Gun yob blasts off mother cat's leg.
Katrina Smith thought her pet Thunder had been bitten when she crawled into her home in agony.
But her vet discovered a pellet lodged in her right hind leg and had to quickly amputate it to save her life.
Now the injured cat has been struggling to look after her five kittens as she recovers from surgery.
Katrina, 24, said yesterday: "It's just awful someone could do that. We are disgusted that someone could have been so cruel to injure Thunder.
"We noticed something wasn't quite right when she came back in from the garden but thought a tom cat had bothered her.
"I'm really annoyed and can't understand how this could happen to a defenceless animal."
The year-old tortoiseshell cat was shot with an air rifle after she went into the garden of the house in Elgin, Moray, at around 6.30am on Monday.
The vet chose to amputate the leg because she could have injured her kittens if rods were inserted instead.
Thunder had given birth to the litter a few days before and is still nursing them while recovering.
SSPCA spokeswoman Doreen Graham said: "Shooting an animal is an extremely cruel thing to do and it's actually very worrying that these incidents have increased over the last 12 months."
Police urged anyone with information to contact them.
SAFE: Katrina and Thunder