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More cat halves found

Oak Harbor residents discovered three more dead cats this week that had been cut or gnawed in half, bringing the total number of kitty carcasses reported in the last six weeks to at least seven.

Police and the city’s animal control officer continue to maintain that predatory animals, most likely coyotes, are responsible for the killing or mutilations of the house cats. Oak Harbor Police Capt. Rick Wallace said “there’s no indication” that kids or even UFOs killed the pets, as some residents have claimed.

“Obviously, we can’t prove what kind of animal it was,” he said, “but we strongly feel it’s a coyote.”

Whatever is preying on cats, Wallace cautions people to keep their cats indoors — or they might become the next victims.

On July 5, a SW Fairhaven Drive resident reported finding half a cat in the backyard. Friday morning, residents found the front halves of two different cats. One was near Bayshore Drive and the other was on SW Sixth Avenue. The caller said “there is a cat ripped in two in the field,” according to the 911 report.

Also on Friday, a resident reported seeing a coyote running down SE Pasek Street at 11:19 a.m.

As in several previous cases, Animal Control Officer Terry Sampson and a local veterinarian looked at the dead cats and concluded that an animal did the killing and ate half the body.

Wallace also saw photos taken at the scene of one of the halved cats. He said it was clear to him that a larger animal ripped and chewed the body.

Nevertheless, Wallace said he can’t explain why there’s been a sudden increase in the number of cats killed in the city or why four of the cats were found cut in half. He admits he’s surprised that coyotes are so proficient at catching and killing kitties.

Island County Animal Control Officer Carol Barnes said she still hasn’t received any reports of dead cats outside the city limits.

On the other hand, several residents are convinced that a person or persons have been killing the cats. One Oak Harbor man even suggested that aliens from another planet could be slaying cats. He said he didn’t want his name in the newspaper because people tend to think people who believe in UFOs are “oddballs.”

Actually, UFO enthusiasts have been writing about the link between killed cats — especially half cats — and UFOs for many years. Weirdly, the Web site the man suggested — ufobc.ca/supernatural/animalmutilations — has many similarities to the Oak Harbor cases.

Resident Betty Gable has a more down-to-earth theory. She looked at the neatly halved cat on Bayshore Drive and is also convinced that a person must be involved. She is a member of Whidbey Animal Improvement Foundation, which runs animal shelters in Island County and Oak Harbor.

“I wish we could get this thing solved,” she said. “This is just sick.”

Likewise, Diane Fedele, an Oak Harbor resident, found the body of her cat, Rosey, next to Banner Bank on Bayshore Drive ten days ago. It was nearly the same place that Gable found the more-recently killed cat.

“It was precisely half a cat with the tail set to one side,” she said. “There was no sign of a struggle and no fur anywhere.”

She reported the incident to police and animal control. They insisted that a coyote was responsible, she said, but she disagreed. Beyond evidence at the scene, she said it’s just too odd for so many cats to be killed and mutilated.

“Animal control and police are trying to sweep it under the cover,” she said. She added that her neighbor is also missing a cat.

“I don’t think it’s an animal,” she said, “and I think people who care about their cats need to be aware.”

You can reach Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or 675-6611.

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