Pet cat survives rifle shot
When Johannesburg resident Helen Maritz bought a cat, her biggest concern was making sure her husband and son didn't suffer from allergies. She went out of her way to find a Siberian forest cat, which is said to be less likely than other breeds to cause an allergic reaction in humans.
It never crossed her mind that Duke would one day be shot.
Tracking down a breeder, the family waited 18 months for Duke to be born and mature enough to be flown from Cape Town to Johannesburg.
Duke cost R5000 - which Maritz called an "obscene" amount - but he was worth it, even winning the favour of Maritz's husband, Corrie, "who is not a cat person" .
Duke was shot on Wednesday afternoon with a .22 rifle - though it is not known by whom.
Corrie heard a bang but when he saw Duke running through the garden he thought the cat had been scared by a firework. But Duke was in bad shape - bleeding and vomiting - and Corrie rushed him to a vet.
Veterinarian Cliff Meyer said the bullet "entered Duke on the right, damaged the lung lobe, traumatised the lobe of the liver, nicked the stomach wall and the pancreas, split the spleen and then lodged on the cat's left chest wall".
He added: "I had to work fast because I had a kitty under anaesthetic".
Meyer said he has not seen a cat shot with anything other than a pellet gun in at least 15 years.
"It is the worst case I have seen in years," he said, adding that Duke was lucky to have survived.
He said Duke had been shot at close range and from above - the bullet had followed a downward trajectory.
Cats shot by pellet guns are most often the victims of neighbours who keep pigeons or other birds on which the cats prey, Meyer said.
"You just shouldn't have to worry about your pet's safety," Maritz said.
"My daughter couldn't sleep last night," she said, adding that Duke was a friendly cat who, like a dog, wagged his tail when he was happy.
Duke might be able to go home this weekend, depending on how quickly he recovers from his operation.
Maritz went to the police station yesterday afternoon to lay a charge of malicious damage to property.