Staff and volunteers at a St Helens animal charity were left horrified when a cat brought into its care was found to have an air rifle pellet buried beneath its skin.
Homer came in to Cats Protection’s St Helen’s Adoption Centre following the death of his owner, and it was during his initial health check that a lump was discovered on his shoulder.
Unsure what the lump was, staff took the 11-year-old ginger to the vets where he was given a biopsy, leading to the pellet being uncovered and ultimately removed.
“It was awful to learn that Homer had been shot at some point in his life. Fortunately, he has come through his operation to remove the pellet well, with only a bald patch to show for it,” said deputy centre manager Kerry Kendrick.
The vet was unable to say when Homer may have been shot but suggested it was not a recent injury as it was not mentioned when he was handed over to Cats Protection care, and it is likely his previous owners were unaware it had happened.
“Homer is a very friendly, laid back boy, who loves a fuss and being stroked,” added Kerry.
“He is now ready to find his new family and should be suitable for a wide range of homes as he is used to children and other cats.
"He likes to be outside a lot so would need somewhere with safe access outdoors.”
Cats Protection is spearheading a campaign to make it illegal to own an air gun in England and Wales without a licence.
Jacqui Cuff, Cats Protection’s head of advocacy and government relations said: “Many people are shocked to learn that air guns can be owned by anyone aged over 18 in England and Wales.
"This is in contrast with Scotland and Northern Ireland, which both have sensible, modern laws in place that require licensing of airguns.
"In 2017, 164 cats in the UK were reported in the press as being shot with an air gun and this figure is only the tip of the iceberg.
"It cannot just be coincidence that over 85 per cent of these reported attacks on cats were in England and Wales.
“Sadly, this case is not a one-off and we see many instances where cats are shot by air guns, often sustaining life-changing or fatal injuries.
"It cannot be right that such weapons are so easily accessible, and modern legislation on air gun ownership is now well overdue in England and Wales.”
Cats Protection’s petition calling on the government to introduce the licensing of air guns in England and Wales has now gathered over 115,000 signatures.
The government launched a review into air weapons legislation in October 2017, including a consultation which concluded on 6 February 2018, but have still not reported their next steps.
Anyone interested in adopting Homer can contact the St Helen’s Adoption Centre on 01744 817718 or visit the centre between 11am to 3pm any day except Wednesdays.
To sign the petition, visit www.cats.org.uk/airgunspetition