WITNESSES have described their horror at seeing a cat mauled, kicked and drowned in Padiham.

The ginger and white stray was allegedly attacked by three dogs off their leads by the River Calder, near Weir Close.

One witness, who says he watched the violent episode from his bedroom window, claims a man walking the dogs went back and kicked the defenceless cat after his animals had attacked it.

The RSPCA is investigating the incident, while Lancashire police said they had been informed. A picture was taken showing a man at the scene. The RSPCA say they want to speak to him to rule him out of their inquiries.

RSCPA animal welfare officer, Gail Platt, said she was called to the scene shortly after 8am yesterday (FRI).

She said: “Unfortunately the cat was dead by the time I got there. Apparently it had been kicked into the water and couldn’t get out because of its injuries.

“There is some CCTV from the nearby health centre that we’re hoping to study. Details have been passed on to the Burnley RSPCA inspector and then we’ll know the extent of the investigation.

“The dogs’ handler has left the cat there and came back later on to look at the scene. He knows what he’s done. We know it wasn’t an accident.”

The attack was also witnessed by a number of workmen at a nearby building site.

One resident, who asked not to be named, said he feared it was his cat being attacked at first.

The 28-year-old said: “I don’t think people like that should be able to get away with actions like this. It’s a disgraceful and disgusting thing to be happening near where you live.

“I just looked out the window and there were three dogs off their leads chasing this cat. One was one lurcher-type dog, and there were two smaller ones which looked like Staffordshire terriers.

“This person was just walking along behind them. When the dogs caught up with the cat they just ripped it to pieces.

“They threw it in a bush to die. It started to get back out of the shrubbery near the river, crawling, and the man just kicked it away from him, back towards the water.

“It slid in and that’s what killed it. It was absolutely vile. It was still alive after the dogs attacked it but it drowned after that. I found it astonishing.”

A fourth dog was also present, although it was not involved in the attack.

The witness said the dogs walker noticed he was being watched and shouted at onlookers before leaving the scene.

Neighbours rang the police and the RSPCA, who waded into the river to recover the male cat’s body, which is now being preserved for evidence.

The witness added: “The same bloke came back about an hour later in different clothes and just had a look around. We have complained about anti-social behaviour around here before but this is the worst.”

Ms Platt, who recovered the cat, said: “This man has been seen before with dangerous dogs off their leads in this area and I believe the health centre staff have confronted him in the past.”

A Lancashire police spokeswoman confirmed that they had received a call about the attack at 8.10am yesterday.

She added: “We had a report of a cat being attacked and information has been passed to the neighbourhood policing team. We have advised that it possibly isn’t a police matter.

“It can be difficult to prove that the animals being dangerous and out of control were encouraged by their owner.”

Anyone with information about the attack can contact the RSPCA on 01282 861634.