A Downham carer's cat was dumped in a wheelie bin for four days, in what he suspects was a homophobic attack.

Ben Alcock, 34, became concerned after nine-year-old Stitch, who usually wanders for just a few hours with sister Lilo, went missing for four days.

On Friday, he heard a faint crying noise in his front-garden recycling bin, lifting the lid to find the shaken cat, who leapt out at the first opportunity.

Mr Alcock, who cares for his partner full-time, said: "Someone deliberately put him in the bin, there's no way he could have got in there otherwise.

"Stitch has a very low cry and, because of my hearing difficulties, it can sometimes be difficult for me to tell where a sound in coming from.

"I’ve been kicking myself, because I just didn’t think to look sooner.

"He must have been starving when he got out, but he was still too scared to come indoors initially.

"He's still quite nervy, but hopefully that will improve over time."

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Stitch (right) with sister Lilo

Ben has provided care for his 82-year-old husband, who suffers Alzheimer's, for the last 5 years.

Having experienced harassment in the area due to his sexuality, he suspects homophobia may have motivated whoever targeted his cat.

"Over the years we've had local teenagers causing trouble for us, giving us homophobic abuse," Ben said.

"I've had windows smashed and the front door egged, just to mention a couple of incidents,

"The police have been involved over seven years, but I can't prove where the culprits live.

"It sad, we're still targeted for something that in wide society is seen as normal.

"I can’t prove who it was, but its the only explanation I can think of."

A day later, Stitch returned home covered in white powder, leaving Ben again fearing he had been singled out.

"It’s made me feel very angry. I love animals and there’s no need for people to be cruel to them," he said.

"If you don’t like them, just leave them alone.

"I am actually thinking, do I need to rehome them? Do I need to find a place where they won’t be abused?"