OUTWARDLY, he is a handsome tabby with distinctive white paws, but beneath the fluffy exterior lurks an aggressive beast.

But when the feral cat, roaming free in Kennington, sank its teeth into Patti Talbot’s right leg, it left her in hospital for three days, with wounds more than an inch deep.

With a permanent scar and a lingering infection, Miss Talbot says she continues to be stalked by the cat and is now too frightened to go into her garden alone.

She said the animal stood firm in the face of blasts from a water pistol and chases those who try to chase it away.

Miss Talbot said she was genuinely scared of it and she and partner Paul Taylor – whose cats Max and Eevee have been attacked by the tom – are concerned it could attack a child.

Miss Talbot, a seamstress and part-time nanny from Meadow View Road, was attacked on January 27 after spotting it in her garden.

She said: “I went to the door to shoo it away, but it just stood there. Then I went up the steps, but it still would not go.

“The next thing I knew it lunged at me and grabbed hold of my leg. The wound was so deep it bled for 24 hours.”

After being seen by accident-and-emergency staff at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Miss Talbot was given antibiotics and sent home, but had to return the following week for a three-night stay because of the infection.

And the cat is still at large.

“I see it at least once a day,” said Miss Talbot. “It arches its back, makes a growling noise and looks ready to attack.”

“I have shot it with a water pistol but it just stands there as if to say ‘put that down, I am going to get you’.”

She added: “I don’t want to go outside at all, and when I come home at night I’m absolutely petrified in case it is hanging around by my car.”

Mr Taylor, 52, said: “I phoned the RSCPA, but they said they could not really do anything, and the police could not do anything because it is not a dog.

“I also called the Vale of White Horse District Council and they were very nice, but said that because of the cutbacks they couldn’t do anything.”

Vale of White Horse District Council said there was little it could do about the problem. A spokesman said its pest control team was being disbanded in April.

If you know of a way to deal with a problem cat, call Thom Airs on 01865 425422 or email tairs@oxfordmail.co.uk