Cat-nappers fear as moggies go missing

A VILLAGE is once again at the centre of a mystery involving the strange disappearance of much of its cat population.And suspicions of foul play have heightened after the return of one lost Tom with an airgun pellet lodged in his shoulder blade.

A VILLAGE is once again at the centre of a mystery involving the strange disappearance of much of its cat population.

And suspicions of foul play have heightened after the return of one lost Tom with an airgun pellet lodged in his shoulder blade.

Colne Engaine, near Halstead, hit the headlines last year when more than 20 felines disappeared from their homes in a short space of time - leading to fears that a "cat-napper" was on the prowl.

A police investigation was launched but, amid wild speculation as to the whereabouts of the missing moggies, the enquiry drew a blank.


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But just when residents felt they were safe to let their cats out again, about 15 of the village's felines have now vanished in recent months – and no bodies have so far been discovered.

Animal lover Julie Moore has called a public meeting to see if anyone can help solve the mystery.

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She said: "I know that one or two could get run over, but all of these have disappeared without trace of any shape or form.

"I had heard, last time, some people say there was a van going round picking them up, but this time those people ringing me are suggesting it's a local person who probably does not like or does not want cats on their property."

Mrs Moore has distributed posters and leaflets through the village as part of her attempt to unravel the problem.

Meanwhile, across the community shocked pet owners have been speaking out.

Michelle Kemp's cat, Arthur, returned home earlier this year in agony and after a trip to the vets it emerged the six-year-old had been hit by an airgun pellet.

Mrs Kemp of Rainbow Way said: "He had been out all day and came home later one night and was in a lot of distress.

"It led to lots of vets fees – I can't believe someone would target him."

Last night, Lindsay Lane, of Highcroft, whose two cats, China and Jake, both went missing within the space of two weeks said she did not want to speculate about what had happened to her two pets.

"Unfortunately, I am not very hopeful that they will be found – I am always seeing black cats and asking where they came from, but have had no joy. Nobody has seen anything," she said.

Like the previous time the cats started going astray, rumours are once again rife that the pets could have been shot and the bodies disposed of.

An RSPCA spokeswoman said last night: "Cats can disappear for a variety of reasons. They are sometimes very independent animals and may wander off and find new homes. Unfortunately, if a cat is badly hurt or injured they will also sometimes hide themselves away and die. 

"Sadly, many cats are never reunited with their owners and so the RSPCA urges owners to get their pets micro-chipped."

Essex police said yesterday they were aware of the issue and an officer was investigating.

A public meeting to discuss the problem will be held at the Colne Engaine village hall this Friday between 7.30pm and 8.30pm.

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