The RSPCA is appealing for information after a cat was shot in the head by an air rifle in Ardley.
Twelve year old Harvey was rushed to the vets in Chipping Norton last week by owner Bernadine Smith, 57, of Castle Field when his face began to swell and blood began seeping from his nose.
Vets at the emergency practice were initially puzzled by Harvey’s condition aside from a small mark on his face.
However, X-ray scans soon revealed a flat-nosed pellet- commonly used by air rifle owners for target practice- was lodged in Harvey’s skull just above his left eye.
Mrs Smith, a semi-retired driver demonstrator with Paragon Automotive in Upper Heyford, was left to foot the £700 vet bill. She said she was shocked and upset at Harvey’s injuries and is convinced Harvey was deliberately shot at when he was resting on the garden wall at her home.
She said: “If it was my other cat Moonlight he could have been shot anywhere, but Harvey doesn’t roam far from the house, he is a home loving cat.
The RSPCA takes attacks like this very seriously and we would like to remind people that they face penalties of up to six months in prison and/or a £20,000 fine if they are caught and found guilty under the Animal Welfare Act of deliberately using an air weapon to injure an animal.RSPCA chief inspector Robert Hartley
“It is so upsetting people could do that – especially in a little village.
“It makes me feel really angry and hurt; being an animal lover I can’t stand cruelty to animals.
“I would like to speak to the people that did this.”
Harvey has been put on a course of painkillers and antibiotics, but Mrs Smith it would cost specialist vets at least £7,000 to remove the pellet.
The family are hoping Harvey will be able to recover without the surgery as otherwise they could be forced to put him down.
The shooting, believed to have occurred some time on Sunday, May 3, has been reported to Thames Valley Police and Mrs Smith has warned pet owners to be vigilant about the welfare of their animals. Mrs Smith, a self-confessed animal lover, said her family had saved Harvey and his brother Moonlight from drowning when they were days old.
She said: “We overheard a conversation in the post office about a woman whose cat had kittens and was going to drown them.
“My husband went and when he brought them back they could not even open their eyes.”
Commenting on the attack RSPCA chief inspector Robert Hartley said: “Sadly cats are often the victims of air gun attacks due to the fact that they spend a lot of time outdoors without anyone there to protect them. These attacks can have devastating and often fatal consequences on the animals and this poor cat is extremely lucky to have survived, especially since the shot was to the head.
“The RSPCA takes attacks like this very seriously and we would like to remind people that they face penalties of up to six months in prison and/or a £20,000 fine if they are caught and found guilty under the Animal Welfare Act of deliberately using an air weapon to injure an animal.
“We are appealing to anyone who may have more information about this incident and would like to encourage them to contact the RSPCA’s inspector appeal line on 0300 123 8018.”
There have been 124 complaints to the RSPCA in the last year about cats being shot with air guns. Only one of these complaints concerned Oxfordshire yet an RSPCA spokesperson said such incidents are on the rise. From January to April 2014 there were 18 complaints nationally and in the same time period this year there were 48 complaints nationally.