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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The front half of a gray tabby cat was discovered by golfers at a suburban country club, the 11th cat mutilation in the Salt Lake area but the first outside the city's northwest Avenues area.
The cat was found about 9 a.m. by two women playing at the Willow Creek Country Club. It was off the tee box on the third hole.
The organs had been removed, but little blood was found at the site, said Temma Martin, spokeswoman for county Animal Services. The cat appeared to have been cut with a sharp object. The back half of the animal was not found.
Matt Isbell, assistant grounds superintendent, said, "I was just confused as to why anyone would want to do that to a cat."
Animal Services investigators are looking into the possibility that this mutilation could be connected to those that have occurred in the Avenues since May 2002.
Martin said, "If part of this is to terrorize people, it makes sense to move around."
Cat owners outside the Avenues have felt relatively secure in letting their pets outside, she said.
Ten dead and mutilated cats and one dog have been found in the Avenues area, the most recent on June 21.
Animal Services initially thought it had been killed by an animal because it had puncture wounds and there was blood at the scene. But a veterinarian said the cat had been killed and mutilated by a person, Martin said, and a special light used by police to make bodily fluids fluorescent turned up no saliva on the cat's body.
"I can't imagine an animal could kill anything without getting saliva on it," she said.
Of the 11 cats, five owners have been found, she said.
Martin dismissed the idea of a copycat pet killer, saying not enough information has been released for a copycat to know what to do to the cats.
Denver and its suburbs have had a similar string of cat mutilations. Animal control officers there have found at least 41 cats in the past year, including four more last weekend.
Denver authorities have been in touch with the Salt Lake County Animal Services office. "They're exchanging information, looking for similarities," Martin said.
No clear connection has been found, but authorities in both cities worried that those behind such abuse could go on to attack people.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)