A pet cat is in recovery following a vicious air gun attack.
Eight-year-old Poppy needed to have an eye removed and was left with a shattered jaw after she was hit close to her home near Cramlington.
The attack has prompted Cats Protection to renew calls for air guns to be licensed in England and Wales.
Poppy’s owner Sarah Muir, a volunteer for the charity, said her facial injuries were so horrific that vets at first believed she must have been hit by a car travelling at speed.
But a scan later revealed Poppy had been shot under her chin, causing her jaw to shatter before becoming lodged behind her eye socket.
As a result of the injuries, she has been left virtually blind and will need to be tube-fed for some time.
Sarah said: “We came downstairs in the morning to find Poppy in an awful way.
“I had never seen anything like it and couldn’t imagine what had happened to her.
“The vet initially said she’d been hit by a car as her injuries were so severe. When they later found the pellet and the entry wound, I felt sick.
“She’s a very friendly, much-loved cat and the thought that someone could take aim at her to inflict such awful injuries is really upsetting.
“She’ll now have to live indoors for the rest of her life and has been left with a permanent disability.
“It’s heart-breaking that a happy, healthy cat can be so badly affected by one act of horrific cruelty.”
Cats Protection’s head of advocacy and government relations, Jacqui Cuff, said: “Many people are shocked to learn that these weapons can be owned by anyone aged over 18 in England and Wales.
“This is in contrast with Scotland and Northern Ireland, which both have sensible, modern laws in place that require licensing of air guns.
“Sadly, Poppy’s case is not a one-off and we see many instances where cats are shot by air guns – often sustaining life-changing or fatal injuries.”
Cats Protection’s petition calling on the government to introduce the licensing of air guns in England and Wales has now gathered more than 115,000 signatures.
To sign it, go to www.cats.org.uk/airgunspetition