A shotgun attack left a family pet fighting for its life with more than 50 pellets peppering its body.

An X-ray showing the injuries Tabitha suffered.An X-ray showing the injuries Tabitha suffered.

Police are investigating the attack in Tilbrook in which Tabitha, a two-year-old British shorthair silver tabby, was shot.

Paul Milson, 45, of Station Road, Tilbrook, a director of a carpet and ­flooring company, said shots were fired just before the cat returned home over the garden fence seriously injured between 3.30pm and 3.45pm last Thursday.

He thinks she was targeted while either in a neighbouring garden or the fields at the back of his property.

He said: "She collapsed on the floor when she got back in. We thought she had been attacked by a dog or a fox, but it was low-level shots with a shotgun from about 40 yards away. Whoever did it intended to kill the cat.

"The vets can't believe she's alive - the shot didn't actually go into any major organs - and said it was horrific. They have never seen injuries like it."

Tabitha was taken to the Huntingdon branch of The Cromwell Veterinary Group, where she received treatment before a few hours later being taken to veterinary specialists Dick White Referrals, in Six Mile Bottom, near Newmarket. She had to have a blood transfusion to save her life.

Mr Milson said: "The vets said 'You can put her down or try to get her to Newmarket'. She was that close to not surviving.

"We thought 'If she's strong enough to get back home we have got to give her a chance'.

"We just want people to be aware that someone in a residential area is prepared to fire a shotgun where children and animals go. It's not acceptable."

The family - Paul's wife Tina, 45, and children Tilly-Mae, six, and Daniel, nine - were reunited with their pet yesterday (Tuesday). They were told that she had also been shot with an air gun pellet. They think their other cat, two-year-old silver tabby Jinxy, may also have been shot with a pellet recently.

Mr Milson said: "We are hoping we can have her back to pretty much full fitness, but she might be left with a limp. Our cats are like our children - we love them like family members."

He is expecting a vet's bill running into thousands of pounds.

INFORMATION: Call police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.