A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

Nicking the Knickers

Oscar has a fetish for frilly underwear.

Peter and Birgitt Weismantel decided they simply had to call the police. The situation was getting desperate. Any time now, their neighbors would conclude that a pervert was on the loose in the neighborhood.

The “pervert” happens to be Oscar, a 13-year-old cat the couple took in to their home in Southampton, England, as a foster last Christmas. They’ve been looking after him ever since and plan to adopt him formally.

The only thing is, soon after Oscar joined the household, he started bringing home “items,” as 72-year-old Peter Weismantel, a retired teacher, politely calls them.

So far, the alleged kleptomaniac has brought home more than 70 such items, ranging from frilly underwear (known in England as “knickers”) to gardening gloves to socks … even a paint roller. One week, he brought home, one by one, 10 pairs of children’s underpants.

Oscar’s intentions are apparently entirely honorable. “He started bringing socks into the house,” says Mr. Weismantel. “He was very proud that he had found these presents for us and would drop them at our feet.”

Mrs Weismantel insists that Oscar has a delightful personality. “If anyone is missing any underwear,” she adds reassuringly, “it would be good to put their minds at rest that it’s only a cat pinching them and not someone more unpleasant.”

The couple are keeping all the items in the hope that they might, one day, be able to return them to their rightful owners.

American cat lovers, incidentally, might understandably react to Oscar’s thieving ways by suggesting that he should simply be kept indoors. But while indoor living is the lifestyle recommended by American humane organizations, their British counterparts see it quite differently. Keeping cats locked indoors is, to them, considered positively inhumane. Many cat rescue groups and shelters won’t even adopt their kitties to people who plan to keep them shut indoors.