The SPCA believes a group of teenagers are behind a spate of cat shootings in Whangarei and have urged parents to take note before the situation turns more sinister.
As more pet owners come forward with complaints of slug guns being used on their cats, police have appealed to the public for information that could lead to arrests.
Onerahi police constable Spence Penney said complaints alone were not sufficient because there were no leads to start an investigation. At least half a dozen residents from Onerahi and Maunu have complained about cruelty to their cats but only a couple have gone to police.
SPCA chief executive Robyn Kippenberger said slug guns were mostly used by young people.
"The likelihood of these guns killing the cats is low but the likelihood of a prolonged death is high.
"Parents need to be very clear that this (shooting) is against the law.
"Even if you're under 16, we'll proceed (with charges) against you," she warned.
Ms Kippenberger said both the animal welfare legislation and Firearms Act came into play if those responsible for the shootings were caught.
Slug guns were not appropriate weapons with which to kill an animal larger than a mouse.
"A group of kids are doing this and people will know, parents will know and apart from being anti-social behaviour, their actions are against the law."
She said research had proven that those who ill-treat animals displayed a similar behaviour against humans later in life.
Onerahi resident Sybil Strude had her 3-year-old female cat named Mihi was shot at but luckily it survived.
The incident happened about three months ago and her husband William reported the matter to police as he was worried about kids in the area near where the slug gun was used.
The pellet shot through the side of the cat's stomach. A veterinarian said luckily the pellet didn't pierce the cat's vital organs.
"Goodness knows where and why it happened and there are a lot of kids in this area," the Raurimu Ave resident said.
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