A FAMILY has been left devastated after two of their pet cats died after being sprayed with anti-freeze in Ilkley.

Robert Middleton said the "deliberate and unprovoked" killing of cats Quill and Hattie had left his children Ava, Isla and Isaac heartbroken.

The family's third cat Rocket was also poisoned by anti-freeze but swift veterinary treatment at Ashlands Vets in Leeds Road, Ilkley, saved his life, however he will require special food for the remainder of his life and regular blood tests to ensure his kidneys are functioning correctly.

"This was a deliberate and despicable act carried out with no reason in a way that would knowingly bring excessive suffering to the animals," said Robert. "The cats were sprayed with anti freeze from nose to tail and in the course of cleaning themselves fatally ingested the substance.

"The fact all three belonged to the same household makes the matter that much more heart-breaking. "What the psychopath behind these crimes didn’t see is the emotional impact it has on the three young children who returned to their home to find the animals gone. The young children who cannot comprehend such cruelty and senselessness. Children who, to that point, had never experienced loss. To see a nine-year-old breakdown because her beloved companion and comfort has been robbed from her is an experience I would not wish on anyone."

The incident happened on April 27 near to the children's home in East Parade, Ilkley. Robert, who now lives in Skipton, was contacted by his former partner and mother of his children Lauren Doyle to say Quill was stuck in a neighbour's garden, crying in pain and only able to drag his back legs around.

They took him to the vets and as he was in so much pain they were given the choice to put him down there and then or wait it out. They chose to wait but the horror continued when Lauren returned home to find the oldest cat Hattie dead inside the house. At this time the family was notified Quill had been subject to anti freeze poisoning and from examination he hadn’t drunk it directly but had been sprayed from head to tail and through cleaning himself had ingested the toxic substance. He later had to be put to sleep. Hattie showed a similar spray pattern when she was examined. The third cat, Rocket, was taken to the vets and treated.

Robert said: "The police visited and took statements and since then Lauren and friends have visited homes on the street to raise awareness. Some initially thought it was a scam or didn’t believe such a thing could happen but others were incredibly sympathetic. It was through talking to neighbours it became apparent that this had happened on at least two separate occasions since Easter in the same area.

"There were anecdotal reports of people not liking cats in the houses behind who had thrown stones and rocks at them before. Cat food had been found in the back alley and it has been suspected by some that this was used as bait to lure them in.

"All the cats suffered and the family continue to do so, especially Ava. Ultimately I have no idea who would do this or why. I don’t believe it was personal, aimed at my family just an awful coincidence.

"I do hope someone is found. It has a lasting effect in the area with people scared to let pets out."

Anne MacGregor, Practice Manager at Ashlands Veterinary Centre in Leeds Road, Ilkley confirmed the team treated Quill, Hattie and Rocket for suspected anti-freeze poisoning.

She said: "We would like to warn people about the effects ethylene glycol, which is found in anti-freeze products, used in cars and sometimes within household cleaning products. It is highly toxic to animals, causing acute renal failure (damage to the kidneys) and if treatment is not imitated quickly can rapidly result in death. Ethylene glycol can taste sweet, making cats likely to consume products left out, either by accident or intentionally. Some products now contain a fluorescent dye which makes it easy to detect under a UV light, aiding us in diagnosis. We would ask all owners to take care when using such products and dispose of them carefully.

"If you suspect your cat has come into contact with ethylene glycol then please do not hesitate to get in contact with your vet who can offer advice."

A spokesperson for West Yorkshire Police said: “Police have received a report of cats allegedly being poisoned in Ilkley by a substance which is said to be similar to anti-freeze.

“Anyone with information which may assist is asked to contact police on 101, or by using the West Yorkshire Police website, quoting log 1311 of 27 April.

“Information can also be reported to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or online.”