Police are hunting a sick gunman who carried out an 'execution' style killing of one cat and shot another in the backside.

Both animals were shot at close range during the attacks on a Cleveland housing estate.

One attack, described by a local vet as an execution, saw one cat die after it was shot in the back of its neck. The 18-month-old long-haired, black and white cat, called Fluffy, was found by owner Lucy Spoor lying on the ground near the French windows of her home in Caldey Gardens, Ingleby Barwick, on Wednesday, June 26.

It was still clinging to life, but despite intensive treatment by a veterinary surgeon, died from extensive bone and tissue damage. It is now buried in the family's garden.

The second attack, which took place over the weekend, was on a nine-month-old kitten called Dec. It was shot in the rear hind quarter near the home of its owner, Adam Woodland, of Florence Court, Ingleby Barwick.

Mr Woodland said: "They say it was either a very, very powerful gun or he was shot at point blank range.

"Whoever did this clearly has no brains. Thankfully Dec shouldn't be permanently damaged, but I would still like to get my hands on the guilty person."

Police say the attacks were almost certainly carried out by the same gunman.

PC Kevin Stockley is appealing for help in tracing the attacker. He said: "It is sad but there is a sick person out there who has deliberately targeted these cats.

"Both have been shot with a .22 air weapon. In Fluffy's case we think someone may have held it down as it was shot in the neck.

"It was shot at very close range and suffered. Dec, the other cat, was also shot at close range."

Only two reports of shot cats have been received by police but it's thought that other pets that have disappeared in the area could have fallen victim to the gunman.

Anyone with information on the attacks is asked to contact officers at Thornaby police station between 8am and 10pm on 01642 302810.