Middle Tennessee animal rescue offers cash reward for stolen Clarksville PetSmart kitten

A Clarksville nonprofit is hoping a cash reward will help authorities find a kitten that was stolen from a pet store during business hours this week.

The 12-week-old, black, brown and tan tabby cat was taken from the PetSmart on Wilma Rudolph Boulevard in Clarksville sometime between Tuesday and Wednesday, Puurrrfect Paws Rescue director Judy McGrew said Friday, noting that the kitten, named Beefaroni, had been recently neutered and was being kept inside a kennel next to his mother, Chef Boyardee, as the pair awaited adoption.

McGrew was the last person to see the kitten around 2 p.m. Tuesday.

“I know he was in his cage. I gave him wet food (Tuesday), and I cleaned his litter box, and it had already been used,” McGrew said. On Wednesday, the kitten and his mother were supposed to joined by his brother Meatballs in the kennel, and that’s when volunteers noticed that Beefaroni was gone, she said.

A call seeking comment from PetSmart for this story was not returned as of Friday afternoon.

In a store full of animals, McGrew said she could see how the theft could be overlooked. Pets are allowed inside, and there’s a veterinarian clinic and grooming salon on site.

No leads in case

Groups of cat lovers have united, offering $1,300 in reward money for Beefaroni’s safe return, McGrew said.

The Clarksville Police Department said the case would not be assigned to a detective unless it rose to the felony level, a spokesman said Friday. By law, a class E felony theft case involves property valued at $2,500 or more.

Beefaroni has dark brown fur with black stripes, tan undertones and dark yellow eyes. The kitten weighs about three pounds and will have a freshly shaved stomach and green tattooing, indicating his recent neutering procedure.

“He is super affectionate, loving. He would follow you around all over and meow, meow, meow,” McGrew said. “He loves attention. The one foster (family) that took him in to her place for a few weeks (said) he laid in bed with her daughter. He liked rubbing all over her kids. He loved to be held.”

This isn’t the first time Puurrrfect Paws Rescue has seen a pet theft case, McGrew said Friday.

“It is the second one that has happened to us,” she said. The first occurred at Pet Supplies Plus in Clarksville several years ago and led to enhanced protective measures for the animals, including sliding glass doors and locks.

Cages with locks were in use at the PetSmart, but McGrew said whoever took Beefaroni was able to unlatch hinges along the door on the double cage design and slide the kitten from under the cage.

“We’re going to either not keep kittens on the bottom on those double cages, or try to put chains at the top and bottom so you can’t pull both of them open,” McGrew said.

The store does have one camera, but McGrew said nothing suspicious stood out.

Overcoming odds

Puurrrfect Paws Rescue took Beefaroni, his mom, brother and sisters, Spaghetti and Beef Ravioli, in as strays. The group was found in Kentucky and was being housed at a Hopkinsville animal shelter when Chef Boyardee tested positive for leukemia.

The shelter wouldn’t retest for the disease and was planning to euthanize the cat because of the diagnosis, unless McGrew and her team stepped in, she said.

Puurrrfect Paws Rescue retested and got a negative result for leukemia, so they were able to prepare Chef Boyardee and her kittens for adoption, McGrew said. Like many animal rescue organizations, the Clarksville nonprofit said it uses PetSmart and other local pet stores to help get its cats and kittens adopted.

Since the rescue helps more than 1,100 cats each year, they have to get creative with names, McGrew said.

“Whenever a black kitty comes into the rescue, they all want to name it either Midnight, or Binx, or every calico, they always want to call it Cali,” McGrew said. “Whenever we got a momma cat and kittens, we’ll do a theme.”

It didn’t take long for his rescuers to notice that Beefaroni loved to eat just about anything they put in front of him, and while its not clear whether he liked his namesake canned dish, the kitten did enjoy chowing down on Purina One Healthy kitten dry food.

McGrew said whoever took Beefaroni will need to take care of him, especially by keeping the growing boy well-watered.

“People don’t know with kittens, you should make sure they have wet foods. It helps them keep hydrated. They don’t drink as much water like dogs, and they can get dehydrated very easily,” McGrew said.

Male kittens are also more prone to bladder blockages and urinary tract infections, which can be deadly. So McGrew made it a point to ask that whoever took Beefaroni give the kitten wet foods, like Fancy Feast and Sheba, or he could die.

Reach reporter Craig Shoup by email at cshoup@gannett.com and on X @Craig_Shoup. To support his work, sign up for a digital subscription to www.tennessean.com.