Glam model hires detective to find cat feared sacrificed in satanic ritual

A devastated model whose cat went missing has hired a pet detective in a bid to find her beloved companion.

Fashion photographer Nima Benati, who now spends as much of her time in front of the camera as she does behind it, was left heartbroken after her white Persian cat, Bartolo, became one of 30 felines to disappear from Italy's Apennine Mountains in the last month.

Benati has now brought on Said Beid in a bid to locate the five-year-old pet, who was described as "like a son" to her.

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Beid said any number of tragic fates may have befallen Bartolo, stating: "Some are stolen by cat thieves who breed them for profit; others are eaten by wild animals after they venture outdoors as they search for their owners and get lost."

But one animal rights group reckons the cat may have met a more unconventional fate, possibly being sacrificed by a satanic cult.

The Italian Association for the Protection of Animals and the Environment, which has previously reported on satanic sects sacrificing black cats for Halloween, says no cat corpses have been found near to where Bartolo vanished on August 9.

The organisation thinks this could suggest the missing cats are being ritually slaughtered.

"The issue is urgent and alarming, and cat owners are beginning to be afraid," it said.

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Bartolo was reported missing after being left with Benati's family while she holidayed in Costa Rica.

Nima's sister Shasa told The Times Bartolo had been left with the same family members before and there had never been any issues, with the relatives giving him "free reign in the mountains".

She added he would often disappear for several days at a time and come back "drenched after a storm with a mouse in his mouth".

But this time Bartolo never came back, and although there have been hundreds of reported sightings of the famous feline, he hasn't been found.

Benati also never got her much-loved pet microchipped, making him harder to find.

Shasa said of the cat: "He sleeps with her on her pillow and on the sofa.

"He's her shadow."

Local police are understood to be investigating the swathe of disappearances.

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