A cat was yesterday found nailed to a wooden cross hung upside down on the iron grating surrounding the statue of St Joseph in Mosta in the third feline crucifixion in the area this year.

A note, sealed with tape, was found stuck to the wooden cross and the police did not open it so that forensic experts could dust it for fingerprints, sources said.

A five-pointed cross, made out of wire, was also found hanging over the ginger cat’s body. The pentagram is used as a religious symbol by Satanists, who are also known to use the inverted cross.

The police were alerted to the gruesome discovery in Main Street at 8am and Magistrate Doreen Clarke opened an inquiry.

This incident came 10 months after another cat was found nailed to a wooden cross on a door in Baskal Buhagiar Street, Mosta, on February 10 just before 7am.

A cat had also been found crucified on January 17 in Mosta. The light brown kitten was found nailed to a wooden cross that was then hung upside down to the gate of a chapel in San Anton Abbati Street.

Last year, two puppies were found crucified in Mosta. On October 16, a priest walking along Main Street was confronted by the macabre sight of a dead dog nailed to an upside down wooden cross.

On November 16, a Chihuahua cross-breed was found crucified in the same manner on the gates of the Sacred Heart oratory.

In both cases, there was a note in which the perpetrator said the suffering s/he had gone through was worse than that of the dog.

The first two crucified cats did not have a note.

Investigators initially followed a potential link between the first case and a 1999 murder because the house where that puppy was found was where Franġisku Buhagiar, now aged 81, had shot dead his sister following an argument over burnt toast.

Two forensic psychologists, who spoke to The Times after the crucifixion of the first puppy, agreed that the perpetrator was probably a delusional adolescent male suffering from some form of personality disorder and who lived close to the crime scene.

Last year was marked by several horrifying cases of animal cruelty, with dogs being buried alive, crucified and even bound and thrown out at sea. Such events led to the largest protest against animal cruelty Malta has ever seen and legal amendments that made punishments for such crimes harsher.