A PET cat cheated death after an air rifle pellet narrowly missed its heart and lungs.

The cat, called Preston, was in agony for up to two hours after being shot near his home in The Hill, Winchmore Hill, before being discovered by his distraught owners.

The RSPCA has today launched an appeal for information after the shooting, which took place some time between 5-6pm on Tuesday September 13.

Preston's owner Kerri Parker said she and partner Martin Curran returned home at 8pm to find him lying on the bed. He was breathing very quickly and did not want to be touched.

They immediately took him to the vets and he was x-rayed, which revealed that he had been shot with an air rifle and that the pellet had become lodged between his heart and lungs.

It was decided that it would be too dangerous to remove the pellet and Preston was given a course of treatment and released three days later.

Miss Parker said: “We just could not believe that someone would do this to an innocent animal and we are so very lucky that Preston survived.

“He is such a popular cat and everyone in the neighbourhood knows him, he is a real character, and I just can’t believe that someone shot him. I just hope that whoever has done this will get caught.

"We also heard that just two weeks before a neighbour’s cat had been covered in petrol so we are really worried.”

RSPCA inspector Rachel Smith, who is investigating the incident, said: “Poor Preston is very lucky to have survived. We are extremely concerned by this incident.

"It is absolutely vital that if anyone saw anything suspicious or knows of anyone shooting at animals in the area that they come forward with information. People cannot be allowed to get away with causing such awful injuries.”

Those found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal can face a maximum six-month prison sentence, and/or a £20,000 fine.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.