VICIOUS dogs are savaging cats in a soaring number of deliberate barbaric incidents across Keighley, we can reveal.

Lurcher-type mutts are being set on defenceless moggies by teenage gangs.

Now anxious cat owners are taking to social media to raise awareness and warn others to be on their guard.

And a Cross Roads-based cat charity, which says it is aware of the sickening attacks, has issued its own plea.

Several felines are believed to have died and others sustained horrific injuries in the incidents, which have been particularly prevalent on the Braithwaite, Guard House and Bracken Bank estates.

A Braithwaite dad, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals, said the mutilated remains of one of his two cats were found at a local play area just days after it had gone missing.

"It was a sickening sight," said the 33-year-old sales manager.

"From her wounds it was quite clear that she had been attacked by dogs. She had horrible injuries, including two broken back legs.

"It is awful to know there are people out there who will do this kind of thing, and we're talking about teenage kids."

He said that the night their pet disappeared, his partner had heard someone outside the house shout "get it" and then the cry of a cat.

"I posted the disappearance on Facebook and a few days later someone who lives nearby called round to say they'd found a cat which they believed was mine," he added.

"I was absolutely distraught when I saw her.

"These gangs are going out at night hunting with dogs. It begs the question what these youngsters' parents are doing."

Another cat owner said that without firm proof of those responsible, it was difficult for the authorities to take action.

"There have been a number of attacks which have left cats with horrendous injuries," she said.

"Names have been suggested for those suspected of involvement, but a lot of people are worried about coming forward for fear of revenge attacks.

"One lady has suffered abuse and had things thrown at her house as she dared to say things to these youths.

"We've been using Facebook to make people more aware and to keep an eye out for these young men and their acts of cruelty."

Sara Atkinson, founder of Yorkshire Cat Rescue at Cross Roads, condemns the attacks.

And she advises owners to try to keep their cats indoors at night when incidents are more likely to take place.

"The safest time to let your cat out is during the middle hours of the day or early morning rather than at night," she said.

"We have heard about these attacks but fortunately haven't seen firsthand the consequences.

"If anyone knows anything about such an incident we would encourage them to report it, with photographs if possible."

She said she'd heard reports nationally of people obtaining cats purely for 'bait'.

"Our advice if you need to rehome your cat is not to give it away for free unless the person is a family member or someone who know," she added.

"If it is a stranger, ask for payment. This will help deter people who may want a cat for unscrupulous purposes."

The RSPCA said it had not been made aware of the incidents.

But its chief inspector, Beth Clements, added: "If anyone has evidence that this is happening or any specific concerns, we would like to hear from them so we can look into it further."

She can be contacted on 0300 1238018.