Pellet gun shooting leads to feline’s passing

Fresh wounds from the gunshots were not apparent, indicating that the cat had been shot some time ago.

A stray female cat that was trapped by a Tlell couple and surrendered to the Haida Gwaii SPCA for re-homing had to be euthanized on April 12 after a vet check revealed advanced cancer and an even more disturbing finding she had been shot by a pellet gun.

This black cat, who had striking bright green eyes, showed up at the couple’s property in late March. Initially quite skittish, she nevertheless stayed on the property and slowly became quite relaxed around the couple, their other cats, and even their dog. What concerned the couple was what appeared to be a large mat on the cat’s belly. By early April, the couple decided to borrow a live trap and bring the cat to the vet to have the mat removed, as it was clearly bothering her.

Just prior to the couple setting the trap, they spoke with a SPCA volunteer who let them know that the SPCA might be able to accept the cat as a foster, work to socialize her, and eventually find a forever home for her. The couple was very happy to hear that the cat could have a happier life, as they couldn’t take on the responsibility of caring for another pet. They agreed to surrender the cat to the SPCA if a tattoo or microchip could not be found to identify the owner.

They successfully trapped the female and took her to the Haida Gwaii Animal Hospital for an assessment. The SPCA agreed to pay for the cost of the mat removal, as well as spaying and vaccinations. While assessing the cat’s condition, however, Dr. Dane Richardson discovered a large abdominal tumour as well as a number of gun pellets, which were lodged in various parts of her body. Fresh wounds from the gunshots were not apparent, indicating that the cat had been shot some time ago. She was extremely thin and, given the extent of the tumour, was beyond a reasonable chance of recovery. The decision was made to euthanize her to prevent further suffering.

Dr. Richardson was surprised the cat had survived as long as she had, which is a testament to her will to live.

“I was shocked to hear that this cat had been shot,” said Anna Maria Husband, chair of the Haida Gwaii SPCA Community Council. “Here you have Good Samaritans who were willing to spend their own money to have what they thought was a large mat removed from this poor, stray cat. They were very happy to find out that the Haida Gwaii SPCA was able to help. Happiness quickly turned to upset, however, when they found out not only that the cat was very sick, but also that she had been shot some time before she showed up on their property.”

“I am equally upset that someone would shoot a cat. Organizations such as the Haida Gwaii SPCA and the Animal Helpline in Masset will accept stray or homeless cats. Both organizations have amazing volunteers who are very gifted at socializing cats. With time, patience, and love, these wonderful people teach the cats that humans can be trusted. As a result, these animals can eventually be adopted to forever homes. It is such a shame that this stray wasn’t given such an opportunity, but instead was shot and left to fend for herself. Pellets usually don’t lead to immediate death, but instead the resulting injuries and infection often lead to a slow, painful death. This female finally found the right people to help her, but unfortunately not in time to address her injuries and illnesses before they became terminal.”

Anyone who has trouble with stray cats can call the Haida Gwaii SPCA at 250-559-8807 to request assistance. In cases where feral cat colonies become established because people have abandoned unfixed cats, local volunteers can help residents develop trap-neuter-release programs to stop the growth of the colony and foster any cats that have a chance at being socialized and rehomed.