Mark McCanon had grown accustomed to letting 13-year-old Sugar outside around 3 a.m. each day, when the white Manx cat would walk back and forth on the keys of the family piano. The two would generally meet again around 8 a.m.
But McCanon's world came crashing down Monday morning when he found Sugar mutilated in his backyard.
"I went to get the paper this morning and he wasn't waiting at the front door," McCanon said tearfully.
McCanon said he found Sugar's body laid out, cut open with a knife and gutted; its hind legs and tail were lying nearby.
"It's hard to believe that somebody is this vulgar to do this to an animal," McCanon said.
While McCanon said he has had complaints from a neighbor about the five beehives he maintains in his backyard, he doesn't know of anyone that has problems with cats in the neighborhood.
Lawrence police said the incident is among several reports they've been investigating of possible animal cruelty during the past week in the 3200 block of West Ninth Street.
McCanon said he knows of three neighbors who recently have found their cats mutilated and left in their yard. A cat's severed head was also found in nearby Centennial Park, said Midge Grinstead, Lawrence Humane Society executive director, who is participating in the investigation.
"I think it's somebody making a statement," Grinstead said. "It's somebody with a vendetta."
Grinstead said at least 18 animal cruelty cases have been reported in Douglas County this year, including three cats believed to have been tortured by the same person, someone shooting cats with a bow and arrow, someone beating a dog to death and throwing it in a trash can, a horse that was starved to death and a dog that was starved to death. There are typically three or four cases of this type in a year, she said.
"We've had multiple incidents this year; it's crazy," Grinstead said. "I don't know why; I don't know why."
Grinstead and McCanon said in the recent incidents involving the cats, another animal could not have been responsible because there was no blood nearby, no teeth tears and no puncture wounds. McCanon believes someone's taking the cats, mutilating them, then bringing body parts back and leaving them in the cat owner's yard.
"Somebody's out there in the middle of the night," McCanon said. "Somebody's doing it."
Anyone with information regarding animal cruelty can contact Lawrence police at 832-7509.