Radlett vet brands attack on cat shot with air rifle “sickening”

PUBLISHED: 16:50 24 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:56 24 October 2018

Smudge was shot with an air rifle. Picture: Lara Breen

Smudge was shot with an air rifle. Picture: Lara Breen


A Radlett vet has branded air rifle attacks on pets “sickening” after a family cat was shot at close range.

An x-ray of Smudge's injury after he was shot with an air rifle. Picture: Lara BreenAn x-ray of Smudge's injury after he was shot with an air rifle. Picture: Lara Breen

Two-year-old kitten Smudge is lucky to be alive after being hit by a .22 air rifle pellet on October 2, between 12pm and 12.40pm on Hilfield Lane in Patchetts Green.

The bullet struck many vital organs - including his intestines, lungs, pancreas, and spleen - only narrowly missing his heart.

Luckily by 1pm catsitters had found Smudge and taken him to Medivet The Vets in Radlett to have emergency surgery. His owners, Lara Breen and her husband, were on holiday at the time of the incident.

Lara said: “I was devastated, to put it mildly. I have just turned 50 and am celebrating three years clear of cancer, so it was a special time which has been marred by this.

“[The pellet] hit everything but his heart, and were it not for the expertise of his surgeons he would have been killed.”

She believes Smudge was most likely walking along her garden fence when he was attacked.

Lara added: “He is a beautiful cat, full of vigour and a bit nervous now, but surviving.

“We have got a beautiful community with wonderful neighbours who are all coming together now to work out how it happened and who did it.”

Herts police are aware of the incident but say they have currently exhausted all lines of enquiry.

Medivet veterinary surgeon, Natasha Ho, said “We do get this happening occasionally, it’s just upsetting when it does happen because it’s completely avoidable.”

She pointed out that what causes minor injuries for a human can be life-threatening for a small cat.

“We are very happy to have been able to help. I think there has to be something furiously wrong for someone to shoot a defenceless animal. Maybe they didn’t realise and it was kids that think it is a bit of fun - but the cat can actually die from it.

“That is someone’s pet - nowadays, pets are part of the family and how would [the perpetrator] feel if someone shot a member of their family? It’s really sickening.

“We know animals get sick and things happen, unfortunately we see a lot of road traffic accidents, but for it to be deliberate is horrendous.”

One of the veterinary surgeons at Medivet, Alan Hirschowitz, has first hand experience of this - his cat Elfa was shot with an air rifle through her windpipe in Hemel Hempstead this summer.

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