A rash of missing cats has Montrose pet owners fearing the worst amidst rumors of hungry coyotes and a possible serial animal killer. (Warning: Gruesome details ahead.)
On Saturday, residents near the Westheimer-Dunlavy intersection received a disturbing flyer describing a neighborhood cat found "horrifically mutilated and killed." In bold letters, the pamphlet details the work of a human predator who "dismembered, gutted, disemboweled, beheaded and completely skinned" the animal.
News of the killing, which allegedly occurred Jan. 13, has sparked new fears about a recent string of cat disappearances initially linked to a coyote or a stray dog.
"I had nightmares after reading that flyer," Emily Williams, who has lived in the area for five years, tells CultureMap. "I've been keeping the blinds closed, so no one can see my cat."
"I had nightmares after reading that flyer. I've been keeping the blinds closed, so no one can see my cat."
Long known for it frisky outdoor cats, the neighborhood has witnessed an unusual decline in feline activity. Williams notes as many as half a dozen "missing cat" posters have gone up since late December.
Though concerned by the flyer, area resident Erika Lawson attributes the recent death of her cat Caesar to coyotes, not humans. Although Montrose sightings are rare, she notes that the wild animals have been blamed for pet killings in the past, including a cat in 2010.
When Lawson found Caesar's remains, they were picked clean and scattered across a neighbor's yard. The head was never located, suggesting to her (and her veterinarian) that the cat was killed by a large animal capable of crushing and eating a skull. With few big dogs in the area, she feels that a coyote is the most likely suspect
"I suspect that work along Buffalo Bayou has been disturbing food sources and coyote dens," she says. "It only makes sense that they would look for food in nearby neighborhoods."
Neither BARC and the Houston Police Department report animal abuse nor coyotes in Montrose at this time, leaving pet owners with grave concerns and few answers. Regardless of the culprit, Christopher Newport with BARC gently reminds cat owners to keep their pets indoors or on a leash, a requirement of city animal codes.
Animal Abuse On Rise
Alongside ongoing coyote issues in southwest Houston, Harris County authorities have seen a disturbing spike in animal abuse during the last two weeks.
Two men face felony charges for throwing a cat into air and shooting it along the banks of the San Jacinto River last weekend. And in early January, northeast Houston residents discovered yet another intentionally mutilated dog by a set of railroad tracks.
Fox 26 News reports a jump in animal abuse incidents across the county, from 166 documented cases in 2012 to 271 in 2013.
Anyone with information on animal abuse is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.