A FAMILY whose cat was run over claim binmen seized and incinerated its body without their permission.

Sarah Brown, her husband Tony and their six-year-old daughter said they were heartbroken after their pet was allegedly cremated with other roadkill by Biffa.

They desperately searched for missing Coco after a cat matching his description was found dead near their house in North Abingdon – then mysteriously vanished.

After a week of looking and calling Biffa in case the cat had been collected, Mrs Brown said the contractor eventually admitted Coco had been taken to the Culham depot for incineration.

Mrs Brown said: “We didn’t get a chance to bury him because of their incompetence.

“We were left without closure and we have no chance of getting him back.

“It’s heartbreaking. They were very matter of fact and blasé about it.”

Vale of White Horse District Council, which contracts Biffa for waste collection, said it could not confirm what happened until it had investigated the allegations.

Mrs Brown claimed Biffa did not attempt to trace Coco’s owners before destroying his body, despite him being microchipped.

She said: “Cats should be treated like dogs – there should be a law that their microchip has to be scanned.”

A national petition calling for compulsory scanning of dead cats' microchips has gained more than 30,000 signatures, and states: "Cats are a part of a family and deserve to be returned home, not thrown into landfill."

Responding to the petition in October, the Government said it encouraged local authorities to scan microchips.

Mrs Brown said although some people will say two-year-old Coco was just a cat, he had been with them since he was a kitten and was ‘irreplaceable’.

The previous week had been her own father’s funeral, and she said Coco’s death had 'added to the trauma’ during a time of grief.

Coco went missing on Monday, November 19, and the next day, Mrs Brown saw a Facebook post about a dead cat matching his description.

Her husband visited the place, between Farm Road and Parsons Mead in Abingdon, but the cat had gone.

After a resident suggested binmen might have collected him, Mrs Brown contacted Biffa but was told he had not been brought in.

The family put up a roadside banner about Coco, logged details on missing pet websites and checked bins and bushes in case someone had moved her, to no avail.

About a week later, a woman said she had seen a Biffa caged van collect the cat and put it in a blue bag, just after 9am on November 20.

Mr Brown visited the Culham depot, and the manager said he would investigate.

She later called the district council directly and said staff were sympathetic, vowing to help, after which the depot manager called back with the bad news.

The district council confirmed it has received a formal complaint, but a spokesperson said it would be ‘inappropriate to respond’ while investigation is ongoing.

The council’s website states: “You can report dead animals in public areas, particularly if they are causing an obstruction on the highway or footpath.

“We usually remove dead animals within 24 hours of being reported.”