An investigation has been launched after a cat had to have its leg amputated following horrific injuries caused by an airgun shot in Whaley Bridge.
Monty's owner found him in a distressed state and with his back leg bleeding when he returned to his home in the town.
She thought he had been run over by a car so rushed him to a nearby veterinary practice.
But the vet confirmed the injury had been caused by an airgun shot and Monty's back leg was so badly damaged it had to be amputated.
The eight-year-old cat is now recovering from his ordeal and the RSPCA are investigating the incident, which occurred on March 25 between 11am and 12.15pm.
Monty's owner, who doesn't want to be named, said: “I had been shopping with my friend and when we came in the house I could see Monty was agitated. Then we noticed the injured leg and I thought he had been run over so we rushed him to the vets.
“But they found a pellet in his leg and confirmed he had been shot. His leg was so badly damaged it needed to be amputated and now Monty is trying to get used to life on three legs.
“It is so sad really as he was such a lively cat who liked going outside - now he sits in the window looking out but is too frightened to leave the house.
“I believe he was lucky to survive as the vet said he was shot at close range.
“I just hope whoever did this is caught because I fear for other people’s pets and wildlife in the area.”
RSPCA Inspector Heather Morris is now appealing for information to find the person responsible.
She said: “Monty must have been in a lot of pain from the wound and then had to bravely make his way home. It must have been terrifying for him.
“The person who did this needs to be caught and brought to justice. It is completely unacceptable and appalling behaviour.
“It is obviously really concerning that someone was in that area with this type of potentially lethal weapon.”
Every year the RSPCA receives almost 1,000 calls to investigate cases and help hundreds of animals that are the defenceless victims of air gun attacks.
Inspector Morris added: “It is very distressing to think that people take pleasure in causing such horrific injuries to defenceless animals. These are deliberate and brutal acts of cruelty.
“Cats and wildlife are normally the animals that are more susceptible to these incidents simply because they are out in the open with no one to protect them. Unfortunately, air rifle attacks are not as rare as we would like. The injuries caused by such attacks are horrific and often fatal.
"We are calling for tighter controls on air weapons. This, along with better education and explanation of the law when buying an air gun, and requirements that everyone must receive basic safety training before being allowed to walk out of the shop could help relieve the problem.
“These weapons cause horrific pain and suffering and it is illegal. Anyone caught deliberately using an air gun to injure an animal can be up to six months in prison and/or an unlimited fine if found guilty under the Animal Welfare Act.”
Anyone with information should contact the RSPCA appeals line on 0300 123 8018.