Detectives investigating the so-called Croydon Cat Killer believe they have found the culprit – a fox.
Scotland Yard said its three-year investigation, which saw dozens of cats examined, has concluded that a human is unlikely to have been responsible for the cat killings.
Instead, a fox or foxes are believed to be behind the mutilations in south London.
The Metropolitan Police said on Twitter: “We note some media reports state our investigation showed cats in Croydon and elsewhere were killed by foxes.
“In fact, the cats were killed due to major blunt force trauma consistent with vehicle collisions.
“Scavenging foxes then mutilated body parts – especially heads and tails.”
‘A large number of similar reports of mutilated cats’
Police said forensic tests and post-mortem examinations were carried out on several carcasses and pointed to foxes’ involvement.
On Thursday, police in Croydon set out the investigation’s final conclusion that there is no evidence of human involvement.
All the cases of cat mutilation will be recorded as “no crime”, a Metropolitan Police spokesman said.
Frontline policing commander Amanda Pearson said: "The decision was made to allocate a large number of similar reports of mutilated cats to the officers who were investigating the initial spate of such allegations.
"While this increased the workload of those officers, it significantly reduced the resources that would have been required for different officers in different units to record and assess each allegation separately.
"It is this collating of reports that enabled officers to work with experts and reach the conclusion that no further police investigations are required into any of the allegations relating to mutilated cats."
Footage showed foxes carrying bodies of cats
Police have said in the three cases where CCTV was obtained, footage showed foxes carrying bodies or body-parts of cats.
In June last year, a cat’s head was found in a school playground in Catford, south-east London. CCTV showed a fox carrying the cat’s head into the playground.
In the following month, a woman found the body of cat without a head or tail next to her house. When she checked CCTV she saw a fox dropping the cat’s body where it was later found.
The Metropolitan Police said they were unable to say how much was spent on the investigation but a freedom of Information request by Croydon Advertiser found that within eight months of starting the investigation in November 2015, the Police had spent 1,020 hours on investigating the cat killer.