SICK thugs cornered a Timperley family's beloved pet cat - and repeatedly shot him.
It is believed eleven-month-old Trouble was shot after being lured into a trap by someone who put out food for him.
The moggie was shot at least nine times. Six air rifle pellets were found embedded in him - in his skull, spine, left leg, back and stomach - and there were other wounds from shots that 'winged' him.
Miraculously, Trouble survived his ordeal and is recovering.
The experienced vet who treated him said it was the worst case of its type he has dealt with.
And his owners, Dathan, aged 33, and Sarah Steel, 34, are sickened at what has happened to their pet - and want to warn other families to be on their guard.
This was a callous and senseless act on a defenceless animalInsp Clark Bowers, of Altrincham Police
Despite his wounds, Trouble managed to get home and the family found him covered in blood hiding behind the TV in their lounge, on February 27.
At first they thought he had been mauled by a fox, and only realised he had been shot after taking him to the vets.
Vet Rob Davies, of Companion Care in Stockport, said the culprits must have trapped him to get that many shots at him.
Scraps of wet cat food were on his collar and fur - which it is believed they used to lure Trouble to them.
Vet Mr Davies, who has 12 years' experience, said: "This is the worst case of shooting I have seen because there were so many pellets.
"This was premeditated. It was intentionally done with malicious intent to enjoy sadistic behaviour."
Business development manager Dathan, of Stamford Brook, West Timperley, added: "It is just sick and evil - why would anyone want to do that to an animal?
"There are no words to describe it."
He is relieved that their two-year-old son, Evan, does not realise their pet has been shot.
He said of Trouble: "He is a very friendly cat and we are disgusted and absolutely shocked that someone has done this to him."
They want to warn others about it: "We want people to be aware that this has happened and to be careful."
Insp Clark Bowers, of Altrincham Police, said: "This was a callous and senseless act on a defenceless animal.
"Incidents of this kind are extremely distressing for the owner but are very rare.
"We are not aware of any other incidents like this in the area."
Anyone who has any information about the attack, which happened between February 26 and 27, should call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
Despite his wounds and fractured leg, Trouble managed to get home after being shot. He has had part of his gut removed, a fractured leg and his spleen was split. More surgery may be needed. The four figure vet bill is being covered by the family's insurance policy.
Trouble is recovering at home and is expected to make a full recovery.