The RSPCA has urged members of the public to report any suspicious activity after a report that four dead cats were found in a Barnoldswick bin.
An unconfirmed report stated cats were found in the bin behind the Co-op on Sunday and it is estimated 20 cats have disappeared in the town since the spring.
Town historian Peter Thompson, who also cares for cats, said that although he knows at least a couple of those have been found or died in accidental circumstances, he fears something more sinister is at the heart of the disappearances as the majority have been in the central area of Barnoldswick.
In February, three cats died of anti-freeze poisoning in Wellhouse Square but the RSPCA could not establish whether it was a deliberate act or accidental.
Mr Thompson said: “The issue of missing cats started to develop in May this year and during June and early July were being flagged up on a daily basis.
“These are not just tatty, stray cats, these are much loved and cared for pets.
“The majority of the disappearances reported have been in that central area of town, around the Avenues and Wellhouse Road. One or two have been elsewhere.
“I think we must be looking at 20 now in the last four months definitely.
“I’ve had cats for more than 50 years. We’ve got nine here at the moment.
“One of them we took in a few weeks ago. He was living in Silentnight and staff were caring for him but management said he had to go.
“We found out he was chipped and 14 years old and had lived in Spain and France before Barnoldswick. Nobody knows how he got here.
“We rang the number and got a call back and his previous owner last saw him five years ago. Boy has he got history.
“They’re such lovely companions. The distress caused to their owners by the possibility that they have been taken for illicit purposes is the stuff of nightmares, a situation that needs to be addressed.”
Insp. Natalie Taylor, from the RSPCA, said: “This is an alarming number of cats to have disappeared, especially from such concentrated area of a small town like Barnoldswick.
“This is quite unusual and I would urge anybody who has information on these missing cats to contact the national control centre on 0300 1234 999 and report it, marked for the attention of Insp. 13194 Taylor, and I will investigate.”