A Papamoa cat has been shot with an air rifle and a local vet says it is common to find cats and dogs have been used for target practice.
Family pet Tigger was this week nursing two pellet wounds.
One pellet went into his abdomen and the other struck close to his lungs, lodging in his shoulder.
He was found lying in his yard after crawling home.
Owner Leslie Welch thought Tigger had been hit by a car.
"He went missing and I couldn't find him. I went searching and when I did see him I thought he'd been bowled.
He'd obviously come back home to lie down. He was responsive but couldn't get up. I went to pick him up, but he was in a lot of pain."
Ms Welch took the 9-year-old cat to the Beach Rd Vet Clinic and was horrified to learn someone had shot him.
"It was a shock and a bit unreal. The x-rays showed a pellet still lodged in him.
"I couldn't believe anyone would use a cat as target practice. It was deliberate and pretty mean. After the first shot he would have been scampering. My kids were pretty upset when they heard," she said.
Tigger, a well-known local at the far end of Papamoa Beach Rd, was described as a laidback character who liked to explore, sun himself on shade netting over a pergola, and was friendly with with pet rats and even dogs.
"Tigger doesn't stray too far and it has to be someone local," Ms Welch said.
"Luckily the shots didn't hit any internal organs, but they just missed his lungs."
Once back from the vet's, Tigger just wanted to snooze under the watchful ministrations of the Welch children Annie, 17, Elijah, 14, and Bastien, 11.
Dr Brett Kirkland of Beach Rd Vet Clinic said Tigger was a very lucky cat as the pellet had not hit his lungs. "He was saved by his shoulder blade.
"Tigger came in pretty sore, but has made a remarkable recovery."
Dr Kirkland said animals being shot with air rifles was a common occurrence. "We will be doing an x-ray for a broken leg and will find air rifle pellets."
He would see about a dozen shot animals a year, but they "are just the ones who make it here".
Tauranga police senior sergeant Rob Glencross said it was illegal to cause unnecessary harm or suffering to an animal and those who did so could be prosecuted in a court of law.
. "Stupid behaviour is one word for it," he said.
If you have any information about Tigger's shooting contact Papamoa police on 572-2440, the Bay of Plenty Times on 5777770 or email email@example.com.