The "Croydon cat killer," a mystery that has haunted pet owners in Britain for three years, may have finally been solved, and foxes are partially to blame for the hundreds of feline deaths, officials announced Thursday.
An investigation was launched in 2015, after bodies of countless mutilated cats were found in Croydon and the surrounding area, BBC reported.
Since then, over 500 cats have died at the hands of the "Croydon cat killer," although no evidence was found to prove there was ever any human involvement.
Earlier this year, the arrest of a 24-year-old believed to be responsible for butchering, skinning and decapitating cats in a church park ignited speculation that the serial cat killer may finally have been caught, but this was later dismissed, Metro.co.uk reported.
Now Scotland Yard believes the gruesome injuries and mutilations inflicted on the hundreds of cats over the years was the "result of predation or scavenging by wildlife on cats killed in vehicle collisions" and that foxes were at least partly responsible for some of the cases.
Stuart Orton from Hertfordshire Police said the notion of "a person or persons travelling the country and mutilating animals" had been eliminated.
"Evidence suggests the animals had been predated by foxes — in a rabbit's case after being removed from a hutch, and in a cat's case after death, likely caused by a road traffic collision," he said, according to BBC. "I hope this conclusion brings comfort to pet owners who have, up until now, been frightened to let their animals out at night."
However, outraged pet owners insisted the serial cat killer was still at large, The Evening Standard reported.
Cat owner Samantha Glass issued a warning to the "sick and twisted individual" that they were "coming for you," while another enraged owner, Helena Smith, questioned the authority's final conclusion.
"I found my cat with her tale cut off with straight incisions by her tailbone and her intestines laid out in a circle with no mess," she said in a tweet. "What fox does that?"
Frontline Policing Commander Amanda Pearson noted that police are constantly inundated with calls relating to animal welfare.
"We will always assist the public in an emergency, but I would urge people to report concerns relating to animal welfare in the first instance to the RSPCA," she said, according to Metro.co.uk.
Pearson added that it was a collation of reports that enabled officers to "work with experts and reach the conclusion that no further police investigations are required into any of the allegations relating to mutilated cats."
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