July 14, 2005 Oak Harbor, Whidbey Island, Washington – In the third week of May 2002, four domestic cats were found in the Fairhaven district of Bellingham north of Seattle, slit from the throat to the pelvis. But there was no blood on the fur or the ground. Bellingham Police Lt. Dac Jamison said, “There is methodology to what’s going on.” The speculation was that the cats were some how removed from their home or neighborhood, taken somewhere for the cut and excision of internal organs, and returned close to their homes.
At the same time in May 2002, the number of mutilated cats in Austin, Texas, had climbed to 25. The Austin Police Department took over the investigation and said only the cats were cut in a “meticulous and precise way. No blood.” Other unusual cat deaths also surfaced in San Diego.
Then between June and November 2002, according to the Aurora Animal Control Office, the Denver Dumb Friends League, and local residents, ten cats and other small animals such as rabbits and squirrels were found strangely cut up without blood or signs of struggle. (9 cats, 2 squirrels and 1 rabbit in Aurora; 1 cat and 1 rabbit in Denver). The region affected was where southwest Aurora and southeastern Denver came together between the University of Denver and the Aurora Medical Center.
One investigator who wished to remain anonymous told me, “Very precise cuts. Some are just cut in half, like with a band saw or very sharp knife or something like that. Just cut in half and either the front half or the back half is left to be found. Others have only flesh removed from the abdomen area, or a few organs removed, or all organs removed. A few have had just the spine removed in a very precise way. Usually there is no blood. There have been at least two other cycles of cat mutilations here since 1990.”
1993 Vancouver, B. C. Half Cat
Excisions Cut with High Heat
In Vancouver, back in May 1992, there was a wave of cat mutilations as well as in California and Texas. Typical was a purebred Russian blue cat that was put out in the evening and never came back. The back half of the cat was found three blocks from its owner’s home without a trace of blood. It was the fourth cat found cut in half in a two week period. Always the cats were cut in half and one half missing usually the back half. I talked with Vic Warren, then Supervisor of Animal Control for the Vancouver City Pound who had seven half cat cases to solve. He told me, “They’re clearly being butchered by someone it’s a real surgical job.”
In March 1993, hematologist and pathologist, Dr. John Altshuler in Denver, received one of the Vancouver half-cats for examination and confirmed that the entire excision had been cut with high heat.
Similar waves of cat, and half cat, mutilations have been reported throughout the world since at least the 1970s. The following are some of the locations where small animal mutilations have occurred – some with cyclic incidents every few years: London, England; Toronto and Vancouver, Canada; Seattle, Bothel and Bellingham, Washington; Falls Church, Virginia; Pensacola, Florida; Lee, New York; Los Alamos, New Mexico; Tucson, Arizona; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Ft. Worth, Austin and Plano, Texas; Tustin, San Jose and San Diego, California; Denver and Aurora, Colorado; and Salt Lake City, Utah.
July 2005, Half Cats in Oak Harbor and Seattle Region
Now it’s happening again in Seattle and the surrounding region, including Oak Harbor. Oak Harbor is a town of about 19,000 people, of which 6,000 work for the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station and Ault Field. Whidbey Island is the longest island in the continental United States and is surrounded by the waters of Puget Sound. By car, Oak Harbor is about 1.5 hours north of Seattle and two hours south of Vancouver, British Columbia.
I talked with Oak Harbor’s Animal Control Officer, Terry Sampson, this week who confirmed his office has seven half cat cases. There were three more this past weekend in Anacortes and several more in Burlington, Mt. Vernon and Seattle. He said that he and the other city animal control officers are convinced the culprits are coyotes.
But when I talked to one Oak Harbor resident who found only the upper half of her cat, she rejected the coyote explanation. She did not want to comment for radio, but she told me where her half cat laid in the grass was “quite tidy.” She compared the cat’s upper half to a “glove puppet,” meaning it resembled a child’s puppet toy that is empty inside and fits over a hand.
Another Oak Harbor resident is Betty Gable who drives buses in the city. One of the half cats belonged to her neighbor who was out of town. So Betty took responsibility to get the cat remains to Oak Harbor Animal Control for investigation. Authorities there told Betty it was coyote, that all the half cat kills were by coyotes. I asked her about how the cat was cut.
