An adorable cat is down to eight lives after being shot in the leg with an airgun.
Black and white moggy Charlie was “lucky to survive” after heartless youths are thought to have taken aim at him.
He limped home to Little Oak near Horsham last month with an injury to his front leg.
His owner first thought it was accidental but after an emergency trip to New Priory Vets, in Peacehaven, x-rays showed he had been shot with an airgun.
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Owner Monica Kalochoritis, 52, said: “I just cannot understand why anyone would want to shoot an animal.
“It is heartless and makes me feel very nervous that there is someone out there with a gun behaving that way.
“We are lucky Charlie is going to survive, but it is going to take quite a while for him to recover properly.”
After finding the pellet, vets put Charlie under the knife.
He is now forced to stay in a cage for six weeks while he recuperates.
Ms Kalochoritis added: “You just do not expect this sort of thing to happen in such a quiet residential area.”
Last year the RSPCA received nearly a thousand reports of animals being shot with airguns in England and Wales, with 232 of them in the South East.
So far this year they have had 149 reports of animals shot with airguns nationwide, with 36 in the South East.
Sussex Police and the RSPCA have appealed for anyone with information to come forward.
RSPCA inspector, Melissa Brett, said: “We urge anyone with any information about how this poor cat came to be shot to come forward and let us know. It is just so cruel, and so unnecessary to attack an innocent animal in this way.
“Sadly, cats and wildlife are often the target of gun attacks, simply because they are out in the open with no one to protect them.
“The injuries caused by such attacks are horrific and often fatal. These attacks are often deliberate by people who just don’t care about hurting animals or deliberately targeting animals to keep them away from gardens.
“Whoever carries out these attacks needs to understand they are illegal and that they can face up to six months in prison.”
Anyone with any information should call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.