The RSPCA is investigating after a cat was shot in the neck with an air rifle in Liverpool.

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Nine-year-old Polly had to have surgery after the pellet lodged in the vertebrae of her neck, in what could have been a fatal injury.

She was taken to Alder Vets, in Eaton Road, by her worried owners after she returned home walking abnormally on Wednesday last week (23 November).

RSPCA inspector Claire Fisher said: “Polly’s owners knew instantly something was wrong, and as they went to stroke her they felt that her fur was wet. They realised that it was blood coming out of her neck and they took her to the vets straightaway.

“An X-ray showed that a pellet was extremely close to the vertebrae of Polly’s neck – this could have been fatal. The pellet was only five milimetres away from severing her spinal cord. Polly must have suffered terribly, but in some ways she has had a lucky escape. Many cats shot in this way are fatally wounded and do not survive.”

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It is thought that Polly was targeted around the Liverpool Road and Tiger Court Business Park area, in Huyton, sometime on Wednesday morning, before 1pm.

A CT scan showed that part of the pellet lodged into the bone could migrate into her spinal canal, leading to a decision to surgically remove it.

Inspector Fisher said: “Polly is currently stable, however this has still been an incredibly traumatic incident for Polly and her owners. At the moment we know very little about when and why this has happened, and who shot poor Polly. We urge anybody with any information to come forward.”

Anyone with further information about this incident can call the RSPCA inspector appeal line in complete confidence on 0300 123 8018.

Inspector Fisher added: “Unfortunately, air rifle attacks are not as rare as we would like. Cats and wildlife are more susceptible to these incidents simply because they are out in the open with no one to protect them.

“Air rifles cause horrific pain and suffering and it is illegal to injure an animal like this. Anyone caught deliberately using an air gun to injure an animal can be up to six months in prison and/or a £20,000 fine if found guilty under the Animal Welfare Act.”

The RSPCA is a charity and we rely on public donations to exist. To assist our inspectors in carrying out their vital work please text HELP to 78866 to give £3. (Texts cost £3 + one standard network rate message.)