A family is devastated after learning their dead cat was incinerated and ‘thrown away like a piece of rubbish’ leaving them with no chance to say goodbye.

Heartbroken Steve Collingwood and his fiancée Emma Pearce wish they had been able to bury their black and white cat after she was hit by a car just a few doors down from their home in Northway Road, Addiscombe.

But the couple were not told about the death of Mavis until five days after her body was found by Croydon Council contractors.

By then the four-and-a-half year old had been burned along with, they believe, rubbish picked up on the streets.

She had a microchip so Mr Collingwood and his partner could have been traced, and he is now calling for a change in council policy to make sure this always happens.

The 37-year-old said: "They never gave us the chance to bury our cat properly.

"They have picked it up and thrown it in the back of a van and destroyed it.

"If a pet dies you have a burial and can move on but when this happens you cannot draw a line under it.

"You think about her last hours and to be thrown away like a piece of rubbish isn’t acceptable."

The father-of-one added: "All the time we were putting flyers up and the cat had been destroyed.

"A simple scan would have revealed it was our cat.

"They have to look into and change their policies and get scanning machines for their workers."

A Croydon Council spokesman said: "The council’s dog warden has been working with Veolia, our street cleaning contractor, for the last few months to work out an improved system which will be in place in a few weeks.

"At present street cleaners look for collars and tags and the warden will scan dead domestic animals for chips whenever she is on duty, but in the future the contractors will have scanners and will be able to do this themselves.

"Veolia have no facilities for hygienically storing the bodies of dead animals, however, whenever an owner is identified they will always be contacted so they at least know what has happened to their pet."