Betty Gable, Bus Driver, Oak Harbor, Washington: “At first, it looked like a straight cut. But when you actually looked at the skin, it looked like it had a tear mark type thing, or pulling. Right below the breast bone, it had been taken off right there.
It was kind of just laying on its side with its head and paws there. The skin flap that was more jagged had just laid down against the breast bone so it looked like it (cat) was just cut in half. But when we looked at it in an autopsy form, the skin flap could be lifted up and you could see there was kind of not a shear cut or anything. It had a flap stuck out and it was like the muscle had been pulled or chewed on. The breastbone was not crushed. It was just pulled right off and everything else was pulled out from inside. There wasn’t any intestines or anything. It was just chopped there at the sternum basically.
YES, DIANE FIDELE I TALKED TO SAID IT LOOKED LIKE HER CAT HAD BEEN TURNED INTO A HAND PUPPET.
Yeah, kind of, because up at that part you have the shoulders, the arms and the head. There isn’t much except muscle. The fat part of the cat is below, so that’s the fat part of me, too. That’s kind of the part they want.
And then when I came back on the lot where it was, I scoured the entire lot and I found the actual kill zone there with all the fur and stomach contents were there. There was a back leg of a little rabbit freshly killed, too. So, it was a predatory mammal that did it, not 2-legged, but the 4-legged kind. And I went to two houses beyond there and they had each lost a cat. One of the ladies had a similar thing. I did find another kill zone and she showed me that was where her cat was.
What they are doing probably a coyote is they are eating the real fleshy part from the top of the breastbone down. Then, they were probably running or playing with the top half and got scared and dropped it and ran off. So within a three house area, there were three or four cats that were missing.”
Blood On Half Cats,
According to Oak Harbor Animal Control
The Oak Harbor Animal Control Officer said that each of the half cats he had seen had blood on the excisions. Perhaps the current rash of half cats in Oak Harbor and the Seattle region are the work of real coyotes. But coyotes would not explain the hundreds of bloodless half cats found over the past decades from England to Canada throughout the United States.
The New York Times Reported About Half Cats
In fact it’s worth going back to The New York Times newspaper in its August 13, 1989, edition, to consider the report about the discovery of 67 mutilated cats in Tustin, California:
“‘Some of them (were) cut in half with what some say is almost surgical precision; others disemboweled or skinned.’ Janet Hampson of Tustin summed up the eeriness of it all: ‘There is never any blood at the scene, the animals are often dismembered with surgical precision and paws and other body parts are often left on the ground in strikingly similar arrangements. No one ever seems to hear anything, nor do dogs bark during the killing.‘ She believes the cats are captured, taken elsewhere, there blood drained and organs removed, then replaced on their owners’ lawns.”But the same question I’ve been asking as an investigative reporter since September 1979: If not coyotes, who or what is killing and mutilating large and small animals around the world and why?
For other Earthfiles reports about cat mutilations, see Earthfiles Archives:
- 09/12/2003 — More Domestic Cat Mutilations – Again in Bothell, Washington
- 07/01/2003 — 40 Small Animal Mutilations in Denver and 11 in Salt Lake City
- 11/16/2002 — More Cat and Cow Mutilations: Colorado, Utah and Missouri
- 05/31/2002 — Bloodless Cat Mutilations in Bellingham, Washington
- 10/20/2001 — Dozen Mutilated Cats Found in San Diego, California
- 09/08/2001 — 23 “Half Cat” and 2 Deer Mutilations Since March: Austin, Texas Law Enforcement
- 08/12/2001 — Unusual Cat Deaths in Navarre, Florida and Austin, Texas
- 11/18/1999 — Short Environmental Updates
- 11/07/1999 — Environmental Updates and Calf Fetus Shocks Los Brazos, New Mexico
- 11/05/1999 — Reward Offered As Cat Mutilations Continue in Toronto, Canada
- 10/10/1999 — More Cat Mutilation Reports from Ft. Worth, TX; Toronto, Canada and Tucson, AZ
- 10/03/1999 — Unusual Cat Deaths from London to San Jose, California
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