The deaths of more than 200 cats, both pet and stray, within a month have puzzled the citizens of Saint Pierre la Mer – a small seaside resort town in France.

The cats were allegedly poisoned to death, according to French dailies quoted by the BBC.

Animal protection groups in the town suspect the involvement of a "serial cat killer" whose poison has also caused deaths of many rodents and birds in the area. The locals now fear the poison could prove fatal for their children if they accidentally pick it up.

"The atmosphere has become hateful, nobody trusts anyone," a villager named only as Geneviève was quoted as saying by French daily Ouest-France, the broadcaster wrote. "We're all afraid a child might ingest some of this mystery poison."

Meanwhile, the local association of stray cats has filed a complaint with the police and hopes postmortems are carried out on the cats to establish the real cause of their deaths.

Witnesses told the local daily L'Independant that they saw blue pellets spread across some roadways that could have contained the cat poison. However, the blue pellets are commonly used in the town to kill slugs and are not animal repellent.

Meanwhile, town authorities have reportedly conducted tests on food samples and are awaiting results.

Deputy Mayor André Ruiz, in-charge of security of the town, told the daily that they suspect there is one man involved in all the killings, but they are investigating to see if cats were the actual targets of the killer (or killers) or they were "collateral damage" in some other plan.