not that noticeable until one day you fall over a large sneaker and don't know who owns it. Go out to the family doghouse and you may find it's full of doggie toys or socks. Where did they come from?

“Is my puppy finding this stuff in the trash or is he looting the neighborhood?” Soon you'll find yourself avoiding eye contact whenever a neighbor waves. Oh, the shame of it.

Feeding the Hoarding Addiction

The family pet can land an owner in hot water with its barking, digging, fighting, or doing its business on the neighbor's lawn. But did you know that cute little puppy or cat would turn out to be a sneaky nighttime thief? Yes, your precious kitty could be the neighborhood “cat-burglar!”

While your dog may steal laundry off the clothesline in the daylight hours, your cat wanders the night, sneaking into people's homes through the pet entrance.

If you are shocked and embarrassed, it's alright. This is normal behavior for some animals.

Animals have issues also and just like humans, they may have a hidden hoarding problem.

There have been some “klepto” cats in the news of late. The sticky fingers or paws were caught in the act on a surveillance camera. There was the culprit leaving a house through the pet door, with someone's “undies” in their mouth. The cat's owners didn't know this was happening because the ill-gotten goods were hidden in a secret location. The stash was growing so large that it was not so well hidden any longer.

Jack the stealing cat

Animals have some of the same bad habits and obsessions as many humans do. The humans that hoard, are said to have are emotionally and or mentally ill, and needed to feel safe with all these things surrounding them.

Pets may feel deprived of social contact, or were abused and abandoned as babies could very well develop these hoarding tendencies.

Perhaps surrounding themselves with objects such as soft stuffed animals and clothing reminded them of their siblings.

I'm taking an educated guess but it sounds plausible.

How to break the Addiction of Hoarding

Humans have a difficult time recognizing a hoarding problem so imagine trying to get the dog or cat to see that. Should we laugh it off? If you have understanding neighbors, then maybe.

The cat, dog, ferret, or pot bellied pig that steals is trying to tell you something. Do you spend enough time with them? Do you know their earliest history? Were they abused and abandoned?

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Some pets found at shelters had horrible beginnings and no one knows for sure what they went through before you adopted them. Understanding and patience is the key to helping them break this addiction or obsession. Adopting an animal is a lot like adopting a child. You may never know what they endured before you found them.

Ferrets doing what they do best

Helping your pet with stealing issues

See if these suggestions help:

  • spend more time and pay more attention to them.
  • don't leave the dog in an outside kennel or crate at night. It fosters their feeling of abandonment and hostility.
  • reassure the pet as much as possible
  • Have someone such as a friend ,relative or pet sitter come to visit if you are away
  • Leave your pets favorite treats
  • leave some article of clothing with your scent on it with them
  • call home and leave a voice message so they know hear you (some pets will become more agitated by this)
  • bring them a toy each week for good behavior

Final Thoughts on the Klepto Kitty and others

Not all pets are ideal for your situation. Matching a pet to the owner's personality, lifestyle, and schedules are important. It's also wise that a human hoarder does not get a pet. That's the start of something much worse.

If you don't want an animal in the house or to touch you, don't keep them. If you want them to feel wanted, pay more attention and walk the dog on a regular basis and play with the cat. Dogs are very social creatures and need social and physical contact.

Make or buy a cat house or obstacle course. They love to figure things out and find new places to explore. That may be one reason why a wandering cat searches the neighbor's house and yard at night.

Ferrets also love to explore and dig. They collect many objects and stash them in every nook and cranny of the house. make sure you understand each animal's traits before getting one.

© 2011 Stacie L


Stacie L (author) on April 30, 2016:

I thought dogs and wild animals stole things that so this that's why this story intrigued me. Thanks for reading and leaving your comments.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on April 27, 2016:

it is amazing that cats do steal things too

peachy from Home Sweet Home on August 12, 2015:

my cat doesn't steal anything yet. She prefers to chase other cats and sleep on our sandals.

Stacie L (author) on February 27, 2012:

@Eiddwin: thanks for reading my hoarding cat hub! have a great day!

Eiddwen from Wales on February 27, 2012:

A true gem and I loved it;

Takecare and enjoy your day.


Stacie L (author) on January 06, 2012:

princesswithapen: thank you for reading...yes he is uber cute..cats can get away with a lot..and klepto cats! LOL

princesswithapen on January 05, 2012:

Haha! Loved the hub and especially the video on klepto aka dusty the stealing cat. Only cats can make stealing look cute, don't you think?

Thanks for sharing this uber cute and awesome hub.


