Keeping your pet safe from the 'M25 Cat Killer'
Since 2015, the so-called 'M25 Cat Killer' has been linked to the murder and mutilation of around 370 animals across the UK, including cats, rabbits and foxes. He tends to target residential areas.
Cats that go outside and rabbits housed in gardens may be most at risk, so we urge pet owners to be vigilant about monitoring their animals when outside, and ask that all residents report any suspected victims to SNARL on 07961 030064 or 0795783090 and the police on 101.
Here are some tips for keeping your pets safe from attacks, which are particularly important if you live in an area that has been targeted in the past.
• If possible, keep cats inside. If not possible, keep cats inside at night, or when you plan to be out of the house for long periods. You can also give cats supervised access to the outdoors only, or walk them on a specialised cat harness.
• Ensure that you have a cat flap, so that if threatened or scared, your cat can access your home straight away.
• If possible, check on your cats periodically whilst they are outside. Ask your neighbours to keep an eye on them, too.
• Try to restrict your cats’ access to your back garden only. It’s often far safer for your cat to explore a network of gardens than the streets.
• Have your pet microchipped so he or she can be quickly identified if needed.
• Bring guinea pigs, rabbits and outdoor animals inside. Hutches and cages have been reportedly forcibly broken into, so padlocks may add some security but are not a full-proof deterrent.
• Maintain a strict feeding schedule, so that your cat gets into the habit of returning home for a meal at the same time every day.
• Installing security lights, CCTV cameras or dummy CCTV cameras in back and front gardens is also an option for added safety. 'CCTV in operation' signs will ensure that cameras do not go unmissed.
• Do not leave your dogs tied up outside shops, particularly at night.
• Installing cat-proof fencing is an option if you wish to limit your cats’ outside access to your garden only, or creating a ‘catio’.
• GPS collars for cats are also available, though they have a limited range.
• Do not advertise your pet as ‘free to a good home’ online, or rehome to anyone you do not know well or have not investigated thoroughly.
• Reduce how far your cat is inclined to roam by having him or her neutered. Unneutered cats often travel long distances in search of a mate.
• Follow SNARL on facebook so that you can be aware of any incidents in your area.
• If you find any mutilated bodies or body parts, please contact SNARL, the charity currently investigating the deaths, on 07961 030064 or 0795783090 and also report to the police on 101.
• If you find an injured animal still alive, please take him or her to your closest vet first, then make a report.
• If you have any information on who may be committing these offences, please contact the Operation Takahe team on 020 8649 0216, the Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
• Please also take note of any suspicious behaviour, for example if you see someone approaching animals, looking in people’s gardens or under vehicles. Safely record number plates and a description of the person involved.