An unknown animal attacker captured or trapped a Cheyenne family's cat last week, riddled him with 19 airsoft pellets and left him to bleed and cry more than 2 miles from home.
“Whoever it was (who) shot him, seriously injured but didn’t kill him, and left him there to suffer and die,” Janice Lee, the cat’s owner, told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday. “That shows me someone is enjoying the torture part of it.”
In her own Thursday interview, Cheyenne Animal Control Officer Kelly Nguyen agreed that the case evidence suggests the motive for the attack was torture. She called it “horrifying.”
Walter is a 4-year-old grey shorthair. He was found bleeding and injured around the Greenway near Rawlins Street in Cheyenne, which is 2 miles from his home. Two miles is outside typical cat roaming distance, Lee noted.
He went missing last Friday, and Lee said she and her family searched for him.
“We looked for him squashed in the street. We thought maybe a fox had gotten him,” said Lee. “It never occurred to me maybe someone took him and trapped him and tortured him.”
Walter is extremely friendly. Both Lee and Nguyen said it wouldn't take much for someone to grab him.
“Probably someone just said ‘here, kitty-kitty,’ and he probably went right on over,” said Lee.
Lee said the concentration of 19 pellets on his face, including one that struck and ruined his left eye, suggest that Walter was trapped during the shooting.
People will shoot nuisance cats on their land with the occasional pellet, said Nguyen. But it’s rare to find a cat with 19 pellets in its body.
Nguyen said she’s grateful for the woman who called in the cat as injured. The woman stayed with Walter while waiting for animal control, and said she would adopt him if no one came for him.
The Cheyenne Animal Shelter took charge of the cat after that, performed an X-ray on him and discovered the pellets.
Lee didn’t recognize Walter when he first showed up on the shelter’s online page, she said, so it took her a while to connect the dots. She got Walter back Monday, and he’s home now recovering.
But a veterinarian told Lee that it would be unsafe to take the pellets out of Walter’s body. He’ll live out the rest of his life with the ammunition still inside of him, she said.
Nguyen noted she’d seen social media chatter suggesting this wasn’t the first recent occurrence of cat torture in Cheyenne, but it’s the only one reported to Cheyenne Animal Control in at least the past two years.
Lee said she saw two posts on a ring neighborhood, which is a regional social media forum.
In one of those posts, a resident said a local cat had sustained 19 shots to the face with a pellet gun, but 37 more pellets littered the area. The concentration of shots suggested that the cat was trapped or caged during the shooting, the post says.
“This isn’t a prank,” said Lee of Walter’s incident and the other incident from the post. “Two cats were seriously injured. The person is not going to stop until they’re caught.”
Lee called out for Cheyenne residents to band together on social media to find the torturer, and to address troubling signposts of mental illness.
“Research shows that people who torture animals move on to hurting people,” she said. “I think that’s really important (to note), because sometimes people think ‘boys will be boys,’ or ‘kids will be kids.’ And this is not that.”
In her own social media post, Lee said someone is hunting and torturing cats, and is likely to do it again.
“SOMEONE. KNOWS. WHO. THIS IS,” Lee emphasized in the post.
Finding someone who knows who the shooter could be is going to be Nguyen’s best chance at a breakthrough in the investigation at this point, the officer told Cowboy State Daily.
A neighbor in the area said she heard a commotion Friday morning, like screaming, Nguyen recalled.
“When cats scream they sound like children screaming,” she added. “It might have happened right there.”
Unfortunately, that resident does not have cameras.
While the report of screaming was “something,” it doesn’t lend a lot of investigative headway: coyotes also roam that area, Nguyen noted.
Lee’s post encourages the suspect, if he or she is reading it, to seek help.
“If your child has a pellet gun, ask who he/she shoots with,” the post continues. “If they seem uneasy, question further and call Animal Control if they know something.”
People and their children should stay attuned to “gossip about this” and should call Animal Control with any concerns, Lee wrote.
“Animal cruelty is heartbreaking. AND A CRIME,” the post reads. “Please help find whoever did this as their mental health is in crisis.”
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.