(WBIR - Knoxville) Dozens of pet cats have disappeared from their owners homes in West Knoxville this month. Authorities have been notified and now families believe somebody might be trapping the cats and dumping them.
Nita Smothers still has two pet feeding bowls in her home. One is filled with water. The other is filled with cat food. The two bowls have been that way for several weeks since the family's two pet cats went missing.
One of the missing cats is named Mango. The family recently found the small, red tabby was dead in a wooded area.
Nita Smothers said, "She was in a plastic bag with blue ties."
Brookie Smothers, Nita's daughter, said "I loved Mango. She was so sweet. When we figured out what happened to her it was surreal."
Now, the Smothers are on the hunt to find Scrambles, their missing gray and black stripped tabby.
The Smothers aren't alone in their confusion and grief. About 10 miles from their Farragut home, a group of people living in several West Knoxville subdivisions say they are also missing their pet cats.
April Erdman of Knoxville said, "I'm out immediate area just within a few miles either way of our neighborhood there are about 30 missing cats."
Erdman is missing two pet cats, Lovey and Olivia. Erdman said Olivia has a microchip and that has led to her return two previous times when she disappeared. Erdman is hoping the microchip will once again reunite her with Olivia. Erdman said she has not had time to microchip Lovey.
Jessica Burke of West Knoxville is also missing her cat named Derek Drooley, an orange and white tabby.
Burke said, "He normally doesn't go outside longer than about 20 minutes and when he didn't come home after that period I knew something was going on and by the end of the night he still hadn't come back so I knew something was definitely wrong." Burke added, "It's horrible. I mean, I wonder about him constantly. Every day I think about him."
The rash of missing cats prompted one family to file a report with the Knox County Sheriff's Office. The familes who are now missing their pets believe someone is trapping the felines.
Bill Seaver works with rescue organization Feral Feline Friends. He said he frequents areas where cats are normally found dumped and he feeds the living cats and buries the cats that don't make it. Seaver has also written a book titled "Purring in God's Ears," stories about many of the cats Seaver has rescued. Seaver said he's noticed a recent increase in the number of domesticated cats that are dumped.
Seaver said, "There have been occasions of poisoning of cats. There's been occasions of people trapping and moving cats to different areas."
The families who are missing their pets are hoping their furry family member safely returns home.
To look at the missing cats or to find out how to contact its owner, visit www.facebook.com/findourcats.