THE search for the UK's infamous cat killer has descended on Southampton as owners are warned to keep their beloved pets safe inside.

Dubbed the notorious Croydon Cat Killer, the UK's search for the person or people responsible for more than 450 cat mutilations has now found itself at the heart of the city.

Southampton Cats Protection reported the cat, which had its head cut off, to the police, following the discovery of the body in the Itchen area on Wednesday night.

No exact road name has been issued with the owners of the cat yet to be identified.

South Norwood Animal Rescue Liberty (SNARL) have found themselves leading the charge in finding those responsible for the killings up and down the country.

After a volunteer at the city protection charity took the cat to the vets, SNARL confirmed it matched the modus operandi of an animal killed by the Croydon Cat Killer.

Also known as the UK Animal Killer, they have also killed rabbits and other small animals, as well as cats.

Southampton Cats Protection said: "A deceased cat was found in the SO19 area. The cat was taken to Vets Now. This has been reported to the police and SNARL as sadly the injuries are consistent with the UK cat/animal killer."

Hampshire Police say that although they have been notified, they are not actively investigating it.

The animal was not chipped, which means the owner hasn't yet been told, or identified. Officers added that the vets had provided details of the incident to SNARL.

More than 450 animals have been attacked by the killer over the past two-and-a-half years.

Mutilated bodies have been found in Sheffield, Manchester, Dover and Luton.

In 2014, Boudicca Rising and partner Tony Jenkins, set up SNARL to look after sick cats.

However, after a year full of cases being reported to them, the police began looking into the animal deaths and soon after, launched a full investigation.

Boudicca said: "This is the first case in Southampton. Whoever is responsible, whether it's one person or a group, has done this all around the UK.

"We have never had a case in two places at the same time, but all of the cats have followed a similar pattern.

"It's disgusting, but unfortunately we can confirm that this case meets the characteristics of the killer.

"It is possible they will kill again in the city. All we can say to owners is to keep their pets inside. Most of the attacks happen in the dark so pets should be kept inside during the night. That's a lot easier said than done of course, and we know cats need to roam too.

"Everybody should be vigilant, and report anything suspicious. It's even possible that the killer brought the cat down with them to kill them."

Tony added: "We need the police to work with us and catch the sick person or people who are doing this to the UK's pets.

"They won't stop, and neither will we."