MONTHS after moving into their new home a family was horrified when their cat was shot.

Thirteen-year-old tom Sam has been left with five inches of stitches after a £650 operation to remove an air rifle pellet from his stomach.

Now his owners want to warn their new neighbours to watch out for the “heartless idiot” who carried out the attack.

Liam and Stephanie Richards moved to East Hendred in December with their two-year-old daughter Matilda and their two cats, Mo and Sam. But on Sunday morning Sam went missing.

After hours of searching the family found him lying in their neighbour’s garden.

After an X-ray at the vets they were told he had been shot with an air rifle. His gut had been perforated in four places.

Mr Richards, 40, said: “Given the amount of cats who live on White Road we wanted our neighbours to be aware that some heartless, senseless idiot is taking it upon themselves to harm defenceless and harmless pets.”

Mr Richards added: “There is no way it was our neighbours, they are fantastic. We are still looking for whoever did this.”

Mrs Richards, 37, said they now worried about letting the cats out.

Thames Valley Police said it had received a report of the incident.

RSPCA spokesman Calie Rydings said: “Attacks on cats make up almost half of all air gun-related injuries, and deaths reported.”