Emergency vets save Kit during hour-long operation

A cat narrowly escaped spinal damage after being cruelly shot by an airgun-wielding thug.

Kit, who’s nearly two, needed a lengthy middle-of-the-night operation at Vets Now in Gateshead and is now recovering at home.

Owner Rhianna Bates, from Consett, says he feels like their “miracle cat”. But she has blasted the “idiot” responsible and said people shouldn’t be allowed potentially lethal air guns.

Image of black cat kit looking at the camera for Vets Now article on cat shot with air rifle
Poor Kit was shot by an airgun ©Vets Now

Kit was wounded while out near the family home, but it took Rhianna a while to realise what had happened.

“It was actually the first anniversary of us getting him and he came racing in through the cat flap,” said Rhianna. “We thought he’d just been spooked by something and he went into his bed and went to sleep.

“It was only when it came to dinner time and he wasn’t interested in his food that we realised something was wrong and then spotted the wound on his neck.

“It had been bleeding, but not massively and we thought he had maybe caught himself on a stick or a nail or maybe another cat had nipped him. We never for a moment thought he’d been shot.”

“He was limping and holding up his paw and even though it was late at night I knew he needed help. I’ve used Vets Now before so we put him in the car and drove to him straight there.

“It took about an hour and it was a horrible journey as he was so lethargic and miaowing like he was screaming. I was crying as I was driving, and my partner Tony was holding him on his lap and trying to comfort him.

“We were so grateful we had somewhere like Vets Now to get help at that time of night.”

Image of black cat Kit lying with his eyes closed on his owner's lap for Vets Now article on cat show with air rifle
When his owners realised he had been shot they rushed him to Vets Now ©Vets Now

It was almost midnight by the time the couple arrived at our Gateshead clinic. It’s one of a nationwide network of more than 60 hospitals and clinics open seven days a week for out-of-hours pet emergencies.

“When we clipped and cleaned the wound, we were highly suspicious that it had been caused by an air gun pellet,” said senior vet nurse Ashley Wemple.

“An operation was required, but there was the risk of nerve damage.

“It looked like bone may have stopped the path of the pellet, but it had gone deep and it took more than an hour of surgery and numerous radiographs to locate it. Thankfully, our awesome vet Sarah managed to remove the pellet.

“Due to its position, Kit was very lucky not have suffered spinal damage.”

Close-up image of Kit the cat looking directly at the camera for Vets Now article on cat show with air rifle
After more than an hour of surgery, the team were able to remove the pellet ©Vets Now

Rhianna and Tony were so determined to be close to Kit they stayed in the car park outside throughout the night.

“He’s like our baby and there’s no way we were going to leave him,” said Rhianna.

“Hearing he’d been shot was such a shock, we still can hardly believe that happened to him.

“We’d been told about the risks, but we knew we couldn’t leave him in pain. The wait was awful and we were really upset but it was such a relief when we heard he’d come through it.

“He’s like our miracle cat and I couldn’t stop crying when we got him back and I was able to give him a cuddle. I couldn’t bear the thought of saying goodbye to him.”

Image of black cat Kit lying with is eyes closed with his head in his owner's hand for Vets Now article on cat shot with air gun
Kit's owners were relieved when they were told he'd come through the operation ©Vets Now

Kit needed weeks on painkillers and with a suit to protect his stitches. Thankfully, though, he’s almost back to his old self, with his limp improving daily.

But vets frequently see such distressing cases and Rhianna is still angry at the callous actions of the person who shot Kit.

“We don’t know if he was shot deliberately or hit when the idiot was aiming at something else,” said Rhianna. “But it really doesn’t matter, people just shouldn’t have these weapons.

“There is always the danger of hitting an animal, or even a child, so it can never be worth that risk. We’ve been so scared of letting Kit out just in case it happens again.”

He’s like our miracle cat and I couldn’t stop crying when we got him back and I was able to give him a cuddle. I couldn’t bear the thought of saying goodbye to him.

Rhianna Bates Kit's owner

According to latest figures, the RSPCA receives around 800 reports of airgun attacks on animals annually, with cats and pigeons bearing the brunt.

Anyone caught deliberately using an airgun to injure an animal can face up to six months in prison and/or a £20,000 fine.

All of Vets Now’s out-of-hours clinics and 24/7 hospitals have a vet and vet nurse on site at all times.

Vets Now also offer an online video consultation service to make professional veterinary advice more easily available.

While the service is not suitable for life-threatening emergencies, our experienced vets are available to discuss any worries or concerns pet owners might have.

If your pet needs an in-person follow-up appointment at any vet practice, we will refund the online consultation fee, so you never pay twice.