A kitten who was not expected to survive the night after being shot through the head with an air rifle has been adopted by the vet who saved his life.
The young cat, who had been named Pirate, needed emergency surgery after being found on an allotment in Wingate, County Durham, having been shot four times with an air rifle.
Now on the road to recovery, he has been taken in by vet Lucie McKenzie, who performed life-saving emergency surgery on the kitten.
She said: “He is a firm part of the family and will have a home with me for the rest of his life.”
Pirate had a serious eye injury and a maggot-infested wound on his neck when he was picked up by Ms McKenzie, who was alerted by concerned residents after they spotted him in a hen house.
She said: “A bullet had gone right through his eye and come out at the top of his skull, leaving it fractured.”
The kitten, who was believed to be around eight weeks old when found, could not stand and was not expected to survive the night.
Ms McKenzie, who works at Westway Vets in Consett, performed the operation to remove the damaged eye and extract the pellets.
“The surgery was so delicate because he is so small and there is a risk of his body temperature dropping,” she said. “Taking an eye is difficult and there was also a worry the maggots in the wounds would cause infection.
“The biggest fear was removing the bullet from the top of his skull. We didn’t know if he would wake up with brain damage.
“He lost one eye and couldn’t see out of the other one after the surgery but, luckily, he has regained sight.”
Pirate is now living with Ms McKenzie in Sedgefield along with her other rescue pets, including three dogs and two other cats.
She said: “The night after the operation, Pirate was tucking into his dinner and, within five days, he was running around.
“He couldn’t stand and was very wobbly when I first found him because he was so badly injured and weak.”