LONDON — The gray-haired woman gently pets the cat, occasionally glancing furtively at a garbage bin. Then she strikes, casually grabbing it by the scruff, tossing it in, popping the lid closed and quickly strolling away.

The surveillance video posted online by Lola the cat’s owners takes only seconds, but it has outraged thousands of viewers around the world, some of whom posted angry messages pledging retribution. Now, police say they’ve identified the woman and posted guards outside her house in central England.

Investigators at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which prosecutes cruelty cases, said Tuesday that the gray-striped cat was trapped for 15 hours before being rescued Sunday by her owners, who told a British newspaper they heard Lola’s muffled cries from inside the bin. The distressed cat was unharmed.

The animal society said it planned to interview the woman involved after it confirmed her identity, but declined to say whether she had been identified by a viewer of the clip online.

Lola’s owner, Stephanie Mann, said she and husband, Darryl, had previously installed a personal surveillance camera outside their home after a spate of thefts in the area.

Mann said they checked the videotape expecting to discover local youths, or a drunk, had thrown Lola into the bin late Saturday evening, but were shocked to discover the culprit was a respectable-looking woman.

“I was absolutely heartbroken to see how someone could just be so cruel,” she told the newspaper. “I don’t know what went through her head, but it was just disgusting to watch and it broke my 8-year-old daughter’s heart.”

Mann later posted the clip online, where it has attracted tens of thousands of views.