It all started with a glove. “I went into my bedroom about two years ago and there was a piece of glove on my bed,” recalls Jean Chu of San Mateo, Calif. “I yelled at my husband for leaving it there, and he said, ‘I think the cat brought it in.’ ” From then on, the couple and their two daughters — whose cat Dusty, then 1, liked to sneak out at night — noticed all sorts of random items popping up around their home: towels, underwear, pool toys and even a tiny baseball mitt.For a while, we just got rid of it,
But then I noticed a story on a blog about another cat who stole from his neighbors, so I decided to save it all.” Now, Chu records Dusty’s findings in a date book, and brings some of the more extraordinary items to her dental office. “My patients love seeing what he’s taken,” Chu says. “It’s always, ‘What did he get this time?’ “
You name it, Dusty has probably dragged it home. “The funniest was a bra, size 38D,” recalls Chu. “But he’s taken pieces of balloons, sponges, carwash mitts, soccer shoes, a pair of flippers for scuba diving, and a children’s birthday party goodie bag. Even swimsuits — at least five or six kids’ suits and five pairs of board shorts.” Recently, a neighbor caught on to Dusty’s ploy, and politely asked for her things back. “My husband found a bikini top on a Thursday night about four weeks ago,” Chu says. “Then the next morning, we found the bottom. I couldn’t wait to bring it to the office.” But as it turns out, the neighbor had washed her suit and hung it out to dry — and Dusty happened to snatch it up before she could put it away. “I’ve gone to our neighbors before asking if any of these items belong to them, so when something goes missing from their yards, they usually know who to call,” Chu laughs.
Surprisingly, Dusty doesn’t like to play with any of the gear he steals. “He leaves everything on the front step,” says Chu. “I try to get him to play with it, but he doesn’t show much interest.” And funnily enough, she’s only seen her cat in action once. “It was late at night, and I was out front,” she recalls. “He has a bell, so I heard him coming, and lo and behold, he was carrying a glove.” Dusty goes in and out of the family’s home through a doggie door, despite their early efforts to make him an inside cat. “After that first taste of the outdoors about two years ago, there was no keeping him inside,” says Chu.
Calling Dusty a “sweet, affectionate” cat, Chu says she doesn’t worry about his antics, though she does fret a bit about Dusty’s habit rubbing off on the family’s new kitten. “We’re trying to keep her inside,” she laughs. “Time will tell if she ends up like Dusty!”