Stacie L (author) on October 06, 2011:

@Lela Bryan: thank you for reading my hub about cats that horde. Jack is a unique character.

Lela Bryan from Alameda, CA on October 06, 2011:

This is so funny. I love Jack and his owner

Stacie L (author) on September 21, 2011:

Lucky cats: thank you so much for your comments. I think animals are closer to us humans than people give them credit!...even our problems.LOL

Kathy from Independence, Kansas on September 21, 2011:

Stacie L...this is hilarious..funny beyond funny! Thank you for sharing this great hub and the suggestions about hoarding anials and other things they might do when we aren't fun read!! UP Awesome Useful Interesting

Stacie L (author) on August 25, 2011:

@Karen N: Siamese are beautiful cats..and I hear they "talk" a lot. Thanks for reading and leaving your comments.

Karen N from United States on August 24, 2011:

My Siamese will occasionally steal things if she is bored, but it doesn't happen often so she must be pretty well adjusted.

Stacie L (author) on May 17, 2011:

@jpcmc: thank you for stopping by and commenting. animals have feeling also.

JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on May 16, 2011:

It's a good thing we don't have any problems of this sort at home.

I must agree that some pets feel abandoned when left outside. Our dog knocks until the wee hours of the night just to get some attention.

Stacie L (author) on May 10, 2011:

@schoolgirlforreal: thank you for reading and commenting!

Rosemary Amrhein on May 10, 2011:

Very interesting!! Thanks!!! Entertaining!!! LOL

Stacie L (author) on April 29, 2011:

@RTailoni: yes, there are klepto cats..dogs,ferrets..just like people!They have their issues as well.

RTalloni on April 28, 2011:

Kelto cat?!? I would have to come back to your hub if our precious kitty started that!

This is both funny and sad! Thanks for sharing the info--I think. ;-)

Stacie L (author) on April 16, 2011:

Surfraz: thank you for stopping by and reading my hub. I love to write about animals.

Surfraz from India on April 16, 2011:

i love this hub

Stacie L (author) on April 14, 2011:

thanks for reading and commenting viveresparado!

animal planet talks about people that hoard animals but i couldn't find the episode about Dusty.

viveresperando from A Place Where Nothing Is Real on April 14, 2011:

I loved this hub and the videos. Watched Dusty twice. Wonder if they ever aired what they recorded from Animal Planet?

Stacie L (author) on March 30, 2011:

ddsurfsca: that's funny about your cats behavior.

Maybe they don't steal from others is because they have each other. Most of the animals that steal seem to be alone in the house.


deb douglas from Oxnard on March 29, 2011:

We have two cats, and the only thing they steal is each others food. I set the bowls down, they each smell their own, and on cue, swap dishes for they are sure the other one has the better meal. Good hub, thanks

Stacie L (author) on March 29, 2011:

CMHype: hey that's something I've never heard of until now. I did have a cat years ago that loved being brushed..;-)

thanks for commenting!.

CMHypno from Other Side of the Sun on March 29, 2011:

Hi Stacie, Interesting hub! Years ago the cat next door used to come in our cat flap and take all our hair brushes, which our embarrassed neighbour then had to return! Why only hair brushes I don't know? My Mum's cat when she was on heat used to bring in things she had gotten out of bins, like half eaten pork chops, and stash them under the dining room table. She would guard them like her kittens and hiss and scratch if you tried to get them away, and then when she went out of heat, she would just lose interest and leave a stinky, mess behind her!

Stacie L (author) on March 29, 2011:

whatzis: thank you for that comment...cats can be funny!

whatzis on March 25, 2011:

How funny! I wondered where all these animal toys came from! My cat was stealing them from the dog across the street!

Stacie L (author) on March 12, 2011:

@dahoglund: not all dogs have this hoarding problem.

your dogs are well-adjusted :-)

Stacie L (author) on March 12, 2011:

@Truckstop Sally; cats are characters for sure thanks for reading!

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on March 12, 2011:

Interesting.When I started reading this I was thinking of animals like squirrels who I think just naturally hoard. i don't think I have ever run into it with our dogs.

Truckstop Sally on March 11, 2011:

Cats have such persoanlities. What is the saying -- something about cats owning their people (and not the other way around). Ha!

Stacie L (author) on March 11, 2011:

@AliciaC: thank you for taking the time to read the hub and see the videos.cats are funny cretures


Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 10, 2011:

I loved your hub and your great suggestions. I enjoyed the videos too - they were very funny! I've never heard of cats with such a love of collecting and hoarding.

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