We have recently heard from a number of correspondents who have shared the stories of their cats being shot and injured with air guns.


Every month more and more cats fall victim to air gun attacks.  This month there have already been nine reports from around the country, and we have little doubt that many more incidents go unreported or unnoticed.  The injuries resulting from these attacks cause pain and distress to the animal, they frequently result in permanent damage such as the loss of an eye or a limb and often have fatal consequences.  For their owners there will be the inevitable worry and sadness together with the expense of veterinary treatment.


There is no indication that the targeting of cats and other animals with air guns shows any sign of declining despite recent legislation placing more restrictions on the purchase of air weapons.  These weapons still fall too easily into the hands of those who appear to regard shooting animals as a legitimate pastime, and too often the incidents are not being treated seriously enough by the authorities.  Although the police are often quoted as saying that they will be treating the shootings seriously, some of our correspondents have rather different experiences.  As our Pet Owner's Factsheet explains anyone who deliberately shoots a pet may be guilty of one of a number of criminal offences and there are also civil remedies for those whose pets have been attacked.


Those who perpetrate air gun attacks on pets can do so easily because no one has to justify why they need to own these weapons, and it is therefore not surprising that so many of the guns are used for inappropriate, irresponsible and cruel purposes.  GCN has campaigned for a system of registration which restricts ownership of air guns solely to those who have legitimate uses for them.  Our correspondents who have had to witness the aftermath of their own cat being shot are supportive of a registration process.



Story 1 - from a correspondent in Kent

"My cat was shot with an air gun in July 2009. He roams out of our garden and there is a substantial area where houses back on to each other and I'm assuming it was from one of these houses that he was shot. I did report it to our local police just as a record. (I didn't expect them to do anything about it). They said it was the only incident they'd had.  However a chance conversation revealed that another cat had been shot in the eye in March 2009, losing the eye and almost her life.  That cat's owners had reported the incident to the police and written to the local paper who had published their letter.


Thankfully my cat made a full recovery - vet bill in the region of 100, but worth it!  - I first noticed a lump on his flank one which was small and I thought it might be a wound or a something similar from a cat fight. After a few days I realised the lump had migrated to his belly and was now slightly bigger than a 10p piece, which was when I took him to the vet's."


Story 2 - from another correspondent in Kent

"Years ago my poor cat came in very distressed with a lick streak on her back which at first I thought nothing of.  When it didn't dry the usual way I wiped it with a tissue and discovered it was blood, the cat is black so it hadn't showed against her coat.  I thought she had just caught herself and as there was no fresh blood I left it till the morning to see how she was.  I was in the garden that following morning, putting my rabbits in their runs on our lawn, when I found a spent air rifle pellet on the concrete steps.  Immediately putting two and two together I whisked the poor cat off to the vets and they removed a pellet from her back.  Luckily it had caused no lasting damage.


Infuriated, I visited all my neighbours and told them to watch out for their pets.  Some new people had just moved in next door but one told me they found two dead seagulls in their yard which had been shot, but worse than that the mother and daughter who lived there previously had left because the daughter had been shot in the neck whilst putting out the washing!!  Fortunately she made a full recovery.


A week or so later I was off sick and heard what I thought were shots out the back.  Cautiously creeping outside the noise directed me to my next door neighbours upper most window which was the fourth floor, where I saw the muzzle of what I can only assume was an air rifle poking out, aiming at my two rabbits on the lawn.  Aware that I had to catch the culprit in the act I ran to the phone box to call the police, who actually laughed at me until I threatened to go round and sort it out myself.  They arrived in ten minutes and fortunately none of the animals were hurt this time.  It didn't happen again to my knowledge.  When the policeman came to see me after visiting the 'gunman' he told me the guy said he knew me from school; what on earth that had got to do with anything I don't know!!"


Story 3 - from an RSPCA volunteer

Mikey the cat has been semi paralysed following an air gun attack and there is a YouTube video of him being 'walked' in a special harness.  Cat lovers have donated 600 after our correspondent tried to get some special wheels for him on a thread she created on the website 'Purrs in their hearts'.  More details and links to the videos can be found on an RSPCA page created for Mikey.  There was no press report about his shooting.


Story 4 - from a correspondent in Cumbria

In April we were contacted by the owner of Jack, a kitten who had been shot with an air gun.  A blogspot has been created to highlight what happened to Jack and to seek information about who shot him.



If you have a story you wish to share with others about your own pet please contact GCN.  By publicising the cruelty inflicted by some air gun owners we will stand a better chance of persuading politicians that there is every reason why air guns should be treated exactly the same as every other firearm, with every user having to justify ownership.



Posted: 23 May 2010



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