A KITTEN has been left with a airgun pellet permanently lodged in his skull after being shot three times.

Nine-month-old Tic had an eye removed and underwent three life-saving operations after an ordeal which vets described as “one of the cruellest cases” they have ever seen.

The black and white kitten is now recovering at home in Delves Lane, near Consett.

Tic went missing for two days, but staggered home with severe head and eye injuries and owners Claire and Stephen Morgan rushed him to Prince Bishop Veterinary Hospital in Leadgate.

X-rays showed airgun pellets lodged in his skull, behind his ear and in his abdomen.

Vets were able to remove two pellets, but had to cut away part of his intestine due to the extent of the damage, and he later returned to have an eye removed as it wouldn’t heal.

But a third pellet in his skull cannot be removed because it is in such a delicate area, although it is not expected to cause any problems.

Vet Dr Emma Hindson said: “Tic has been very lucky and we expect him to make a full recovery even though he has been shot three times and undergone major surgery.

“He is a very sweet cat and we can’t understand why someone would shoot an animal. To shoot him three times is just horrifying.

“Cats will normally flee if they are under threat, so he must have been shot three times in quick succession or he was unable to move after the first shot and they have fired two more pellets at him while he was immobile”.

She added: “It is one of the cruellest cases we have seen, but he is very fortunate to have such caring owners.”

Claire Morgan said: “We are both furious and incredibly sad, but just happy that he is alive.

“The pellets had points on them so they were designed to kill – and three shots is like an assassination”.

It isn’t the first time that Tic has had a lucky escape in his short life having been found abandoned with his twin, Tac, in a tyre after his mother was eaten by a fox.

Both were taken in by Mr and Mrs Morgan who were living in the Middle East and brought them back to Britain in June.