Cat owners have been warned to be on their guard after a fatal air rifle attack.
Devastated Dorothy Moore was forced to have her beloved cat Tino put down after he suffered horrific injuries in a shooting in the High House area of Morpeth.
And with the culprits still at large, she is anxious to warn others of the threat.
“I just can’t understand why people would want to do such a thing,” she said.
“Perhaps whoever did it didn’t realise that they had hit Tino, or didn’t realise the damage they could do to small animals, but I can’t understand how it could be an accident. He was quite a large black and white cat so you couldn’t mistake him for a rabbit.
“Other people need to be aware.”
The attack happened between 10am and 2,10pm on Tuesday, May 27.
Mrs Moore was recovering from major abdominal surgery at her home in High House Road when Tino appeared and she knew immediately that something was wrong.
“I had only been out of hospital for two weeks and Tino came upstairs to find me, but he was being sick,” she said.
“I had to ask my husband to pick him up and the cat growled, which was really unlike him. He was so gentle and never scratched or bit anyone.”
The couple took him to the vet and initially it was thought he may have been poisoned, but a scan revealed an air gun pellet in his stomach. The plan was to operate, but it was then discovered that the pellet had gone through an intestine and kidney and there was no hope.
“It was a big blow to me,” said Mrs Moore. “I’ve had a lot on my plate with the surgery and now this.”
It was the second time Tino had been shot with an air rifle after sustaining a broken leg in an attack three years ago. He was also blind in one eye following a mystery blow to the head when he was a two-year-old. Mrs Moore had considered keeping him locked inside after those incidents, but the cat loved the outdoors.
“He loved his freedom and it would have been cruel to contain him,” she said.
“Even though he had one eye, he would still catch rabbits. He was a brave cat and would even stand up to dogs. He was adventurous despite everything that had happened.”
Tino was a regular visitor to the field and woods beside High House and Mrs Moore has put a poster up at the entrance to Borough Woods seeking information about the attack and warning fellow cat owners to beware.
She said: “This happened in the school holidays so I don’t know if someone has just taken a pot-shot.
“I’m a teacher and I know the vast majority of kids are lovely and would be absolutely horrified to think that anything like this could happen, but there is always a small minority who aren’t like that.
“People can cause a lot of damage with air pellets. There is a lot of wildlife in the woods so it is a danger to that as well, and of course it could cause a lot of damage even to human beings, especially in the eye area.
“If people are irresponsible enough to fire an air rifle at a cat, what else could they do?
“I don’t know what else I can do to try to raise awareness of this.”
Police have carried out enquiries, but say the shooting could have been an accident. Anyone with information should contact them on 101, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.