STOUFFVILLE, Ont. - Cat owners in a community north of Toronto are being warned to keep their pets indoors after a number of severed cat heads were found, one of them near a daycare.
York Regional Police said Thursday there have been six recent incidents in Whitchurch-Stouffville where heads and, in one case, other body parts of a dismembered cat were found in public locations.
Investigators don't know what the motive behind the dismemberments could be, said Const. Andy Pattenden.
But he said it's believed the dismemberments were done intentionally, adding the heads were all placed within a one-kilometre area in residential neighbourhoods.
The first incident was reported Aug. 12 when a head and two legs were found near a daycare centre and police were called to the scene.
Five other cat heads were found during the next few weeks, with one being found near a school, and the last incident was reported on Sept. 13, when a homeowner found her cat's head in front of her residence.
In five of the six incidents, just the cat's head was found, usually on or near a curb, Pattenden said. No torsos were found and there was no sign of any blood.
Animal welfare and town officials are helping police investigate the incidents.
Police don't believe the cats were killed by a predatory animal and they are concerned because the incidents seem to follow a pattern, said Pattenden.
"In each of the incidents it appears at this time that it was intentional dismemberment, and by that we mean that there was no blood at the incident, it was just the head itself," he said.
Residents of the area are being urged to keep pets indoors or under supervision and to "keep your eyes open" for anything suspicious.
"We're also asking homeowners and owners of pets to keep your pets indoors while this investigation is ongoing," Pattenden said.
Residents whose pets have gone missing over the past month or two are urged to call animal control and Pattenden said anyone who sees anything suspicious should contact police or Crime Stoppers immediately.
Brad Dewar of the Ontario SPCA said the animal welfare group is very concerned about the gruesome incidents and he echoed Pattenden's warning.
"Please keep your animals indoors. If they are outside please keep them within sight. Always know where your animals are," said Dewar.