To make matters worse, the corpse of the elderly Moppet was returned to its shocked owners in an empty dog food bag two days later.

Retired owners Les, 75, and Margaret Atkinson, 59, heard a ruckus near their house and noticed the huntsman off his horse.

Moppet had been left out in the family’s garden, in Stoupe Brow, near Ravenscar in Scarborough, to stretch its legs when the attack happened.

Margaret Atkinson, a retired teacher, said: “It was horrific. She didn’t stand a chance. She was an old lady and it was not the way for an innocent animal to meet her end.

“I can’t bear the thought that in her last few moments she was in terror. She didn’t deserve to die like that.’ The hunt said the dogs attacked when the cat ‘panicked’ and tried to run off.”

They feared the worst when they later found blood on the ground and realised their elderly tabby was missing.

They later spoke to two members of the hunt, who admitted the dogs had killed the cat by ‘accident’ and the pet’s body was returned two days later in an empty dog food sack.

The incident was reported to the police, but after an investigation officers decided to take no further action.

Atkinson  said no apolgy had been offered by the hunters

“Moppet was a big part of the family. We bought her the year my daughter went to secondary school. She’s a 30-year-old teacher now and is married. She was devastated when we told her.’

Hunt chairman Bill Dobson yesterday said the beloved cat’s death was “regrettable”.

He said: “The cat panicked and tried to run away, which set the dogs off.”