Idaho Pet Cat Shot With Pellet Gun in Eye, Police Searching for Suspect

Idaho police are looking for a suspect after a couple's pet cat was shot directly in her eyeball, local media has reported.

Distraught owners Amy and Michael Nelson said their cat Mystic, who has been left permanently blind in that eye, came home on Monday, March 21, limping, meowing loudly, and covered in blood.

Amy Nelson, of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, told local news channel KHQ her pet's eye was hanging out. "It was half out, and black," she said.

Her husband added: "I look down and see her face just full of blood. I grabbed her, looked, and her eye was black. She had beautiful green eyes, and this eye was dead."

A cat undergoing veterinary treatment
A cat undergoing veterinary treatment. Family cat Mystic has been left permanently blind in one eye. Getty Images

Vets were unable to save Mystic's eye and it had to be removed during surgery.

While operating, surgeons discovered a small red pellet lodged in the eyeball, and told the Nelsons that Mystic had been shot.

"It looks like it was intentionally to maim, and do some damage," Michael Nelson told KHQ.

His wife added she was left "sobbing hysterically for hours," revealing: "I couldn't believe somebody could be so cruel to such a beautiful animal... It's just so cruel that people think it's okay to treat animals this way, when our pets are so defenseless."

The Coeur d'Alene Police Department told KHQ they are taking the case very seriously, but do not yet have a suspect. Detectives have taken the red pellet found in Mystic's eye into evidence. They appealed for anyone with information to get in touch.

The pair had adopted Mystic by rescuing her as a stray when they noticed the black-and-white cat visiting their backyard in 2021.

"She's just been our little love ever since we found her," Amy said.

"Or she found us," Michael pointed out.

Mystic used to enjoy heading outside for the most of the day after breakfast. "Kind of like she was going to work," Amy said.

But now the couple must help their disabled cat adjust to life after losing her sight on one side. She is currently wearing a cone over her head to stop her from rubbing her eye and dislodging the stiches.

A cat undergoing veterinary treatment
A vet treats a sick cat. Another cat in Idaho was shot in the eye. Getty Images

The Nelsons said their neighbors have no problems with Mystic, and were shocked to hear about the attack.

Amy Nelson said if a homeowner had a problem with Mystic being on their property, they could have called to discuss the issue because her phone number is on the cat's collar.

Animal cruelty is a misdemeanor in Idaho, and does not become a felony until a person's third offense, according to Idaho State Code.

That's something the Nelsons hope to see changed. Amy Nelson said animals are "defenseless" and therefore "we really need to be advocates and stick up for them now."

In November 2019, a bipartisan initiative became a new law under then President Donald Trump—making certain cases of cruelty to animals a federal crime.

The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act (PACT) bans "animal crushing" defined as "conduct in which one or more living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians is purposely crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury."

It adds: "Nothing in this section shall be construed to pre-empt the law of any State or local subdivision thereof to protect animals."

Animal rights activists had argued a federal law was crucial, despite each state already having its own animal cruelty laws, to make it easier to prosecute animal abuse cases that span different states.

Newsweek has contacted Coeur d'Alene detectives for further information.