Pet owners warned to be vigilant after cat is shot seven times with air rifle

Alanna McIlwaine is glad to have her beloved cat Pebbles back home with her. INNT 19-504CON
Alanna McIlwaine is glad to have her beloved cat Pebbles back home with her. INNT 19-504CON

A Newtownabbey woman has warned pet owners in the Rathcoole area to be vigilant after her beloved cat was shot seven times with an air rifle.

Alanna McIlwaine’s 11-month-old tabby cat Pebbles was being looked after by her friend in the Ballyronan Park area of the estate last month.

Pebbles suffered injuries to the top of her tail. INNT 19-503CON

Pebbles suffered injuries to the top of her tail. INNT 19-503CON

Pebbles, described by Alanna as “an indoor cat”, managed to get out of the house and wandered off, possibly towards Glas Na Braden Glen. She returned just over four weeks later, covered in wounds and emaciated due to lack of food.

Pebbles had been shot at least seven times, suffering injuries to her head, face and body. The vet removed three metal pellets from her open wounds, and another four are still lodged in her body. And while her physical scars are healing, Pebbles has been left with a fear of strangers.

After talking to the vet about Pebbles’ shocking injuries, Alanna believes her cat was held or hung by the tail and deliberately shot at with an air rifle.

“I can’t believe anyone could do this to a defenceless animal,” she said. “We think she was lying for about two weeks until she got the strength up to come back to us. She had seven pellets in her and she’d lost a lot of weight - she was so skinny.”

The 31-year-old, who got Pebbles when she was just a 12-week-old kitten, decided to speak out about the incident to highlight the problem of animal cruelty and warn other pet owners to be vigilant.

“I was very distressed by what happened to Pebbles, especially while she was in the vets for two days getting treatment, but I’m just glad she’s now home where she belongs.

“If people see anybody in the area with an air rifle, or if they see anybody being cruel to animals they should report it.”