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The attack on Billy left the cat requiring a wire in its jaw. Photograph: Kelly MacArthur

A suspected attack on a cat in Leurbost that left the pet requiring a wire to be inserted into its jaw has drawn strong condemnation, with users on social media describing the event as 'heartbreaking', 'horrendous', and 'sick'.

The injuries inflicted on Billy, a two year old ginger tom, on Sunday November 26 have also prompted other cat owners in the area to note similar signs of cruelty upon their own pets, including at least one that passed away.

Kelly MacArthur said her family was just about to have dinner on Sunday when Billy, who is owned by her son, returned home with disturbing damage to his face.

“I could tell something was wrong. His jaw: one bit was here, and one bit was here.

“I took him to the vet. He said it was more than likely he was kicked in the face or hit in the face with something like a shovel. But more likely kicked due to his injuries.”

Initially Kelly feared Billy would have to be put down. While that has been avoided, Billy’s injuries mean he will require a liquid diet for eight weeks as well as pain medication and the wire in its jaw. There are likely to be significant on-going vets bills.

Kelly also said she is reticent to let Billy go out even after he has healed.

She added that the likely attack on Billy had been emotionally difficult for her son, and anyone with knowledge of the attack should come forward.

"My wee boy was there when he came home. He was upset and is still worried," she said.

“I don’t want to happen to anyone else. People need to be aware.

“Somebody must know, so if someone does know please report it."

News of the attack on Billy brought other potential cases of animal cruelty in the area to light.

Hilary Heggie also believed her cat Boodle was attacked last November, with the injuries suffered by her pet ultimately leading to its death.

She initially thought the cat had been hurt by a human because the injuries did not resemble something a car would do, but considered such an act unlikely. However, after reading Kelly's online account of Billy's injuries she now believes Boodle suffered a similar attack of 'unbelievable cruelty'.

Describing that incident, she wrote of the cat's lack of balance and inability to settle from a clear head injury.

"It was heartbreaking watching him clearly in so much pain. Me, my husband and two daughters tried to make him as comfortable as possible but over the next half hour or so he slowly slipped away from us. It was utterly heartbreaking to see him like this and I'll never forget the cries he was making."

Izzy Docherty believes her elderly cat Gizmo was attacked earlier this year after it returned home bleeding from the mouth, with one bottom canine tooth broken and another hanging by the gum. 

"Gizmo is 16 and a very trusting boy, he will approach anyone if they call to him and this time it would appear to be to his detriment," she said.

"He has since healed up, involuntarily drools now, and has adapted to eating but we keep him indoors now.

"It is a sick individual or individuals who are hurting innocent animals, they need to be reprimanded. If they can hurt animals with such ease how long until it’s people." 

Billy is now recovering at home, with Kelly uncertain about allowing him out again. Photograph: Kelly MacArthur

Whilst the attack on Billy has been traumatic, Kelly says there has been some positivity in the support and concern shown by many people who have reached out to her.

“A lot of people have sent well wishes. People have been generous and kind. It has been amazing how people have rallied around. My faith in humanity has been restored.

"Thank you to everyone who has sent donations to help pay for the vet, and those who sent gifts.”

Following the suspected attack, Western Isles Support for Cats and Kittens (WISCK), the charity from which the MacArthur family got Billy and fellow cat Cassie, issued a statement:

"At WISCK our foremost concern is always the welfare and well-being of cats and kittens here in the Western Isles. We are deeply saddened and appalled by the recent incident involving Billy, a cat we had the privilege to rescue and rehome.

"Such acts of cruelty are utterly abhorrent and have no place in our community. We strongly encourage anyone with information about this incident, or any similar acts, to come forward and report it to the relevant authorities.

"The outpouring of support for Billy is a testament to the compassion and strength of our community. Together, let's continue to be vigilant and work towards a world where every animal is treated with the kindness and respect they deserve."