Butchered in cold blood, a community is in uproar after a pet kitten, the “mascot” of the local school, was kicked to death yards from his home.
Beloved one-year-old Derek was found in a pool of his own blood, in what Scarborough Police have branded an “utterly barbaric” act of violence.
His injuries inflicted during the savage attack were so severe, his heartbroken owners were forced to put him down.
And his 18-year-old owner, James, said: “There isn’t a word I know that describes how I’m feeling.”
The full details of the attack are still emerging. What is known is that the cat was found under a neighbours car in Braeburn, Eastfield, in the early hours of Wednesday.
He was then handed over to James’ mum Kia Nicholson, who rushed him to the vets at Pets at Home, in Seamer Road.
However, with swelling to the brain and severe internal bleeding, the decision was made to put the animal out of its misery.
Within hours, news of the sickening attack had spread over the internet, after a picture of the bloodied cat was posted on Facebook, attracting dozens of comments.
The posters were united in their condemnation of the culprits, with one woman saying she hoped those responsible “rot” for their deeds.
Now a cash reward of £60 has been put up to help find the assailants, a pot that includes a donation from a Scottish woman left shocked by the brutality in the photo.
And Kia says she’s been “brought to tears” by the response of the Eastfield community, which she feels shows just how popular the kitten was, especially with children at nearby Braeburn Infants and Nursery School.
“Everybody knew who he was, and everybody loved him,’ said the disabled 40-year-old.
“All the children at school knew him, as he would go and watch them play on the field - he was their mascot.
“I’ve already had one mum tell me how devastated she’s going to be having to tell her son that he won’t see Derek ever again.”
Another neighbour, who fed the cat every morning, had the news broken to him after putting down Derek’s daily treats.
And Kia added: “In all my life, I could never understand how anybody could ever bring themselves to do anything this cruel to anybody, nevermind a little cat.
“They are mindless, selfish idiots who have no thought for anybody except for themselves.
“I just want to ask whoever has done this, what exactly have you got out of it?”
And in a further sickening twist, police are also currently looking into the possibility that the tiny cat was not only beaten - but was also shot.
As they continue local enquiries, Scarborough Police are urging anybody with any information about what they called a “sickening act of cruelty” to come forward.
A spokesperson added: “It is beyond belief that anyone could take any form a pleasure from inflicting such pain and suffering on an innocent and defenceless creature.
“Those responsible should be ashamed of themselves.
“If you know who killed this cat, you should contact the police immediately.
“They need to understand how absolutely unacceptable this nauseating crime is.”
Anybody with any information about the attack, please contact Scarborough Police on 101.