He usually hangs out at the Peirce-du Pont House. (The cats at Longwood are all very territorial—and very tame. They love to be petted, but wary of being picked up and hugged by strangers.)
The story I heard was that a woman visitor thought she was being kind by giving a stray cat an appreciative home. She stuffed him in her backpack and walked out with him. When she got home, a friend told her the cats are important features at Longwood and not strays at all. They get fed daily, looked after by employees, and checked by a vet twice a year. The visitor returned Belin the next day.
Belin was taken shortly before closing, and an employee had just seen him. The entire cat-napping was easily found on a security video, which may have contributed to his quick return. The real story could be a call went out along the lines, “We know who you are and what you did. Just bring back the cat, no questions asked and no charges will be filed.” Longwood’s security is very diplomatic, but firm.
Lucky for them. Belin has many extremely devoted fans, both visitors and employees, and no telling what dire retribution they might take. Besides, Belin is semi-feral, used to roaming every night, defending his territory, and may not be so docile imprisoned in someone’s home.
The story is unconfirmed, but now all of the Longwood cats are wearing collars with a tag “Longwood cat,” just to avoid any misunderstanding (or claims of misunderstanding). Belin hates his collar, but that’s life in today’s world.
Note 10/13/2015: See end of posting of 11/24/2011, “Belin the Cat” for details of his passing.