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Dusty the Cat Burglar (Klepto Kitty) Atones for his Crimes

By Julia Williams

When Jean Chu and Jim Coleman visited their local animal shelter five years ago, they were just hoping to find a friendly feline that would fit nicely into their family. Little did they know that the handsome kitty they chose would eventually become one of the most famous cats in America!

Dusty’s penchant for prowling the neighborhood and carting home his prey led to him being featured on the popular Animal Planet series Must Love Cats, which catapulted him to fame. What’s so unusual about a cat bringing home his kill? Unlike most feline hunters, Dusty doesn’t catch mice or rats – he goes after towels, gloves, shoes, socks, children’s toys, swimsuits, bras, and anything else he can find! He then carries his loot home and deposits it proudly on the lawn or driveway.

Dusty’s thieving ways were captured on tape for the show. The sight of a cat waddling up the driveway with a bra in his grasp was hilarious. Millions of people fell in love with the quirky cat burglar from San Mateo, California and “Klepto Kitty” became the talk of the town. News stations clamored to interview Dusty, and he even appeared on David Letterman.

Klepto Kitty was so popular that Must Love Cats decided to feature him on a second episode. His owners held a “reverse garage sale” that they dubbed Dusty Gives Back. All of the items Klepty Kitty nabbed in the dark of night were available for their rightful owner to claim for free. Dusty’s family had often tried to return the pilfered loot to the neighbors by going door to door, so the reverse garage sale seemed like a better idea. Klepto Kitty was on hand (on paw?) during the event, and seemed unfazed that his family was giving away everything he went to great lengths to steal.

Next up for Klepto Kitty on the road to redemption was an appearance in the sixth annual Fashion for Compassion, an animal fashion show created to raise money for the care and rehabilitation of neglected or abused animals. Klepto Kitty was the first celebricat to participate in the fashion show put on by the Peninsula Humane Society, the shelter Dusty had been adopted from five years earlier.

Klepto Kitty has also been named Honarary Grand Marshall of the 10th Annual Pet Parade in Redwood City, California, which takes place on May 21st, 2011. This family-friendly celebration of pets includes vendor booths, demonstrations, food, music and lots of fun activities for everyone. Some of the items Klepto Kitty took from his neighbors will be auctioned off to raise money for the homeless dogs and cats at the Peninsula Humane Society.

Jean Chu believes that over the years Dusty has nabbed more than 500 items, with his biggest haul being 11 things in a single night. I’ll bet Klepto Kitty took a nice long catnap after that exhausting crime spree!

One explanation for kleptomania in cats is that it stems from urban felines not being able to fulfill their natural hunting instinct. The term even has a name – misdirected predation. Some have also likened the behavior to a kind of feline obsessive compulsive disorder. Either way, there is no cure, so Dusty the Cat Burglar is likely to continue his life of crime. Those who live in Klepto Kitty’s neighborhood better bring their things in at night, or they’ll likely find them gone in the morning!

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