Animal crack­ers!

It didn’t take In­spec­tor Claw- seau long to work out the iden­tity of Shel­ley’s fe­line felon...

Real People - - CONTENTS - with Jane Com­mon

Fe­line felons

Wak­ing up, I was clamped into place by four cats sleep­ing around my body. ‘Morn­ing,’ I said grog­gily. Then a fifth cat dashed into the bed­room, a pair of mis­chievous green eyes met mine, and a loud meow broke the si­lence.

The trou­ble­maker had ar­rived! ‘Hello, Paddy,’ I said. ‘Where’ve you been all night?’

The Night Ban­dit, as we called him, had no doubt been at large, wreak­ing havoc on our sleepy Suf­folk town…

It was March 2017, and I was cat-sit­ting for my Un­cle Paul and Aunt Les­ley.

Paddy, four, a stat­uesque grey and white cat, was a Nor­we­gian For­est – ap­par­ently his an­ces­tors were mousers on Viking ships.

I could well be­lieve that – tough cats for tough times, and Paddy had in­her­ited their genes.

Un­cle Paul adopted Paddy in 2015, af­ter his pre­vi­ous owner passed away.

The evening he ar­rived, I popped round to meet him.

‘He’s so timid,’ I said as he

crouched in a cor­ner of the room, eye­ing us sus­pi­ciously.

But that soon changed.

Next morn­ing, Paul woke to find Paddy drink­ing from the kitchen tap.

When he’d fin­ished, he pushed the tap down with his paw to switch it off!

Over the com­ing weeks, Paul and Les­ley of­ten woke to find Paddy had brought them a present overnight.

Not the sorts of presents most cats bring, ei­ther, but plant pots and kids’ sand­wich boxes stolen from their neigh­bours.

If his haul was too big to fit through the cat flap, he de­posited it in pride of place on the pa­tio.

‘What have you brought me this morn­ing, Paddy?’ I asked now, head­ing down­stairs with the cats, all de­mand­ing break­fast.

Paddy was the leader – Peb­bles and Pringle, the nine-month-old kit­tens, and Pepsi, two, wor­shipped him. Pinto, 16, wasn’t im­pressed, though. He just wanted a quiet life, and Paddy dis­rupted that am­bi­tion.

Still, the hall and kitchen were clear of con­tra­band this morn­ing.

So I opened the back door and, sure enough – a big ter­ra­cotta plant pot with what looked like the re­mains of a beau­ti­ful or­chid in it lay on its side on the pa­tio.

Hard to iden­tify the flower af­ter it had been dragged from God knows where...

‘How do you do it?’ I asked Paddy, baf­fled. He just waved his big feather duster of a tail and gave me an im­pe­ri­ous look as if to say, ‘I’m not giv­ing away my trade se­crets.’

So, Paddy’s at it again,

I texted Paul and Les­ley. Shall

I ask the neigh­bours if they’re miss­ing a plant pot?

I’ll add it to the list on Face­book, Paul replied.

A few months ear­lier, he’d writ­ten an in­ven­tory of Paddy’s ill-got­ten gains on our town’s com­mu­nity page.

If one of our neigh­bours lost some­thing, they knew ex­actly where to look...

So far, Paddy had pinched count­less soft toys, 25 plant pots, a Manch­ester United foot­ball, a bucket and spade, and even a dog’s bone.

‘Can you steal these in­stead?’ Paul teased him, wav­ing £20 notes in his face.

Dur­ing my two-week stay, Paddy gifted me an­other plant pot and a yel­low toy ba­nana.

I laid them all in a pile in the gar­den for Paul to deal with on his return.

By the end of my cat-sit­ting du­ties, I was ex­hausted.

It was hard to re­lax with a glass of wine in front of Easten­ders of an evening with Paddy lead­ing the cats in a Viking war dance along the back of the sofa.

But, lately, he’s been lead­ing the younger ones in some­thing else, too – his crim­i­nal un­der­world!

‘Now Pepsi’s steal­ing at night, too,’ Paul gulped the other day.

He’d caught her bounc­ing through the cat flap with an empty KFC box in her gob. Hardly a di­a­mond heist, but... ‘This is how it starts,’ Paul shud­dered.

Still, what could we do?

Paddy might be a rogue, but he’s a lov­able one and every­body who col­lects their stolen be­long­ings sees the funny side of be­ing struck by the furry felon.

So the Night Ban­dit’s crim­i­nal ca­reer will con­tinue, with a cou­ple of keen ap­pren­tices in tow.

Paddy’s a cat bur­glar, all right – lock up your plant pots!

Shel­ley Rip­pin­gale, 21, New­mar­ket, Suf­folk

Paddy likes to bring presents

Cat bur­glar! Who can stay mad at that face?

Paddy’s our lov­able rogue

Just a few of the things Paddy has ‘gifted’ us

of Flow­er­pots are some Paddy’s favourite loot

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