VANCOUVER - As the bodies of mutilated cats continue to turn up in a Vancouver suburb, the SPCA is waiting on the results of a forensic necropsy aimed at figuring out how the felines died.

Spokeswoman Lori Chortyk said Friday that authorities sent a body for a forensic investigation about a month ago after the number of killings increased.

Twenty-four cat bodies have been discovered in the past year. The last two were found on Wednesday, and one of them was outside an elementary school.

A total of nine mutilated cats have turned up in the last two weeks.

"When they were happening last year, they weren’t in these kinds of numbers," Chortyk said. "Normally, you’re not sure if it’s an animal...sometimes a coyote bite can look similar.

"But by this spring, we thought there’s something suspicious here."

The SPCA is considering bringing in bloodhounds to track any scents left at various locations around Maple Ridge.

Chortyk said the SPCA is now certain the majority of the cats have been sliced in half by a knife or saw and deliberately placed where the owners would find them.

"One was placed under a missing cat poster, one was found in a trash bag put on the owner’s porch," she said.

The necropsy, performed at a provincial government lab, should determine what exactly killed the cats, including whether they died before being cut in half.

The results are expected within days.

Heightened media attention over the past week has resulted in more public tips to the SPCA, and investigators are following up on them.

Chortyk said that although the SPCA takes the lead on animal abuse investigations, the agency will also call on the RCMP if any help is needed.

"If we had some more information that we didn’t have the resources for, we would bring them in," Chortyk said. "I know two days ago when there was some body parts found at the elementary school, it was RCMP officers who looked through the woods."

The SPCA has only 25 officers for the entire province, and Chortyk said they are also dealing with many other cases.