A cat has died after being shot with a laser-sighted air rifle in a "brutal act of cruelty", the RSPCA has said.
Duchy was fatally injured near owners Valerie and Keith Edmondson's home in Heswall, Merseyside, on Friday night.
A neighbour, who found the animal writhing in pain, reported hearing a gunshot and seeing a red laser light, a spokeswoman for the charity said.
Mrs Edmondson said the attack was particularly concerning as "the gun was aimed towards houses".
RSPCA Inspector Anthony Joynes said the cat was rushed to a vet, where an X-ray revealed a pellet had fragmented its front leg bone before shattering and causing "shrapnel-type wounds" to its chest.
The "catastrophic" injuries were "so severe", the vet decided to put Duchy "to sleep", the spokeswoman added.
Mrs Edmondson said it had been "awful" to see her pet suffer, adding: "I just hope someone can help find the person responsible so no-one else has to go through what we have."