Italy's black cats disappear in record numbers as Satanic rituals increase

Rome, Italy - Dozens of black cats are vanishing across Italy every day to be used in Satanic rituals, an animal welfare group claimed yesterday.

Strays as well as pets are disappearing in increasing numbers from the streets of Milan, Rome, Florence and Venice.

The Italian Association for the Defence of Animals and the Environment estimates 60,000 were killed last year, to ward off bad luck, to be sold to cosmetics laboratories - where black fur gives the best results - and for use in Satanic rites.

Association president Lorezno Croce said: 'It is a phenomenon that is taking place all over Italy and growing all the time. In the last few days, 120 black cats have vanished in Milan.

'While in Venice, 63 have gone and in Florence 20 disappeared in a week and a similar number have gone missing in Rome. We have strong suspicions that these cats are being used in Satanic rituals. We want to halt this massacre, educate people and restore dignity to black cats.'

The group has set up 200 information points in towns and cities around Italy, where passers-by will be given literature on black cats, asked to sign a petition and urged to adopt one.