A rescue cat from Bristol has spent months pinching anything he can get his paws on.
Alice Bigge realised she was living with a thief when she woke up, opened her eyes and found herself looking at a diplodocus on her pillow.
Her family in The Chessels, Bedminster, took Charlie and his sister Smudge in as rescue cats after they had been abandoned as kittens - but his thievery is causing something of a headache for Alice.
She said: “When we got him and Smudge from the Moggie Rescue Centre, he wasn’t allowed out for three months or so, but it was almost as soon as he was allowed out that he began bringing things back through the cat flap.
“Over the course of a week or so, all these toy dinosaurs kept appearing in the house, which was really weird.
"We didn’t know what was happening, but one morning I woke up with a diplodocus right next to my head on my pillow and Charlie sat there looking proud of himself,” she explained.
A quick bit of detective work meant Alice was able to find the source of the toy dinosaurs - they were the sorting toys used in the courtyard classroom at The Chessels Centre nursery at the end of her road.
“It turned out he’d been going there and picking them all up and bringing them back here one by one,” she said. “But since then there was more. He never caught a bird or a mouse or anything like other cats do to bring back to me, he just goes off and finds whatever he can."So far that includes a random assortment of items, from toy cars and little plastic dinosaurs to clothes pegs, cutlery and even a pair of reading glasses.
“He brought back a rubber duck recently, which was quite large and I have no idea how he managed that - and got it through the cat flap,” she added. “He went through a phase of coming back with those little mini-skateboards too.”
On Saturday, after a pair of reading glasses suddenly appeared in her house, Alice decided that, given Charlie appeared to be progressing on to more serious-level crime, they really should try to reunite items with their owners.
Her daughter Martha, 11, a pupil at Southville Primary, and a friend Elsie, made a sign, headlined ‘Klepto-Cat’, followed by the kind of public judgement that would shame any criminal - except Charlie can’t read.“Our cat Charlie likes taking things,” the girls wrote. “Do any of these things belong to you? If they do please help yourself!” From the weekend, various items have been placed on the wall below the sign, including the pair of glasses, a toy car, a clothes peg and a camping spoon.The sign, Alice explained, was built to last. “We talked about what it should say, and the girls did a great job on it. I made it out of wood because we realised that this is going to be up there pretty much permanently, so we can pop anything on the wall as it comes in. The reading glasses were the thing that made me think ‘actually this is starting to be stuff people might miss'.“The thing is that I’m not quite sure how big the radius is of the area he roams. So I have no idea how far away he’s going to get stuff. He’s so funny though, he’ll just come in through the catflap and deposit a clothes peg or something down in front of you and sit there looking at you,” she added.
The cat burglary tendencies have not rubbed off on his sister Smudge. “She is a bit more disgusting, to be honest,” said Alice. “She brings in stones and shells and stuff, and worms.”
Charlie isn't the first Bristol cat to get a taste for the buzz of pinching things. Back in 2018, a cat called Tigger suddenly began bringing pool balls into his house in Downend.And remarkably, Charlie isn’t even the first cat to become a famous cat burglar in his particular Bedminster street either. Nine years ago, Richard and Sophie Windsor, who also lived in Garnet Street at the time, had a cat called Norris, who would bring back even more astonishing items - including sports bras, support pants, jumpers, T-shirts, boxer shorts and even a bath mat, as well as half a pizza, an unopened tube of gravy paste and a German sausage.Norris’ exploits went to the national and international press, with his owners even getting interviewed by American media.Norris and Charlie never met, so the police need not worry about some kind of generational cat crime school going on in Bedminster. But for Alice, the coincidence is uncanny, as well as the spookiness of that first diplodocus.
“It is really strange,” she said. “Waking up with a toy dinosaur on the pillow next to your head was unusual - it made me think of The Godfather.”