A pet that was shot in Irchester was only saved by the quick thinking of its owner's mum who rushed the stricken cat to an emergency vet hospital on Sunday (October 10).
Owner Hazel Clements was out when her mum Margaret saw Nessie, a two and a half year old calico cat, climb over their garden fence on three legs and collapse in the family home.
Knowing something was wrong, Margaret drove immediately to an out-of-hours veterinary unit in Moulton where the poorly Nessie was stabilised following blood loss.
Initially vets thought Nessie had been attacked by a dog, but x-rays revealed her shoulder blade had been shattered by an airgun pellet that had caused extensive blood loss.
Hazel said: "I couldn't believe it. The vet phoned and said 'I'm really sorry to say that she's been shot'. It was pure disbelief."
Firefighter Hazel, 33, who lives with her mum close to the village centre had been aware of a previous fatal shooting of a cat in Baker Crescent area of the village, not far from her home.
Hazel, who has had Nessie since she was a kitten, has appealed for anyone to come forward with any information to stop it happening again and has asked people in the Arkwright Road/ Wantage Road area to be vigilant.
She said: "I just wanted to make people aware in case anything similar happens. Nessie is doing alright and recovering well but does have very serious injuries and may end up losing her leg.
"My mum saw her ran over the fence on three legs and she collapsed on a piece of newspaper in our house. She could see that Nessie was very poorly. If she hadn't acted so quickly, Nessie would be dead.
"I don't expect anybody to be caught. but the cat could have belonged to a little old lady who depends on their pet for company. I have really good pet insurance so I am lucky that I can afford the treatment. but if it happened to someone else they might not have been able to pay."
Nessie will be coming home today - complete with metal plates - to be reunited with her owners and the other animals who live there - two more cats and a dog.
Hazel said: "I put three bowls of cat food down yesterday because I forgot. The other two cats don't care but my dog Django really misses Nessie. They get on really well."
Northants Police said: "This happened on October 10 at about 9am when a woman’s cat came home with leg pain. She took it to the vets who confirmed it had been shot with an air rifle."
"Anyone with info should contact us using crime number 21000591147."