A sick killer is feared to be targeting cats after the gruesome death of a beloved pet, reports of decapitations and a large number of unexplained disappearances.

A rescue shelter has issued a warning after Ukiyo, a four-year-old ragdoll cat, was dumped "in pieces" on the doorstep of his owner's neighbour in Addiscombe last month.

South Norwood Animal Rescue and Liberty (SNARL), a small rescue centre, contacted police after reports of two other suspicious deaths in the area, as well as cats returning home with unusual injuries and higher than average number of felines vanishing.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said it was "aware of concerns", including reports of a "stabbed" cat, but had not launched an investigation because of insufficient evidence.

Ukiyo, found in Dalmally Road on September 23, was removed by binmen before officers could examine him.

His owner was too distraught to speak this week, but Boudicca Rising, founder of SNARL, said: "The information that we've had was that the cat was decapitated with its belly slit, although we haven't been able to confirm that.

"He was well-known in the neighbour and he was very well-loved. To have him end that way is pretty awful. It is a very unusual crime. There are not many people who find joy in cutting up cats." 

The 44-year-old, who runs the rescue with her partner and co-founder Tony Jenkins, 51, said owners and vets had told her other similar attacks on other cats.

She said: "We discovered that there were essentially six cats missing, three of whom had been found on neighbours doorsteps with very particular injuries.

"We put a warning out on Facebook and what then happened is we got deluged with loads of information - people whose cats had gone missing and one whose cat had been found on a neighbour's doorstep.

"We've got three that have been reported by vets has coming back either decapitated or with slits tummy-to-tummy and a slit neck. We have also got a very high incidence of people reporting whiskers cut."

Another dead cat was found missing a leg and "on display" by a passer-by in Bywood Avenue, Woodside, said Ms Rising.

The couple have analysed reports online and found hundreds cats have gone missing in Addiscombe in the last year.

Belinda Hunter, 45, also of Dalmally Road, has not seen her four-year-old black shorthair since September 23 - the day Ukiyo disappeared from the same street - and is fearing the worst.

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She said: "We have been all over the [Addiscombe] Railway Park looking for him or his body. We are very concerned."

Another cat returned to its home in nearby Morland Road on September 23 with a neck wound and blood on its paws, said the rescue shelter.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "We have been liaising with local vets and we are aware of the concerns."

SNARL is appealing for anyone with concerns about their cat to contact them on 07957 830490, 07961 030064 or via the shelter's Facebook page.

Do you have information on this story? Call the newsdesk on 0208 722 6351 or email chris.baynes@london.newsquest.co.uk