GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — Two women face potential catnapping charges after the owner of a cat cafe in downtown Green Bay said one of their kittens was stolen Thursday.
It was a typical weekday at Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary, a no-kill non-profit cat rescue where visitors hang out with cats of all ages and abilities. Some cats are partially paralyzed and need consistent staff attention, while others have asthma or special diets.
"It was around 3:30 o'clock yesterday afternoon that I got a call that one of our kittens was stolen," SHPS owner Elizabeth Feldhausen said. "And so right away, me and two of the other managers got on the security cameras and had found that only two girls had been in the kitten room."
In the designated kitten room, a mother cat and her babies are kept separate from the rest of the sanctuary's cats in order to monitor their milk intake and growth until the kittens can be vaccinated. At the time, one mother Catlizabeth was caring for kittens from two litters because another mother had rejected her babies.
After two women left the room, one staff member quickly realized one kitten was missing.
"In the past, we will just count the kittens after someone leaves," Feldhausen said. "So we count them to make sure they're all still there, and Chloe – the attendant who was working – went in to count the kittens. After the girls left I noticed that one was missing, but they had run out the door already, so they were being very quick about it."
Feldhausen knew that this theft directly posed a danger to the kitten itself.
"Although some of the kittens are weaned, Moira and one of her siblings are the younger ones, and they do still rely on mom for their nutrients," Feldhausen explained. Without her mother as a milk source, the kitten's health was in danger.
Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary has a considerably large social media following, with over 44,000 likes on its Facebook page. Feldhausen frequently shares updates about incoming cats and their health journeys with followers.
"I was honestly in disbelief," Feldhausen said. "We flipped the whole building, just to make sure. I had to confirm a million times like she didn't get under a couch or something crazy like that because you never know. Sometimes cats end up in crazy places when they want to hide. So I was honestly just in disbelief."
The post saw rapid engagement online, which allegedly pressured the suspects to return the kitten that same evening. Feldhausen said she and the two suspects gave statements to Green Bay Police Department on Thursday evening.
"After their faces were kind of put all over the internet and all over Facebook, it's almost like they turned on each other. They were trying to turn each other in," Feldhausen said. "So, ultimately, Facebook got Moira back."
Green Bay Police said in a statement catnapping charges were referred to the District Attorney's Office.
"I know that their statements and everything has been sent over to the DA and the charges are actually for catnapping – so I didn't realize catnapping was a real thing," Feldhausen said. "I kind of thought Officer Mavis was joking but catnapping is an actual crime and that's the way you call it."
Commander Kevin Warych of the Green Bay Police Department gave this statement to NBC 26:
On Thursday, April 29, 2021, a non-profit organization Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary located at 151 N. Broadway Street in the City of Green Bay, Brown Co., WI reported a theft of a 6 week old kitten from their establishment at approximately 3:30 PM.
Shortly after reporting the incident video footage was provided of 2 female suspects in connection with the theft. The footage and information was shared via social media and the kitten was safely returned to the sanctuary.
Two females were identified and circuit court charges of Cat Napping- WI state statute 951.03, were referred to the District Attorneys Office.