Concerns that foxes are "brutally" killing pets have caused one borough vet to call for a cull.

Cristobel Moseley, of Twickenham Veterinary Surgery, says she has seen a dramatic rise in domestic pets being mauled and killed by foxes: "I can recount at least five incidences over the last six months. Four of these have ended in the death of the pet."

Mrs Moseley claims there are so many foxes in the area that they are struggling to compete for food.

One elderly cat was recently brought into her surgery: "He had been brutally attacked and had literally been ripped apart. I strongly believe that the foxes in our area must start to be culled," she said.

Trevor Williams, of The Fox Project, advises Richmond upon Thames Council on methods to deter foxes and conducts fox rescues in the borough.

He said: "We have seen a lot of cats that have supposedly been attacked by foxes over the years. They have been found to be road accidents that the foxes have scavenged and I suspect this is the case here - foxes will eat anything that's dead and will tear it apart."

Mr Williams said fox numbers have dropped in the south-east in the past eight years and that the possibility that a "rogue" fox was killing pets was "unlikely".

He added: "A fox is only going to attack one or two cats to get so badly marked by their claws that he thinks better of it.

"A fox does not weigh any more than a cat and there's no possibility that foxes can overpower an animal with such a sophisticated armoury. Plus, foxes do not go in for fighting - they are more likely to bark and cuff and nudge."

Mr Williams said that he recieves 6,000 calls per year from households nationwide wishing to deter foxes. "Most people solve the problems themselves with non-toxic deterrants," he added.

A spokesman for Richmond council said: "We continually monitor fox complaints and there is no evidence to suggest that they are out of control.

"Residents can refer to our advice leaflet on how to deter foxes which is available from the Civic Centre, by phoning 8891 7800, or visit the council website at"