ST. CATHARINES, Ont. - The cat came back, but it wasn't the next day.
And it had a police escort.
A 52-year-old St. Catharines woman is facing a charge of theft under $5,000 after allegedly applying a five-finger discount to a kitten at the Lincoln County Humane Society.
Unbeknownst to the woman, the lifting of the male kitten was captured by surveillance cameras.
Humane society executive director Kevin Strooband said staff noticed on the morning of Dec. 10 one of three kittens kept in the same cage was missing. Staff scoured the shelter looking for the eight-week-old fluff bunny.
"We checked around the shelter, but we couldn't find it anywhere," Strooband said.
While staff continued to search the shelter, Strooband reviewed surveillance footage and came to a point where there were two cat socializers handling two of the three kittens. He put in a call to them to see if there were only two kittens at that time, giving him a reference point in which to review surveillance.
"Finally, on the 13th, I found a lady who was at the front desk for awhile," Strooband said. She walked into the cat room, came back out, went back in again, picked up the cat, played with it, put it back in the cage, came back to the front desk, went back into the cat room. You could see her take the cat out, then it disappears."
The shelter also captured the suspect on a camera outside the Fourth Ave. building.
"Then she walks out of the shelter, we can see her on camera go to her car, presumedly put the kitten into her car, comes back into the shelter and takes advantage of our food-assistance program for people who need help feeding their pets."
The shelter offers pet owners who need help feeding their pets free food once every three months. In order to get the pet food, the individual is required to register, which includes giving a name and address.
Armed with a description of a woman and a licence plate number from the surveillance footage, Niagara Regional Police spokesman Const. Derek Watson said officers went to a St. Catharines home where they recovered the kitten and charged an unidentified woman with theft under $5,000.
She was released at the scene and given a court date. She is to appear in court Jan. 31.
The kitten was returned unharmed to the Lincoln County Humane Society.
The kitten had been adopted when it was stolen but was still at the shelter awaiting neutering.
The purchase price of cats at the humane society was dropped from $99 to $25 in November.