Hunt for antifreeze poisoner after seven cats killed in neighbourhood
At least five other cats have died in the same area of Stenhousemuir over the last ten months showing symptoms consistent with poisoning.
Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said yesterday: "These deaths were reported to us recently because there was a concern locally that the cats may have been poisoned deliberately.
"Following our investigation, we can confirm that two cats in the South View area of the town have died as a result of anti-freeze poisoning, one in August last year and another in January this year.
"We believe that a further five cats in nearby areas may have been poisoned since March last year as they displayed symptoms consistent with poisoning before dying.
"Local residents have also told us that other cats have died in similar circumstances in previous years.
"Given the number of cats involved and the fact that these deaths have occurred over such a long period of time, it is very likely that these poisonings have been deliberate, which is a real cause for concern.
"These cats will have suffered extremely painful deaths and we're keen to identify whoever is responsible.
"We would advise cat owners in the area to be vigilant and report anything suspicious."
Emma Robertson of South View has lost two cats in less than six months.
"I think it is absolutely terrible," she said. "The cats are in so much pain. My family has lost eight cats since we moved here, but we didn't know what had happened to them until our six-year-old Zafira died in August.
"I found him wandering in our garden, moving as if he was drunk with no control of his back legs and he was being sick and crying out.
"He died later that evening and tests revealed he'd been killed by antifreeze. Our oldest cat Murphy, who was seven, died on Friday, after suffering similar symptoms.
"He failed to come in on Thursday night and when we found him on Friday it was clear he was very sick. Again it's been confirmed as antifreeze.
"We still have two young cats but I feel I can't let them out of the house.
"At least three of my neighbours have lost cats, too."
Deliberately poisoning an animal is a serious offence and anyone found guilty of doing so can face stiff penalties, including a jail sentence, and a fine of up to 20,000.Killer antifreeze
REPORTS of cat poisoning are becoming ever more common - with antifreeze one of the most frequent causes of death.
In 2009 a woman from Airth in Stirlingshire was found guilty of killing her neighbour's cats by deliberately lacing tins of tuna with antifreeze.
The 57-year-old was ordered to pay 1,500 in compensation to the owners of Abyssinian cats Mr Baz and Nush - that she suspected of urinating on her strawberries.
However, vets are also keen to point out that poisonings can often be accidental.
In 2009, residents of Kennoway in Fife feared a cat murderer was on the loose after 16 cats died of poisoning within a short space of time.
However the deaths were found to have been caused by an abandoned, leaking car engine.