When the cats first started going missing no one, apart from their owners, took any notice.
Then worried pet lovers discovered a disturbing pattern. Up to six cats would go missing in one area over a few days.
Then the same thing would happen a couple of weeks later.
In eight months, 211 cats have gone missing from Ipswich, Suffolk, and no one can explain why, reports the Sunday People.
Frustrated by the police’s response, cat owners Louise Catchpole and Deni Parkes have turned pet detectives.
They have joined forces with other cat lovers to set up a website and a Facebook page, which has 2,664 members, to try to track down those responsible.
Deni said: “I realise cats go missing as they get run over but not in these numbers.
“I know of one person who had three cats vanish overnight.
“That isn’t normal – which is why we set up the site and database to help track the missing cats.”
Louise’s two kittens Nigella and Rupert were snatched but found days later.
The tortured pets had fur ripped off and were burnt.
The cat owner said: “It’s extremely worrying. I appreciate that cats go missing.
“It’s in their nature to roam, but too many have gone.
“The bodies of the cats are not turning up as you would expect if they had been in an accident and run over by a car.
“These are neutered, friendly animals.
“They are the type that wouldn’t run away if they were petted, so they are easy prey for the evil so-and-sos taking them.”
Louise has been forced to keep her pets indoors since they were snatched last year.
She added: “They have gone in clusters. We will hear that a few have disappeared over a few nights, then it will stop.
“It all seems very, very odd. This many cats don’t go missing. There are no bodies in bins or on the roads.
“They have just gone.
Hunt: Louise Catchpole has set out to find the missing cats
“The police have been sympathetic, but they are pretty powerless unless they catch someone red-handed.
“But something needs to be done.
“My cats had been tortured. We are supposed to be a nation of animal lovers.
“Surely someone must know what is going on who will tell us or the police, so we can stop it.
“People are keeping their cats on lockdown and cats don’t like that.”
Toni Clarke is convinced that her missing Siamese cat Clooney has also been snatched.
She said: “The past 17 months have been a daily search.
“We’ve even had tracker dogs out to find him and they’ve come up with nothing. All they came up with is a dead fox.
“And the fact is Clooney wouldn’t just run away.
“He’s more like a dog in that respect and stays close to home. Sadly, I don’t think the police take it at all seriously.”
The group last month gave Suffolk officers footage of a man and woman enticing cats into a car.
Deni said: “The police were handed evidence of a woman who spent six minutes enticing two cats with treats.
“Once they came near she grabbed them one by one and put them in a waiting car being driven by a second person.
“Only for the fact this had been seen were the cats released.
“We are still waiting for feedback from the police about what they plan to do.
“It is frustrating when we forward information, are working hard to establish what is happening, to be met with silence.
“We as a team understand completely cats go missing, or are injured.
“But the scale of it, with some families missing all their cats, has not been dealt with.
“Some might be glad, because they don’t like cats, but if a crime is being committed in your community against cats, ask yourself what other crime are these people capable of?
“I know if 200 dogs were missing there would be an uproar, because by law they are better protected than cats, and cats are classified as ‘roamers’.
“Actually, domesticated cats do not roam, but have a set perimeter they will follow every day.
“Unless they meet with an accident, are poisoned or harmed they will return home.”
Sgt Mark Thomas of Ipswich police said: “We understand the distress and upset caused when a cat is missing or lost, but officers have had no evidence to suggest that cats are being stolen or ill-treated on a large scale.”
No one knows why the cats are vanishing but Louise said: “You can make a dog very angry using a cat as bait.
“Once they have a taste for killing they move on to a real fight. It enhances the odds for illegal bookmakers and there is lots of money in it.”
Even more worrying is the fact that cruelty to animals can be an early sign of a psychopath in the making.
Whatever the reason, the case is not unique.
Last month, 30 cats were reported missing from the small town of Irthlingborough, in Northants.
Louise said: “It’s frightening. It’s as if these people are roaming around hunting the cats.
“It makes my blood run cold.
“If these people are prepared to wander on to my property, take my cats and torture them what else are they prepared to do?