The RSPCA is appealing for information after two cats belonging to the same family were shot within a week of each other in Liverpool.

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Liberty and Shalilah both had to have veterinary treatment as a result of being shot with an air rifle in their head and neck, near to their home in Old Dover Road.

Ten-month-old tortoiseshell Liberty was found collapsed by a dog walker in Rabbit Wood, in Oak Road, at around 2pm on Tuesday 25 July. Her concerned owners took her to a vet where an x-ray showed an air gun pellet lodged in her head. The pellet was in a position which would have made it difficult to safely remove.

A week later, on 1 August, their second cat – two-year-old ragdoll/siamese cross Shalilah – returned home with blood on her face.

Her owners discovered an entry hole in her neck, and she too was rushed to a vet. An x-ray confirmed a pellet was lodged in her upper jaw, which was successfully surgically removed.

It is thought that both cats were shot on a footpath near to their home.

RSPCA inspector Louise Showering said: “Understandably their owners are extremely angry, worried and upset and are now in a position where they are afraid to let their cats out of their home.

“There is also the additional worry that other pets and wildlife are also at risk, some of which may be injured and not fortunate enough to be found or make their way home to safety.”

The number of calls to the RSPCA reporting airgun attacks on animals is set to reach a five-year high this year.

Britain’s biggest animal charity has already received more than 470 calls about such incidents in the first six months of the year, compared to 455 during the same period for 2016.

Inspector Showering said: “We receive hundreds of calls from devastated cat owners every year after they discover their beloved pets have been shot.

“It often leaves the victim with life-changing injuries, such as the lost of an eye, or even requiring the amputation of a limb. In some tragic instances, the injuries even prove fatal.

“It is difficult to understand how anyone could carry out these mindless attacks on innocent animals and we are backing calls for stricter regulations around owning an airgun. This, along with better education and explanation of the law when buying an air gun, as well as requirements that everyone must receive basic safety training before being allowed to walk out of the shop could help relieve the problem.”

Anyone caught deliberately using an airgun to injure an animal can face up to six months in prison and an unlimited fine if found guilty under the Animal Welfare Act.

People with information about who shot Liberty and Shalilah should contact the RSPCA’s appeals line on 0300 123 8018, and leave a message for Inspector Showering.

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit: www.rspca.org.uk/give or text LOVE to 87023 to give £3 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).