The RSPCA is appealing for information after a cat was shot in the face with an air gun in the Benfleet area of Essex in March.

The pellet was discovered in the four-year-old cat’s face when his owners took him to the vet for a check up as they were concerned about a lump on his face which wasn’t healing.

When vet’s examined the cat, named Nigel, they discovered the lumpy scab had actually been caused by an air gun pellet which was still lodged in his face near to the lip area.

The incident was reported to the police and the RSPCA.

While it is not known when Nigel was shot, the pellet was removed by vets on March 21.

His owners, who do not want to be named, said “We took Nigel to the vet for a check up because he had a lumpy scar on the side of his face. We couldn’t believe it when the vet examined him and discovered the lump was actually an air gun pellet.

“The vets removed the pellet and Nigel has been doing well since, but we just wanted to highlight the issue as we don’t want this to happen to other cats.”

Nigel’s owners live in the Richmond Avenue area which backs onto the park area of Benfleet.

RSPCA inspector Prisca Giddens said: “I am appealing to the public for any information to this incident. I would be keen to hear from anyone who may have witnessed this, or may know who was responsible. Any information will be treated in confidence.”

Anyone who can help should call the RSPCA appeals line on  on 0300 123 8018.

Inspector Giddens added: “Every year the RSPCA receives almost 1,000 calls to investigate cases and help hundreds of animals that are the defenseless victims of air gun attacks.

“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 face up to six months in prison and/or an unlimited fine if found guilty under the Animal Welfare Act.”

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit our website.