‘Phantom cat shaver’ on loose across Britain as nearly 100 pets sheared
A "phantom cat shaver" targeting pets across the UK has now sheared nearly 100 animals, prompting a nationwide investigation.
The mystery thug is thought to be using hair clippers to remove the felines' fur, leaving them with bald patches.
Until last week the evasive attacker had struck 54 times, mostly in Kent and south-east London, with the first cases reported in Chatham and Rainham.
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But in just a week the number of incidents being investigated jumped by 30, with the number of cases now totalling 84.
Most of these new strikes are in the same region, but some are much further away, with one cat having been shorn in Cragie, near Aberdeen, and another in Rugely, near Stafford, Staffordshire, prompting fears copycat shavers could be at work.
Pet owners have also had their beloved furry friends attacked in Southampton and Littlehampton, West Sussex.
Emma Collins, from Whitstable, had her own cat attacked by the slippery assailant, leaving it with a patch of bare skin down its forehead.
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"It was weird… it was almost like someone was sending a message. It was unsettling," she said.
"If you can shave a cat, what are you going to move onto next?"
Other pet owners have said their cats have emerged from the attack injured, while others reported their cats may be physically unharmed but are now more nervous around people.
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Gillingham-based non-profit Animals Lost and Found in Kent are now investigating, with charity boss Natasha McPhee warning cat owners to be vigilant and report cases to the police and RSPCA.
"This first started in our area back in November and have happened across the UK now," she said.
"I have no explanation why or who would do such a thing."
"In many cases the cats are left traumatised and it's very upsetting for owners as well.
"I can only imagine that the people carrying out these attacks are doing it for their own self-gratification or some kind of cheap thrill.
"Personally I think they are sick and need to be caught as quickly as possible."
The RSPCA echoed calls for pet owners to look out for their animals and to report any incidents to themselves or the police.
RSPCA Chief Inspector Patrick Hamby said: "We may not be able to do something right away as it's very difficult if you have no leads to go on, but it lets us know what is going on and the areas it is happening in, so we can concentrate more in those areas.
"If a cat has been shaved, it would have had to have been held down by someone they don't know, which would put a lot of stress on the cat.
"Your cat may show signs of not wanting to go out anymore, or wanting to go out much less."
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