By Jim Birchall
Could the disappearance of a number of cats from the Farm Cove area be the work of an individual operating with nefarious intent?
The Times has been approached by a local resident, whose cat went missing in late 2018, and been supplied information about six other felines that have apparently gone missing and never returned over the past two years.
The usual evidence of an animal meeting its end via being run over or similar failed to materialise and the felines appear to have just vanished into thin air.
The Times has also been supplied with disturbing photos of a drowned long-haired cat which was found in the Farm Cove estuary.
The resident explained that she had personally known of three cats to have met the same fate, in the same stretch of water adjacent to the Rotary Walkway.
A theory was advanced that perhaps the cats had drowned as a result of misadventure, but given cats aversion to water and the repeated cases, this is may be drawing a long bow.
The SPCA was approached to supply statistics on missing cats in the area and the Times hoped to correlate the data and look for patterns to add credence to the speculation.
Communications manager Jessie Gilchrist had this to say: “We don’t have a database specifically for missing animals. For cats, I suggest people get in touch with lostpet.co.nz – this service is provided by the NZ Companion Animal Council and is an online noticeboard form for missing pets. SPCA uses this service too.”
According to wikivet, cats predominantly venture only within their home range of about 1-2 kilometres from residence, and to travel away from a well-pawed track is behaviour more commonly seen in dogs.
The case of the missing moggies draws unfortunate parallels with the Croydon cat-killer, an alleged decapitator who was said to roam south west London from 2015-2018. The Metropolitan police took the allegations seriously enough that a dedicated taskforce was established to apprehend the cat ripper. More than 2000 man-hours were tied up with the investigation, before ultimately concluding that the mutilations had not been carried out by a human, and were likely caused by wildlife predation or scavenging on cats killed in vehicle collisions,
The evidence was also dismissed by crime academics who cited the growing hysteria as an example of moral panic.
Trade Me co-founder and philanthropist Gareth Morgan has a particular disdain for the humble household cat, arguing they should be eradicated in order to re-establish native bird populations decimated by feline predation.
Could an individual with an axe to grind be responsible, or is it simply a sad case of beloved pets meeting an unfortunate end?