Blaming the Cat

Ransom Riggs

I have a cat. Last time I moved apartments, my then-landlord cited a "cat-pee smell" in one of the closets as an excuse to keep most of our deposit for cleaning fees. But wouldn't you know it: that particular closet was the one place in our house the cat was never allowed to go. Thus, my ex-landlord was participating in a long and storied tradition known as blaming the cat. I've been seeing a lot of cat-blaming in the news lately, and I thought this might be a good time to aggregate all the instances I've run across into one place, just to highlight their collective absurdity.

For instance, just the other day English cricket star Graeme Swann was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. His excuse? He said he was "on his way to buy screwdrivers to help rescue his cat." The BBC explains:

He told police he had been out and returned to his West Bridgford home to find the pet trapped under floorboards. Mr Swann, of Seymour Road, got out of the driver's seat with something glinting in his right hand, the officer said. She added: "As he approached us, from the manner of driving I thought we had a burglar or a stolen vehicle. "He was waving the screwdrivers, saying, 'It's not for what you think, the screwdrivers aren't for what you think'. He stated the cat was trapped under floorboards and he continually asked us to contact (his wife Sarah) and a call was made to a sergeant to attend the address and make sure the cat was okay."

Then there's the Floridian man who was arrested last August for having kiddie porn on his computer. Griffin told police he had been downloading music, and that his cat jumped on the keyboard when he left the room. He said "strange things" appeared on the computer when he returned. The cat apparently had quite a predilection for the stuff -- it downloaded over 1,000 images.

This terrible incident was reported in the Plymouth, Mass police blotter circa 2007:

A man in Plymouth was arrested for beating up a kitten in a CVS parking lot. Robert J. Frates, 25, blamed the cat for his despicable actions, claiming the cat peed on him. The poor cat, whose owner is unknown, had to be put to sleep.

Sometimes, though, it really is the cat's fault. Last month in Southampton, England, locals suspected that some kleptomaniacal pervert was responsible for all the washing that had been disappearing from people's lines -- especially women's underwear. Turns out it was a neighbor's cat:

"He started bringing socks home a few months ago and then gardening gloves which we tracked to our neighbor," his owner Peter Weismantel told the Southern Daily Echo newspaper. "Then we had a situation in which he brought back young women's underwear," said Peter, 72. "It began to escalate and I telephoned the police as people must have been missing clothes -- especially with women's underwear being taken." The couple have been fostering Oscar from Southampton's Cats Protection charity since Christmas. Since then he had also pinched builder's gloves, a knee-pad, a paint roller, rubber gloves, and 10 pairs of children's underpants. On average he commits 10 robberies a day.