A cat was found decapitated in Tadworth after it went missing shortly before Christmas last year.

The head of Whiskers was found separated from her body after she was discovered behind Banstead Athletic Football Club’s ground, near Preston Manor Road, on January 16.

The case has been linked to the so-called Croydon Cat Killer, to whom more than 400 animal deaths and mutilations across the UK have been attributed.

It was following desperate appeals by her owners that they were told by someone at SNARL (South Norwood Animal Rights Liberty) who had seen the 10-year-old tabby cat’s body.

One of the pet owners, who does not wish to be named, said: “I was shocked. When he first spoke to me I didn’t register what he said. I understood sort of what have happened, but as soon as he said she died and her head wasn’t there I didn’t really listen.

“I was hysterical. When I called my mum she couldn’t talk to me because she was upset. I was more upset because I half thought that she was gone anyway, because she had been gone for so long, but because she didn’t leave the house she must have been terrified.

“She would have been in pain when she died. I think that was worse, the way she died, rather the fact that she was gone.

“If someone had told me that she had been hit by a car or they just found her and she had gone peacefully then I think I’d have been able to accept it easier than [being decapitated].”

Whiskers had been with the family for a decade and rarely left the house, being described as ‘almost like a dog’.

The owner said she would wake them up early for her breakfast, try to steal food from their plate during dinner, and rarely – if ever – leave the house.

But given the harrowing recent news it has prompted fear the head will return to the address while neighbours who also have pets are also guarded against one of their own being affected.

She added: “We used to keep her back doors open for the cat, and all the windows were always open to let the air in, but now she keeps the doors shut. Because they must have picked her up from our house because she never left, now my mum is keeping the doors shut.

“We’re scared the head is going to turn up and she is going to find it.

“Our neighbours our terrified as well because they’ve got pets, a few of them have got cats.”