Bony kitten in photo sparks debate about selling pets in Brampton

A catnapping at a Brampton, Ont., pet store set off a social media firestorm — but not to get the little kitten returned to the shop.

PJ's Pet Centre says cat was thinner because it had been kidnapped and was still stressed

This picture of Cleo was posted on Facebook by a woman who saw her in PJ's Pet Centre in Brampton after she said she was worried the kitten seemed too thin. (Contributed)

A catnapping at a Brampton, Ont., pet store set off a social media firestorm — but not to get little Cleo returned to the shop.

In fact, Peel police tracked down the $1,500 kitten within 24 hours of the theft, which happened just before Christmas. Security footage showed two women smuggling the little furball out of the store, Const. George Tudos said.

But when a customer snapped a photo of Cleo shortly after the kitten's return, she posted it on Facebook and said she was concerned about how thin the animal seemed.

Others began questioning Cleo's health and a larger debate emerged about the care provided by pet stores.

Call for more scrutiny

The All Paws Rescue advocacy group launched a petition after seeing Cleo's photo, calling for the city to ban pet stores from selling cats and dogs. It's a move that's already been adopted by Toronto, Mississauga and Vaughan, volunteer Norman Savaille said.

So far, more than 2,000 people have signed the petition.

Savaille said there's not enough scrutiny over pet stores to ensure the animals are coming from a reputable breeder.

"We don't know where they're coming from ...  and we already have many cats and dogs that need homes."

PJ's Pet Centre released these photos showing Cleo in more recent days, saying she's put on weight after her catnapping. (Contributed)

PJ's Pets released a statement to CBC saying that the kitten got a clean bill of health after it was returned to the store.

"The stress of the situation caused her to lose weight, which she is now starting to regain," the statement says. "Throughout the entire period she was well-cared for, continued to eat, drink and play normally."

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