Q. Our Siamese cat regularly brings us "gifts" of cuddly toys, presumably stolen from children in the neighbourhood. We always remove them from him straight away and try to discourage him from bringing us these offerings. Apart from making him unpopular with our neighbours, we are concerned that our first baby, who is due soon, is going to be deprived of all of her toys. How can we teach him that these are not prey? Louise Chesworth, Kent
A. As I've discussed in a previous column, this is a very difficult behaviour to stop, but having a kleptomaniac cat is more common than you think! You are doing the right thing by showing disapproval when he brings you these unwanted presents. You could try locking him out of the house for a while with his gifts, which will take the fun out of bringing them to you. This may seem drastic, but unless you sort this situation out soon, you may have a cat "burglar" for ever. When he loses interest in the toys, let him in without the toy and give him a reward, such as food treats.
Make sure that he has lots of his own toys and that you dedicate some time to playing with him each day, especially with the new baby coming – this can be a stressful time not only for you but also for your pet. They can suddenly feel neglected.
Cats like to play at dusk and dawn. This is when they have the most energy. A great toy that you can use while sitting down is a laser. Cats love to chase that beam!
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