Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Cat shot in Hampshire gives birth to kittens

Hope with its four kittens Image copyright Cats Protection
Image caption The cat, which has been named Hope, was treated at Seadown Veterinary Surgery in Hythe

A cat has given birth to four kittens - despite being shot three times in the neck and head while pregnant.

The black-and-white cat, which has been named Hope, was found covered in blood in a garden in Marchwood, Hampshire.

Cats Protection Southampton said the cat, believed to be about three years old, was shot with an air rifle.

Only one of the three pellets - in her mouth - could be removed without risking its life, the charity added.

Image copyright Cats Protection
Image caption After having one of the pellets removed from its mouth it gave birth to four kittens

The other two were lodged in the animal's neck.

Carolyne Kemp, of Cats Protection, said: "As well as needing surgery for her wounds and to remove the pellet, she needed to stay as an in-patient for a few days until she was able to come home with me to foster.

"Hope needed further assistance when it was time for her kittens to be born.

"To get through such an ordeal and then give birth to four healthy kittens is really quite amazing."

Image copyright Cats Protection
Image caption Hope's kittens will be re-homed

A petition by the charity, calling on the government to introduce the licensing of air guns in England and Wales, in line with legislation in Northern Ireland and Scotland, has received almost 120,000 signatures.

The charity said since 2015, more than 800 cats in the UK were reported as being shot with an air gun.

A Home Office spokesman said: "The misuse of air weapons to injure pets is totally unacceptable, which is why we have completed a review to assess whether the controls and regulations in England and Wales continue to be appropriate and effective.

"We intend to publish our conclusions as soon as possible."