Heather Champ

Cat Burglar - By Heather Champ

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Princess Dorothea Blanche Champ was named for the two sooty spots that marred her otherwise perfectly white pelt of feline fur. We called her Dot for short.

What I didn't know was that white cats are typically deaf or mute. Dot's mother had been mute, but Dot wasn't. It wasn't until her six-month checkup that I realized Dot was deaf. But by then she'd already gotten a taste of the great outdoors, and it seemed mean to keep her in, so out the door she went every day. Dot was fearless.

At one point in our journey together, we inhabited a dingy apartment above a store on Queen Street West, Toronto. The back door of our apartment opened out onto the roof of a bicycle shop, and if you walked out the edge and turned around, you could survey all that was Dot's domain. I don't know what drove her to it, but my beautiful white cat turned to a life of crime.

I think it began with a pair of yellow rubber gloves. When I saw them casually discarded on the deck outside, I thought they'd fallen from one of the apartments above or beside us, perhaps carried on a strong gust of wind. I didn't think much of it until the socks started showing up.

Singles, pairs, grey, black, red – every morning there were more socks on the deck. It became clear that our Dot was the culprit. What do you do with a growing collection of stolen socks? We could poster the neighbourhood: "Are you missing socks? Do you live on the south side of Queen Street and leave your windows open? If so, then please call 555-1212 and ask for Dot, Cat Burglar Extraordinaire."

I caught her red-pawed one day. Randy had left his upstairs window cracked just a little too wide. When one balled pair of expensive hiking socks appeared on the deck, I went out to investigate, only to find Dot soaring through his window with another sock ball in her mouth. Her purloined pile grew; when she exhausted his supply of clean socks, I gathered them into a shopping bag and hung them from his door handle with a note attached.

    Dear Randy,
    Dot has broken in to your apartment and stolen your socks.
    We're very sorry,
    –Heather and Dot

Randy must have spread the word because, after that, Dot returned from the hunt empty-handed more often than not. She went on to have many adventures, despite her lack of hearing, and fell asleep forever in my arms years later in New York.

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