Kitten shot with air rifle in Haywards Heath: family shocked after adorable Fred suffers broken leg

A family from Haywards Heath were left in shock after their six-month-old kitten was shot with an air rifle.

Tuesday, 2nd November 2021, 4:52 pm

The adorable soft grey feline Fred, of Acre Close, suffered a broken leg and still has the gun’s pellet inside him.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said owner Dan Neve, 41, who was outraged someone would want to shoot a cat.

“He’s only a little kitten.”

Fred, a six-month-old kitten from Haywards Heath, was injured by an air rifle. Picture: Dan Neve.

Dan said the incident happened while he was on holiday in Selsey with his wife Donna, 41, and their three boys.

Donna’s mother and father were feeding Fred and his sister Dusty while they were away for a week from Friday (October 22).

“On the Saturday morning they went round and fed the cats and they were fine,” said Dan.

But when Donna’s mum and dad were there on Saturday evening Dusty came home for dinner but Fred did not.

Fred, a six-month-old kitten from Haywards Heath, was injured by an air rifle. Picture: Dan Neve.

“That’s not like him at all,” said Dan.

Dan’s inlaws looked for Fred in the streets and after an unsuccessful search they phoned the family.

They called again on Sunday morning to say that Fred still had not returned and Dan drove home to help.

“I found him pretty quickly,” said Dan, who discovered Fred hiding on their shed roof under some branches.

Fred, a six-month-old kitten from Haywards Heath, hiding on a shed roof after being injured by an air rifle. Picture: Dan Neve.

“He couldn’t move, he couldn’t stand up, he couldn’t do anything,” Dan said, adding that he tried to tempt Fred down with his favourite treats.

Dan then got a ladder and climbed on the roof to retrieve the distressed animal.

“I picked him up and I saw straight away that he didn’t want me holding him,” said Dan, who saw that Fred was scared and in pain and that his back legs had gone limp.

But he got Fred into a carrier and took him to The Vets at Burgess Hill Within Pets at Home, where an X-ray revealed Fred had been shot with an air rifle.

Fred, a six-month-old kitten from Haywards Heath, was injured by an air rifle. Picture: Dan Neve.

“We had to sit down,” said Dan. “We were in utter shock.”

The vets were shocked too, he said, and they carried out a full X-ray to see the exact damage.

On Monday night the vets phoned the family to say that Fred needed a £1,853 operation on Tuesday to pin his broken leg together.

Dan and Donna did not have the money so they borrowed from friends and family who rallied round to help.

They then wrote a post on Facebook to warn other pet owners in the area about the danger to their animals.

The Neve family also put up a JustGiving page to help them pay for the surgery.

Fred, a six-month-old kitten from Haywards Heath, was injured by an air rifle. Picture: Dan Neve.

“What we’ve set up is just literally for the operation,” said Dan, adding that Fred will need after care too.

“We could be looking at a bill of near £3,000,” he said.

But, Dan said the fundraiser is over 76 per cent towards its £1,850 target and he is ‘overwhelmed’ that so many people have donated already.

Fred has now had the operation and seems to be ‘on the mend’, said Dan.

However, he said the pellet could not be removed because it is too close to Fred’s bladder and trying to take it out would risk further injury.

Fred also has a muscle damage in his leg and is not allowed out of a special cage until his bone heals properly.

“Basically he can’t be a cat for six weeks,” Dan said.

He added that Fred is ‘miserable’ at the moment and is not even allowed to jump off of a sofa during his recovery.

“He’s just sitting in a cage like an animal at a zoo – it’s horrible,” said Dan.

“It’s heartbreaking to see my little adorable kitten who’s so bubbly and wants fuss and affection, headbutt kisses and things like that, he’s just sitting in a cage and there’s nothing you can do.”

“You’ve just got to leave it and give him all the fuss that you can,” he said.

Dan has informed the police about the incident and said he would like the person responsible to come forward.

A Sussex Police spokesperson said: “Police received a report on Sunday 24 October from a cat owner reporting that he had found his cat injured in Acre Close, Haywards Heath.”

“The cat had been taken to a vet, who believed the animal had been shot at with an air rifle,” they said.

“The incident is believed to have happened sometime between Friday evening (22 October) and 4.30pm on Sunday (24 October) while the owners were away.

“Any witnesses or anyone with information is asked to report online or ring 101 quoting serial 923 of 24/10.”

To donate to Dan and Donna’s JustGiving page visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/donna-neve.

Fred, a six-month-old kitten from Haywards Heath, was injured by an air rifle. Picture: Dan Neve.