THE NUMBER of cat thefts reported in the Thames Valley soared by 80 per cent in the past three years.

New analysis by Direct Line Pet Insurance reveals 261 cats were reported as stolen to UK police forces in 2016.

According to the data, the number of cats reported stolen nationwide jumped by 40 per cent since 2014 (186).

Thames Valley Police recieved 18 reports of stolen cats in 2016 - the fifth highest in the country - compared to 10 in 2014: a rise of 80 per cent.

However the force, which covers Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, also managed to recover 83 per cent of stolen cats reported to it last year, compared to a figure of just eight per cent for Metropolitan Police and 0 for West Yorkshire Police.

Direct Line’s top tips for retrieving a lost or stolen cat:

  • Check your local area thoroughly as cats can get stuck up trees, locked in sheds and garages
  • Report the loss to your local authority animal warden
  • Make your cat ‘too hot to handle’ by spreading the word on social media and putting posters up as quickly as possible. You should take regular photos of your cat so the posters will be as current as possible
  • Make sure your cat has a tag with your phone number on and any other important information, for example if it has an illness or has been neutered as these are things which will deter thieves
  • Keep your details up to date on the microchip database so if your cat is stolen and later found, a vet or animal warden can get in touch with you
  • Hand out your contact details and photos of your cat to those in the local area, postmen, local dog walkers, neighbours and any other groups likely to be out and about locally on a regular basis