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(Reuters) - Police and townsfolk in Waynesboro, Virginia, are trying to figure out why someone is abducting pet cats and returning them with hairless underbellies.
Since December, at least seven cats have suddenly shown up at their homes with shaved belly, groin and leg areas, Waynesboro Police Captain Kelly Walker said on Friday.
"The shaving appears to be almost surgical," Walker said.
No harm was done to the animals, but they "seemed a little skittish" after the curious incidents, he said.
The occurrences came to the attention of police when an owner asked about posting flyers to encourage the public to report suspicious activity to authorities.
"Shaving Cats!!??" says the poster in Waynesboro, a city of 21,000 about 140 miles (225 km) southwest of Washington, D.C.
"Several neighborhood cats have been ABDUCTED and had their lower abdomens and groin areas SHAVED. This is very upsetting to the cats and their owners," the poster says.
Walker said the cats were collar-wearing, well-groomed pets, not strays or feral cats, although some were outdoor cats. All of them had been either neutered and spayed before the shaving incidents, he said.
The investigation focuses on five cats - some of whom were shaved twice - from one household and two cats from another, who came home partially hairless three weeks ago.
"Probably the best solution is for whoever is doing this to just stop," Walker said.
Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis