The discovery of a mutilated cat on a Lake of the Pines sidewalk last month has had a devastating effect on the founder of Friends Forever Cat Sanctuary in Auburn. 

The cat was cut in half with a sharp object and its organs, including its heart, were cut out.  The lower torso was missing altogether. It was identified thorough a microchip inserted by the sanctuary.

"It was the worst day of my life," said a tearful Shirley Hartford, describing the call she got from Animal Control officers.

The cat was known to her as "Panda," part of a litter of four kittens she rescued from Sacramento after its mother died.  Panda and a sister were adopted out to a family after five months at the sanctuary.

"She was a sweet cat, a lap cat.  There wasn't a mean bone in her body. There was no reason for her to die like that," Hartford told FOX40.

She said the person who adopted Panda and a sister gave the cat away violating the adoption contract.  But the adoptive party dodged efforts to recover the cats going so far as to change their phone number.

Just who killed the cat is unknown, so is the motive. The Nevada County Sheriff's Department is working on some leads, thanks to the I.D. of the cat provided by the microchip.

"It's sick. Somebody is really disturbed," said Hartford.

Hartford says the person has to be found, believing that somebody knows who committed what deputies are calling felony animal cruelty.  The sanctuary is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the culprit.  Hartford hopes that other animal groups may want to help increase the reward. Her concern is for other cats and humans as well.

"This person is a sick, demented person who will only escalate what they're doing," said Hartford.