NEW ZEALAND – When Ashleigh Hicks’s cat Moses disappeared, she was concerned because it was unusual, but assumed he would soon return home.
However, it appears Moses is not the only pet cat to have disappeared in odd circumstances. He is vanished cat No 50 this year alone in the city of Timaru, in New Zealand’s South Island.
“A common factor I have noticed in the majority of these stories is that the cats simply disappeared for no particular reason, cats that don’t tend to wander far,” Hicks stated. “We all thought this is too much of a coincidence and suspected foul play.”
After Hicks set up a Facebook closed group called #freethefurbabies, she soon realized just how many of the animals had gone missing in similar circumstances. The group now has more than 100 members.
Members have now begun pooling information; including times and dates of the disappearances, photographs of the missing pets and witness accounts.
One member explained that last year all three of her cats disappeared in the space of three months.
Rachel Wilson, whose cat Summer went missing back in January, stated: “She never, ever used to stray. She used to sleep on the bed, she was very affectionate and attached to me. When I came home she would run to the door to greet me.
“There are heaps of gorgeous cats missing, heaps of really pretty cats. There is something weird about it. There is no sign of these cats, something has happened to them. It hurts too much to think about what could have happened.”
According to Hicks, in just the past two months alone 18 cats have gone missing from residential homes in Timaru, and many of them who are from the same area.
The Facebook group said if its concerns were not investigated by local authorities, then they would be considering staging a public protest.
Hicks has reported Moses’s disappearance to police and has spoken to an officer about her concern for the welfare of dozens of other missing Timaru cats.
“The police don’t view cats, even dogs for that matter, as stolen property. In their minds we are a group of crazy cat people who have nothing better to do with our time,” she stated.
In a statement made to the Guardian, New Zealand police claim they were aware of the Facebook page and anyone concerned for the welfare of their cat was welcome to call the police. The statement did not specify whether local police were indeed investigating the disappearances or not.
The group has also gone ahead and contacted the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), and were told that if the cats had not been fixed they had probably gone wandering for mating season.
“We are going to get to the bottom of it and get our pets back,” stated Hicks.