Cat owners in Westwood are being warned to keep their felines indoors after a series of animals were found killed in a residential area.
A sign posted in the area states "3 neighborhood cats found killed/mutilated."
"If you own an outside cat, you may want to keep them indoors," the sign states.
A cat found dead near Emerson Middle School (map) last month appeared to have been severed cleanly in half, leading residents to fear that a human had purposefully killed the animal.
Local news from across Southern California
"Since this particular attack looked to be staged by a human rather than a frenzied attack by an animal, a police report was made and the SPCA created a file," the sign reads.
Residents who spoke to NBC4 said they had not seen coyotes in the neighborhood where the cats were killed -- in the area of Selby Avenue. In Southern California, coyotes are often the culprits when multiple cats are found dead in a concentrated area.
"It’s pretty scary. It's yet another reason to keep your cats inside," said resident Karen Hartland, who is keeping her cat Gabrielle indoors. "It’s just not a safe world for them.”
Madeline Bernstein, president of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles, said it was likely the cats were killed by coyotes or other animals, but the organization wants to do a forensic examination on any future felines found killed.
"With an actual body, an examination can be done where ... you can see if there are puncture marks, slight edges," Bernstein said.
The spcaLA advises animal owners to keep all small pets indoors.
A Los Angeles Police Department spokesman could not find any reports related to the cat deaths, but a resident said a patrol car had responded when the most recent animal was found dead in mid-January.
The LAPD's Animal Cruelty Task Force could not be reached for comment.