A FAMILY has been left heartbroken following the death of their two pet cats, both believed to have been poisoned.

Vets had to put down three-year-old brothers Rocky and Rambo after they were found seriously ill, close to their home in Chester-le-Street.

Owners Antony Perez and fiancee Emily Hutchinson took ailing Rocky to the Cestria Veterinary Practice last Tuesday (July 2).

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But his condition deteriorated rapidly the following day and the decision was taken to put him to sleep.

Less than an hour later, Mr Perez discovered Rambo under a hedge.

His condition was so serious that the vet put him down immediately.

Mr Perez said the cats were bought as a birthday present for his nine-year-old stepson Rowan Hutchinson when they were only 12-weeks-old.

“Rowan is completely devastated over their deaths," he said.

“They were brilliant cats with lovely characters and we will all miss them terribly.

“It is particularly upsetting that Rambo must have really suffered because he wasn’t found as quickly as Rocky, whose pain and distress was managed by the vets.

“Although the vets could not be specific about what had poisoned them the blood tests they carried out showed toxin levels so high that they went off the chart.

“I believe someone has deliberately left a substance that the cats would be attracted to, knowing it would poison them.”

Mr Perez said he understands two other cats living not far from his home, in Pelaw Square, recently died in similar circumstances.

The cats' deaths have been reported to police who have appealed for information which may help to catch the poisoner.

Anyone with information should contact PC Bob Lineham at Chester-le-Street Police Station on 101 number, or Crimestoppers on 0800-555-111.