A family cat was set on fire and suffered serious burns, police said.
Tiger, an 18-month-old long-haired tabby, was discovered by his Hillsborough owners after they returned home on Wednesday afternoon.
PSNI Chief Inspector Derek McCamley said: “This is utterly disgusting. Someone has taken it upon themselves to set a family pet on fire.”
Tiger has been treated at a veterinary clinic for burns.
Mr McCamley said his owner was understandably shocked and very upset.
“We are a nation of animal lovers. We lavish love and affection on our pets like they are members of our family. This incident is shocking and it will upset pet owners far and wide.”
It is hard to understand why someone would do this to a defenceless vulnerable family pet but we need to know who did this.
He continued: “It is hard to understand why someone would do this to a defenceless vulnerable family pet but we need to know who did this.
“We need to speak to anyone who was in the area of Kernaghan Park, Hillsborough, before 5pm on Wednesday March 9 when the cat was found. We want to know about suspicious activity.”
Cats Protection’s advocacy manager Jacqui Cuff said: “The attack on Tiger is absolutely horrific and it is very distressing to hear of such an appalling act of cruelty being inflicted on a defenceless animal.”
She urged politicians to ensure better enforcement of animal welfare laws.
“Although our remit focuses on rehoming and education, we regularly see the horrific consequences where cats have been mistreated and we support maximum sentences being imposed in cases where there is clear evidence of guilt in animal cruelty cases.
“Better enforcement of current laws will act as a deterrent and help to prevent attacks such as the one that was inflicted on Tiger.”