Bill and Penelope de Boer with Jemima, who a vet discovered had been shot. PHOTO/HAYLEY GASTMEIER

HAYLEY GASTMEIER
hayley.gastmeier@age.co.nz

Half a dozen missing cats over just as many years had a South Wairarapa couple scratching their heads.

But now that their seventh missing cat has returned home with a gunshot wound, they fear something sinister has been going on.

Penelope and Bill de Boer were relieved but concerned when their pet Jemima returned home last Friday after a 10-day disappearing act, dragging her front, right paw.

The Martinborough couple took the cat to the vet, who discovered by x-ray entry and exit wounds that had healed over.

The micro-chip originally in the cat’s neck was lodged under its front leg.

“She was shot front on – how it missed everything I have no idea,” Mr de Boer said.

He added he was surprised the animal had survived.

The couple reported the shooting to police, who have confirmed they are investigating.

Mrs de Boer said Jemima was shot through her sternum, just under the chin.

“She may well have to have her front leg amputated as the bullet destroyed all the nerves involved in walking.”

However, the three-year-old tortoiseshell seems unfazed by her injury, with her owners saying she’s as active and affectionate as ever.

The de Boers are clearly animal lovers and over the years, have adopted many cats from the SPCA.

There are about 144 animals on their 2.4ha farm, where they run educational tours, including explaining to youngsters where their food comes from.

The livestock figure is “not counting the ducks nor the four visiting piglets”, but does include many hens.

Both work fulltime, declaring they can’t retire because of the recurring vet and animal feed bills.

Mrs de Boer said she and her husband suspected their pet cats were being shot after hearing two gun shots on New Year’s Day in 2014.

“After that, two of our cats never came home.”

The pair “felt sick” at the thought their other missing cats that had “just disappeared” had been shot and left for dead.

“It’s sad that in such an environment as this that we are finding animals are being shot, especially domestic animals,” she said.

“Shooting cats is one thing, but leaving an animal to die inhumanly is just not on,” Mr de Boer said.

A keen hunter, he suspects an air riffle was used to shoot Jemima because they heard no shots.

The couple live on a private driveway that is surrounded by 11 properties.

“The other neighbours we have spoken to are somewhat distressed that this happened in our small community,” Mrs de Boer said.

On the vet’s advice, Jemima is reluctantly cage-bound to rest until she heads back to Vetcare in Masterton for laser treatment and physiotherapy.

If this treatment is successful, the young cat may keep her leg.