According to law enforcement and animal control officers, the rumors of a serial cat killer at large in Sacramento are unfounded at present.

Posts on social media and texts between friends describe gruesome, deliberate killings of cats in Sacramento area communities: Carmichael, Orangevale, Gold River, Fair Oaks, and most recently Midtown.

Cats are described as being surgically dissected, cut in half and left to be found or even shot to death. A post on Nextdoor described a cat found in Midtown strangled to death, with a noose around its neck.

The posts claim the incidents have been reported to police.

“You guys have a serial killer in the making!” a Reddit user called ‘Kinkymexican’ posted on a thread about the alleged cat slayings.

However, both city and county authorities say they have found no evidence of a person killing and mutilating cats in the manner described.

Sacramento Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to two reports of dead cats, one in Gold River and one in Fair Oaks, but both appeared to have been killed by animals – possibly a dog or coyote, said Sgt. Shaun Hampton, a Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman.

Gina Knepp, the manager of Sacramento’s First Street animal shelter, said she has “had no reports even closely resembling what is being reported on Reddit.”

Coyote attacks can look like something more ominous.

A spate of coyote attacks of animals in Canada several years ago had neighbors on edge, but a necropsy concluded the animals had been killed by animal teeth, not a knife, according to a CBC report.

It’s a common mistake, said Colleen St. Clair, a university professor and founder of Edmonton’s Urban Coyote Project.

“They leap first to the possibility of (a) human as some kind of cult sacrifice or just sadistic behavior, or even aliens and UFOs have been suggested for some of these kinds of attacks on animals or livestock previously,” St. Clair said in the CBC article.

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Coyotes are normally shy and reclusive, but can be glimpsed occasionally trotting along the hike and bike paths on the American River Parkway. Photo by Guy Galante, courtesy of Effie Yeaw Nature Center

The best way to keep cats safe from coyotes, being hit by cars or other outdoor dangers is to keep them inside.