An entire street's cats have vanished from Albion Park in the dead of night, with owners fearful their pets have been stolen for the gruesome practice of dog baiting or fighting.
The mystery of the missing moggies has left residents of Samuel Circuit baffled and distraught after at least five cats disappeared between last Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.
Joanne Collins said her family went out on Saturday night, returning late.
The next day, their cat Roxy was nowhere to be found.
"I thought she had just gone wandering for the night, but she always comes home. She never stays out at night," Ms Collins said.
"There's at least five cats we know of that all went missing at the same time on the same night."
Maddi Hidasi owns Muffin, Roxy's sister, who has been missing since Sunday.
Ms Hidasi said neighbours were voicing the same dread about what happened to their pets.
"My aunt said she heard of people going around on the weekend, picking them up for dog fighting. That's the rumour going around, that they've been stolen, because they all went missing on the same night," she said.
Ms Collins, too, feared the worst.
"I think they've been trapped, and used as bait," she said.
"Roxy is very selective, she will never approach someone and go home with them. All that could have happened is she was taken."
Ms Hidasi said owners had called Shellharbour Council, the RSPCA, council rangers and local vets, to no avail. A canvass of nearby homes, garages and hiding places had also yielded nothing.
A council spokesman confirmed rangers did not collect stray cats.
Ms Collins posted a plea for help to several Illawarra pet groups on Facebook, with other members reporting similar disappearances at Warilla, Tarrawanna and Balgownie.
Lake Illawarra police said they had no reports of dog fighting rings currently operating in the Illawarra.
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