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Cats in Kent, England are being shaved by an unknown perpetrator Lalrp

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LONDON — Cat house owners in England are going through a “bizarre” and “unsettling” downside: Somebody, someplace, is focusing on their pets and randomly shaving off elements of their fur.

Emma Collins first seen one thing disturbing when her cat named Goose returned after a time out exploring the streets of the seaside city of Whitstable. Straight down the center of the rescue tabby’s brow was a skinny, exactly shaven line, leaving her pores and skin uncovered.

Whereas the cat appeared in any other case unhurt, Collins described the incident as unnerving. “It was bizarre … it was nearly like somebody was sending a message — it was unsettling,” she mentioned in an interview Thursday. “Should you can shave a cat, what are you going to maneuver onto subsequent?”

At the very least 80 pets have reportedly had chunks of their fur sliced out since final yr, in keeping with an animal charity that is mapping out the attacks to assist warn involved house owners. The unusual incidents have acquired nationwide protection, with British media dubbing the unknown perpetrator the “phantom cat shaver.”

The overwhelming majority of assaults have been reported within the southern county of Kent, though the group has additionally recorded assaults in London and as far north as Aberdeen, Scotland.

On social media, concern is rising in native Fb teams, that are saturated with feedback from frightened house owners and pictures displaying the felines with bald patches. Some cats have been shaved on their legs, others on their backs or stomachs.

Some pet house owners on-line have described their cats being injured — whereas some who don’t seem like bodily harmed by the assaults nonetheless seem like extra anxious or afraid of individuals.

“My cat got here again with a lacking claw when he was shaved and wouldn’t let anyone contact him for days when he got here dwelling,” one person wrote.

In the UK, it is not uncommon to let cats go exterior to benefit from the recent air and roam freely — about 70 percent of U.K. cats are thought to have entry to the outside. However the assaults are additionally leaving individuals extra anxious now, with many house owners in Kent now saying they may maintain their pets inside.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), a British charity devoted to animal welfare, mentioned Thursday that cats had been notably weak due to their tendency to discover neighborhoods.

“We might urge any house owners whose cats have been victims of the shaving to e book an appointment with their vet. A veterinary examination will decide if that cat has skilled any bodily accidents, be it cuts and abrasions from the shaving or different accidents because of being held down,” Samantha Watson, scientific officer and cat professional on the RSPCA, mentioned in an emailed assertion.

“Cat house owners also needs to take into account reporting the incident to the police as shaving a cat may very well be deemed as legal injury,” Watson added.

Kent police mentioned individuals can report issues concerning animal welfare to legislation enforcement or the RSPCA. “The place we obtain a report, our officers will liaise with this charity, who’re the lead company for investigating incidents involving cruelty or hurt to animals,” the police division mentioned in an electronic mail to The Washington Publish on Thursday.

It’s not clear if the reported incidents break any legal guidelines. Underneath U.K. animal welfare legislation, it’s an offense to “trigger pointless struggling” to generally domesticated animals.

Natasha McPhee, who runs Kent-based charity Animals Misplaced and Discovered, mentioned Thursday that the assaults had been “merciless and mindless.”

“Not solely is the cat being dealt with by somebody they don’t know, they’re having to be held by them for a time period for these shavings to be achieved,” McPhee mentioned in an electronic mail. “This causes pointless stress to the cats.”

McPhee speculated that, given the size of the assaults, multiple individual could also be accountable.

“In all honesty I can’t think about all circumstances are achieved by one particular person,” she mentioned.

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Rescue cat house owners have described the assaults as notably upsetting when it leaves their cats much more anxious than earlier than. The proprietor of George, a rescue cat left with a zigzagged chunk of fur lacking, informed native media she “was so indignant that some nasty human had determined to shave my cat” as a result of he was now “much more skittish in the direction of individuals.”

Collins considers herself fortunate that her tabby, Goose, regardless of being shaved, isn’t emotionally scarred and remains to be “super-duper pleasant.”