RESIDENTS on the same street claim a number of cats have disappeared in mysterious circumstances after one was shot dead by an air gun at the weekend.
Eddie and Barbara Martin of Collingwood, Clayton-le-Moors, were stunned when their two-year-old ginger tom Dennis, bolted through an open kitchen window last Saturday evening.
They were later horrified when they found him howling in distress outside under a bush, with a serious stomach wound. He died minutes later.
Emotional Eddie said: "When I picked him up I was covered in blood. We had to report it to the police on Saturday after he died. We took him to an emergency vet on Sunday morning and they x-rayed him and confirmed he had been shot in the stomach."
Eddie has now begun leafleting the area for information.
He claimed: "All the neighbours are shocked. There’s somebody out there who’s taken a pot at him and killed a helpless animal. It’s frightening. My wife is distraught and I just cannot believe the cruelty of some people."
The couple’s first cat James disappeared in September 2005 and a second, Molly, also vanished just five months later – and they are not the first cats to go missing in the neighbourhood.
Three doors down, Steve Driver says his cat Morgan, cared for by daughter 15-year-old Jessica, went missing in October 2007, while a cat called Elsa belonging to Mr Driver’s next-door-neighbour Christina Lennermann, met the same fate in summer 2006.
Steve said: "Eddie’s had quite a few people ringing him up expressing sympathy and telling him of all these disappearances nearby.
"A cat is not just a cat, it’s a member of the family."
Christina added: "My two children were really upset."
A police spokesman confirmed a joint investigation was being carried out with the RSPCA into the shooting of a cat with an air rifle.
Anyone with any information is asked to call 51212 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.