INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

Corporal Cuffs the cat is missing, and police at the South Street ministation just want their feline friend returned.

No questions asked.

Cuffs was last seen sitting on a bench just outside the station at Ninth and South Streets late Wednesday. Police said a man with a red bicycle who was petting the cat may have mistaken Cuffs for a stray and taken him.

"Normally, he's not outside," Sgt. Paul Sprigg said.

One of the officers saw the man riding north on 10th Street with a cat. He called the station, but by the time other officers arrived, the cyclist had disappeared.

Cuffs has "been here since he was a kitten," Sprigg said, adding that the cat arrived three years ago to help with a mouse problem at the station.

The mice are gone, and now so is Cuffs.

Cuffs spent much of his time lounging in the station window or sitting on one of the police bicycles, Sprigg said. Cuffs usually wore a collar but pulled it off on Wednesday. The pet bed where he sleeps is still at the station along with an orange mouse toy - a gift from a neighbor.

"Everyone in the neighborhood knows Cuffs," Sprigg said. Two elderly cat-loving neighbors foot the bill for vet checkups, and children regularly stop in to visit the cat, who loves to play. Cuffs even has a calming effect on prisoners, Sprigg said.

"He's never met a person he didn't like," he said.

The 3-year-old yellow-and-white tabby with white back feet and what Sprigg described as "sort of long hair" has a sweet personality and a weakness for crabcakes.

"He's a little on the heavy side," Sprigg said.

The police have plastered the street outside their office with posters, contacted veterinarians' offices, and checked shelters daily hoping someone recognizes Cuffs and calls them.

"He's our sunshine, and someone took him," 34-year police veteran Andrew McDonald said.

Police asked anyone with information about Cuffs to call them at 215-922-6706.

Contact staff writer Mari A. Schaefer at 610-892-9149 or mschaefer@phillynews.com.