SHETLAND Cats Protection says it is unclear whether an unusual increase in the number of missing cats in the isles is down to the work of cruel thieves.
Speculation emanated on social media on Wednesday that people had been taking cats from Lerwick and dumping them away from home in the countryside.
The police and the SSPCA say they have not received any reports of such behaviour.
However the local Cats Protection team has been approached by members of the public concerned about allegations of feline felonies.
Staff member Carol Ritchie said there had been a definite increase in the amount of disappearing cats.
She could not confirm the cause, but urged owners to keep their pets safe.
She said one woman had come forward claiming she saw a man with a box apparently looking for her cat before walking off with his jacket over his head when spotted.
So concerning has the situation become that the organisation has created a Google map pinpointing where each missing cat came from, revealing a focus on Lerwick and Scalloway.
“There’s far too many cats missing in Lerwick and Scalloway, and they’re just never turning up again,” Ritchie said.
“It’s very strange. I don’t know what’s happening, but if we can make folk aware of what’s going on, maybe they can keep an eye out.”
In a Facebook post published on Thursday, Cats Protection warned people not to overreact to the speculation.
It added that any missing cats should be reported to them first.
“Please don’t call the police because someone stops to talk to your cat in the garden,” it said.
“Please don’t call the police because there is a man walking to the vets with his cat in a basket.
“Please don’t call the police because there is a stray cat at your door. If you have a concern, that does not suggest an immediate threat – call us. We’ll put your minds at rest.”