WORRIED pet owners have called on the RSPCA to investigate what they fear could be a spate of 'catnappings'.
In the past three weeks, six cats have gone missing from Middlewich's Sycamore Drive estate, sparking fears that a thief could be targeting the area.
The issue first came to light after Shilton Close resident Marvin Hall lost his black and white tabby cat Felix.
He said: 'Felix is 15 years old and never goes out much further than our front garden. So when he went missing I was very worried.'
Mr Hall put up posters around the estate and posted leaflets through his neighbours' letterboxes, and didn't expect the responses he received. He said: 'People began to phone me, not to say they had seen Felix, but to tell me they had also lost their cats.
'They told me something similar happened around here about 18 months ago and no action was ever taken. Hopefully, this time we can put a stop to it. As so many have gone missing in such a short time I fear the worst, but if enough people report missing pets at least the police will be able to take action.'
William, a ginger and white tom belonging to Deborah Court of Shelley Close, went missing two weeks ago. She has visited Middlewich's vets and leafleted nearby houses in an attempt to find William, but to no avail.
Mrs Court said: 'I have covered a half-mile radius from my house - the farthest we've ever known him to go before - but with no luck.'
THE RSPCA says theft of cats is unusual because they have little value on the black market.
A spokesman said: 'It is unusual for cats to actually be stolen.
'But another possibility is that an individual who dislikes cats could be laying poison or traps.'
He offered these tips:
Make sure they are micro-chipped. If so, there is a good chance you will be reunited with your pet.
If you can't get a chip, get a collar. These are less reliable, as cats often lose them.
Get tomcats neutered. Unneutered toms can have a territory of several square miles. Neutered animals stray far less.
Don't let your cat out at night - cats live and hunt alone and are vulnerable to both human and non-human predators.