Published: 11:17, 23 February 2021
| Updated: 15:49, 23 February 2021
A rescue cat has been left with a shattered nose and a hole in its face after being hit with a catapulted ball bearing.
Mum Jessica Wallis, of Oak Tree Road, South Ashford, wants to share the plight of her cat Trousers to make other owners more vigilant.
The attack has led to debilitating health issues and a hefty vet bill, with very little hope of catching the culprits.
On Friday night, Miss Wallis was watching TV with her partner and their baby when they heard the six-year-old cat sneeze.
"It sounded really bizarre and I looked down," the 26-year-old carer recalled.
"When he turned to me he had this hole in his face. It had blood coming out of it and his nose was squashed.
"I was beside myself - because of the injury I knew instantly that it wasn't another cat that had attacked him as the wound was so neat."
Feeling sick and bursting into tears, the pair rushed Trousers to the vet where they confirmed he had been attacked with a ball bearing that somebody had catapulted at his face.
The out-of-hours vet trip, overnight stay and surgery to remove the ball bearing cost the couple £2,000 in vet bills - a sum which she's not sure will be covered by their insurance.
Miss Wallis said: "It shattered the right side of his nose and he obviously has a hole in the side of his face.
"He's now got a squashed face and sounds like a train when he breathes.
"What they've done is just absolutely disgusting.
"He could have lost his life for absolutely no reason, and now we're thousands of pounds out of pocket and have a cat that - while we're glad he's alive and home - is not the same and never will be."
Police confirmed the incident has been reported, and asked anyone with information to call them on 01843 222289, quoting reference 46/28592/21.
Miss Wallis has since posted about the incident on social media, hoping to raise awareness of the threat of catapults.
Catapult crime occurs across Kent, but is particularly prevalent in Ashford.
It is the catapult crime capital of Kent, with figures far above those of other areas.
In 2019, there were 41 reports of catapult-related crimes in the town which constitutes almost a third of the 153 reports in the county.
In distant second place that year was Maidstone with 26 reports, followed by Sevenoaks at 14.
Catapults are legal to purchase, and can be carried anywhere unless the owner has an intent to cause injury.
A cyclist also suffered a serious cut to the face after being hit by a catapulted projectile in 2018.
There have also been harrowing stories of drivers being targeted by ball bearing attacks, some with their children in the car.