A pet owner has been left "devastated" after finding his missing cat dead inside a bin.

Eighteen-month-old Sky had been missing for three days when her owner Mark James found her dumped in a wheelie bin a few minutes' walk from his house in Hedge End.

The 31-year-old and his brother, Kieran, 26, had adopted the moggy and her brother Otto when they were both kittens.

Mark said losing her "is a like losing a best friend".

Daily Echo: Mark James found his cat dead inside a wheelie binMark James found his cat dead inside a wheelie bin (Image: Newsquest)

While Sky would often roam around, she would always come home and was recognised by Mark's neighbours on Havendale.

After noticing she wasn’t back by 11pm on Friday, Mark started to worry.

By the evening of the following day, Sky hadn’t come home and Mark went out to look for her.

“For her not to come in the morning and say hi as she would always do, it was very strange,” he said.

On Sunday, Mark shared a picture of his cat on social media hoping for someone to recognise her.

He said by Sunday he had “started to fear the worse”.

On Monday evening, the two brothers went for a walk to look for her again.

Daily Echo: Mark James and his cat SkyMark James and his cat Sky (Image: Provided)

Sky had an AirTag attached to her collar which enabled Mark to track her.

He said: “Initially the tag would only show me her location was in the area but didn’t give me the accurate place.

“When I went around it must have connected to it and it showed me where she was.”

His glimmer of hope was quickly replaced by shock when he found his beloved cat lifeless in a neighbour’s bin.

Daily Echo: Otto on the left and Sky on the rightOtto on the left and Sky on the right (Image: Mark James)

He said: “The neighbour was just confused and apologetic. I was devastated, we had her from six months old, and she was just a year and a half. It is like losing a best friend.

“We brought her home and put her in a box. Her brother knew something was up and when I brought him in to see her, he smelled her and started crying.”

Mark said he believes his cat was killed.

He said: “If she had been hit by a car, someone would have either left her there or rung the number in her collar. To hide her in a bin was an act of spite.”

The incident was reported to the police.

A spokesperson said: "We were called at 7.06pm on Monday 27 November to a report that a deceased cat had been found on Havendale in Hedge End.

"Our enquiries to establish the exact circumstances surrounding the incident are ongoing.

"Anyone with information is asked to contact 101, quoting INC-20231127-1784."