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Cat-loving neighborhood plagued by feline shooter
cat sign pic
The Watling family tried to shame the person who shot three pellets into their cat by placing a sign in their front yard. - photo by SABRA STAFFORD / The Journal

Owen, an orange tabby, may have begrudgingly surrendered one of his nine lives, but the Watling family is just happy to have him home again after finding him shot several times with a pellet gun.

The wanton injury of the family feline prompted Jack Watling to post a sign on his lawn asking who had done such a callous act. The result of the sign has yet to lead to the culprit, but it has made the El Camino Drive neighbors aware that Owen wasn’t the only cat to meet with misfortune.

“We started to compare notes and found quite a few neighbors have had cats go missing, die unexpectedly and show up shot with pellets,” Jack Watling said.

Denice Watling describes Owen as a feisty but sweet cat who make his home both in and outdoors. So, it wasn’t unusual for a day to pass without spotting Owen, but when one day turned into two and then three, the family was worried something bad had happened to their cat of nine years.

By the fourth day the family launched an all out hunt of the neighborhood, which led them to find Owen under a blanket of shrubbery.

“He was non responsive and wouldn’t take any food or water, so we took him to the vet,” Denice Watling said.

An x-ray showed three pellets in Owen’s two front paws. Upon further examination, a fourth pellet was found in his stomach.

“The vet said the one in his stomach had probably been there for a while because scar tissue had formed over it,” Denice Watling said.

Removing the pellets, which were likely fired from a rapid fire pellet gun, would cause more damage, so the decision was made to leave them in and see how the cat would respond to treatment. Owen’s prognosis looked grim, but this good-natured cat wasn’t ready to give up the fight.

“We were blessed we got him in when we did, or he wouldn’t be back here at home with us now,” Denice Watling said.

Incensed by the incident, Jack Watling posted the large sign in his yard.

“It goes against my whole grain, but I wanted to let people know what was going on in our neighborhood,” Jack Watling said.

That was when the family learned they weren’t the first to have a cat injured by a mysterious shooter.

No suspects have been identified in the case. If a shooter is apprehended they would likely face charges of discharging a firearm in the city limits and animal cruelty, said Turlock Animal Control Services Supervisor Glena Jackson.

“We found out this has been going on for a few years,” Jack Watling said. “We may not catch the person doing this, but we have raised the awareness in the neighborhood. Hopefully, moral consciousness will prevail and we won’t have another cat shot.”