It is common for family pets to be used as target practice, according to a vet who has just patched up a cat shot with an air rifle.
Tigger, the much-loved pet of a Papamoa family, is nursing two pellet wounds in his stomach.
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.
Ms Welch took the 9-year-old cat to the vet and was horrified to learn that someone had shot 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 laid back 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.
Brett Kirkland of Beach Rd Vet Clinic said Tigger was lucky as the pellet had not hit his lungs.
"He was saved by his shoulder blade."
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 saw about a dozen shot animals a year but they "are just the ones who make it here".
Some owners wouldn't know their pets had been shot as they may just find them dead, he said.
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.
"Stupid behaviour is one word for it," he said.
For more articles from this region, go to Bay of Plenty Times