RSPCA Inspector Keith Hogben said these kind of incidents "unfortunately happen far too often"
The owners of a cat left seriously injured after being shot by an airgun have urged people to be vigilant following a "spate" of cat shootings in Pembrokeshire.
Vets believe Jemima, a two-year-old tabby cat, may never fully regain her mobility after she was shot with an airgun near her home in Fishguard on May 6.
The pellet, which entered just below her neck, came to rest between her shoulder blades and just millimetres from her spine. It has been deemed too risky to remove.
Another female cat was also shot the previous evening (5 May) in a neighbouring street, and subsequently had to be put down.
A third incident occurred seven miles away in Newport at the beginning of the month, with a vet confirming that the cat’s fatal injuries had been caused by an air gun.
Jemima's owners said: “When we found Jemima, she was unable to walk, and had no use in her hind legs.
“She is making a slow recovery at home and with treatment has started to gain the use of her legs, albeit slowly.
“She has always been a very active cat who enjoyed being outside but her life has now changed completely. She can’t go out and doesn’t understand why she can no longer jump up or run around like she used to.
“We’re shocked and horrified that somebody living near our house has willfully inflicted this cruelty on our family pet, and we are very concerned about reports of other occurrences like this in our area. We hope that our community will remain vigilant, and that any further incidents are reported to both the police and the RSPCA.”
RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben is urging people to come forward with information about the attacks and to report suspicious behaviour to the animal welfare charity.
He said: “Jemima was extremely lucky to survive this callous shooting and I sincerely hope she continues to make positive progress in the weeks and months ahead.
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“Sadly we tend to see a rise in these mindless attacks when the weather warms up and people are spending more time outside. We also saw a significant number of cases during the national lockdown months."
Mr Hogben explained that from his own experience dealing with these sorts of incidents, it is not just caused by children messing around with airguns.
"In my experience, that's not the case at all," he said.
"It's adults who either don't want cats coming in their garden or just want to fire at something."
He added: “The RSPCA continues to call for stricter regulations around owning an airgun in both England and Wales. Better education, basic safety training for owners and a thorough explanation of the law - including our legal obligations towards animals - could help protect countless animals from these horrible attacks in the future."
Anyone with information about the shootings in Pembrokeshire should call the RSPCA’s inspectorate appeal line on 0300 123 8018.