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Taranaki vet has slammed the actions of a person who shot a cat in the nose with a slug gun.

Barney the cat was taken to the vet for a case of the sniffles, but when antibiotics failed to work, Barney was x-rayed and a slug gun pellet was found lodged in his nose, the Taranaki Daily News reported.

Taranaki Veterinary Centre vet Pauline Calvert said the cat would have been in extreme pain and it was a severe form of animal cruelty.

"I know that sometimes animals can be in the wrong place and get hit, but the last three cats I've seen have been shot in the head," she said.

"It's a disgusting and cruel thing to occur."

Drew Rennie, one of Barney's owners, said he suspected his cat had been shot at close range because there was no entry wound.

"Basically I think someone has got a gun for Christmas and haven't been taught the appropriate time or place to use it."

The behaviour was worrying, Mr Rennie said, particularly if the gun was in the hands of children.

"This kind of thing leads to psychotic behaviour in adults."

Mr Rennie said he has spoken to neighbours to warn them about the possibility of this happening to their cats and he has spoken to the police.

"I've told them what happened and they said it was a nasty thing to happen, but there's not much they can do about it."