07/31/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT
Everybody had a theory about the vanishing shoes. "I was accusing my daughters," says Sandra Kemminga. Says A.J. Gallant: "I figured we were dealing with some strange dude, a shoe-fetish guy." Then they saw the poster: "Missing any shoes, gloves, etc.? We have a cat burglar on the prowl." On it was Amber Queen's phone number and a photo of Moo, her cat, unmasked as the shoe thief of Guelph, Ont.
Moo, a 17-lb. neutered male with an Imelda Marcos-like shoe jones, roams nightly through a five-square-block territory of Guelph, about 50 miles west of Toronto, taking anything not nailed down. Moo, 2, favors footwear—shoes, clogs, work boots—but he'll take anything appropriately sized, including magazines, toys and gardening gloves. "He goes nuts for socks, but only two rolled into a ball," says Queen, 30, a dietary assistant who lives with her husband, trucker Ray Kraus, 36, their newborn son, Eric, and her bartender mother, Susie, 65. "It gets so you hate to walk in the living room in the morning."
Sleeping on the ground floor, Susie knows immediately when Moo has been plundering. "You hear a bang when he butts his head into the cat door," she says. "Then he maneuvers whatever he has in. Then he goes out again." It got so bad last year that the Guelph Mercury ran a daily tally of Moo's acquisitions. And with the arrival of summer, prime scavenging season for Moo, the people of Guelph are again advised to lock up their shoes. "Moo won't be locked in," says Queen despairingly. Be warned, Guelph. The summer games have begun.