When New Zealander Ashleigh Hicks couldn't find her cat, Moses, last Thursday, she set up a Facebook closed group called #freethefurbabies—and quickly learned that her case appears to be far from the only one in Timaru. She says some 50 cats seem to have gone missing in similar circumstances from the area over the past year, and 100 people have already joined the group, pooling times and dates of disappearances and photos of the pets, reports the Guardian. Hicks has counted 18 missing cats in the past two months alone, many from the same part of Timaru. "There are heaps of gorgeous cats missing," says Rachel Wilson, whose cat, Summer, has been gone since January. "There is something weird about it. There is no sign of these cats, something has happened to them. It hurts too much to think about what could have happened."
And while the Facebook group says its concerns aren't being investigated by the police and that they're considering a public protest, the Timaru Herald reports that all the press and talk on social media have prompted police to at least urge cat owners to contact them if they think their pet is missing or the victim of foul play. "People should not take the matter into their own hands because it could cause an undue risk to them and others," one sergeant says. Hicks, for her part, doesn't sound convinced. "In their minds we are a group of crazy cat people who have nothing better to do with our time." (At least cat carcasses aren't being found by the dozens with their heads cut off.)