A surge in missing cats has lead to fears the pets are being used as bait for dog fights.

Residents across Sussex have reported increasing cases of domestic moggies going missing, fuelling speculation they may be falling victim to foul play.

Websites listing missing pets have been inundated with pleas to find lost animals, particularly in Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings.

Concerned animal lovers have said they fear pets may be being used to train dogs to fight.

Sue Baumgardt, of Brighton Animal Action said: “There are reports that when a large number of cats go missing from a certain area at the same time it may be people using them to train dogs for dog fights.

“It is a truly horrible thing to think about.

“People who fight dogs are known to use cats to train them.”