Content warning: graphic imagery and animal cruelty
At the time of the first attack, Toulouse's owners released footage of the attacker pursuing the cat in their yard, in the hope that they would catch the culprit.
In an interview, Fraser, son of Toulouse's 64-year-old owner Alex Greenwell, described the footage in detail: “I live round the corner and I got a phone call from my dad, who was in a panic. I went down there and he said someone had killed the cat.
"He showed me the CCTV, where you can see a man walk down the back lane, give the cat a stroke and look around to make sure no-one’s there. Then he picks the cat up by the tail, hits it off the floor and throws it. The cat escapes from him and runs into my dad’s yard”.
“He climbs into my dad’s yard, finds it, kicks it, throws the body over the fence, climbs back round, puts the cat into the bag and leaves. My dad went out at that point and asked him what he was doing. He just said ‘nothing’", Fraser continued.
Greenwell initially believed the man was attempting theft, but upon checking the CCTV, he saw the assault, which took place before Toulouse was thrown off the bridge.
Fraser described his father's reaction after the incident: “My dad is absolutely devastated. I’ve never seen him cry but when I went to the house that night he burst into tears straight away. He’s got a few medical conditions and has been shielding due to Covid, so the cat has literally been his best friend.”
The body of the cat, named Toulouse, remains unrecovered.
The police believe that the man was wearing a Mountain Equipment jacket and Greenwell described him as "well spoken."
A post by Fern Elizabeth, assumed to be a friend or family member of Greenwell, retweeted by @TinkerpussBCcat claims that he wore a head torch, mask, hat, backpack and beige trousers.
The Greenwells are looking for any information about the man or the location of their cat.
More recently, a Heaton resident put up a poster looking for the body of their cat, Percy that was killed between 30 January and 1 February 2021 near Corner House pub. A public Facebook post in the group "Cats of Heaton" (originally attributed to Helen Briton) reads, "One of my neighbours cat has been killed. Looks like someone has swung it by its tail and caused irreparable damage to its spine. He was the friendliest little cat too, always coming up to you for a stroke. How can people be so cruel."
Commenters have theorized that the cat may have been killed by the same man. Digging further, some believe that his description is similar to that of one who killed and mutilated cats in and around London between 2014 and 2018, although that does not eliminate the possibility of a "copycat killer," as unfortunate that phrase happens to be in this particular context.