Hounds taking part in a St Patrick’s Day hunt in Lurgan viciously mauled an eight-year-old girl’s beloved cat to death, it emerged today.

Audrey Spence returned from holiday yesterday to learn that hounds from the Iveagh Hunt got into the garden of her Connaught Park home and killed her daughter’s cat Misty.”

Apparently, there were a couple of kids out playing at the time and saw the whole thing happening.

My neighbour said the children saw the dogs in a complete frenzy and heard the squeals of the cat as she was a attacked by them. “Its legs were pulled off, head pulled off, and insides ripped out.”

“They have been telling my daughter what happened and now she is just beside herself.”

Mrs Spence spoke to a huntsman and was disgusted by his reaction. He claimed that “it’s only children who saw it”.

Iveagh Hunt joint master and Ronan Gorman of Countryside Alliance later claimed that “the hounds wouldn’t ordinarily chase a cat never mind attack.” “When in full cry, which isn’t frequently, [hounds] are obviously difficult to call back. The cat must have run across their path… the hounds are not vicious, they’re just like any other pet.”

They hunt reported also trespassed on to farm land. The son of a local farmer claimed that the hunt “ploughed through the fields and pulled down fence posts”.

“[They] came up here and opened all the gates and yards,” he went on to say. “A cow and a calf at my father’s yard just down the road escaped for about an hour. They left mud all over the roads and then just left.”

Responding to the incident, the Ulster SPCA’s CEO, Stephen Philpott, renewed the group’s call for a hunt ban.

“The need for a total ban on hunting with dogs has been brutally outlined by the obscene spectacle of a child’s pet being torn to shreds in the sanctuary of an urban garden,” he stated.

The demand for a hunt ban was echoed by Ms Spence. She said: “Before this, hunting would not have annoyed me but now, I can’t tolerate it at all. It is an absolutely disgusting, cruel sport that should be banned immediately.”