The shocking act of cruelty saw a high-velocity slug fracture Dexter’s jaw before passing out through his neck, leaving bits of metal embedded in his skull.
Yet the jet black cat’s luck held out and his miracle recovery today sees him nominated for Pet Survivor of the Year 2018.
He is one of three cats, the others are Maximus and Skittles, as well as Brandy the dog, who are competing for the prestigious title in a public vote for the award from the veterinary charity, PDSA. See details below.
Dexter’s rough start to life, with him passing through various homes, was very much on the up when doting owners Ruth and John Lewis welcomed him into their Cornish family as an eight month old kitten.
When he failed to come home one night in July this year, the owners became increasingly concerned only to be confronted by his pitiful cries as he dragged himself into their lounge.
At first, the couple feared he had been mauled by a fox. His leg was at a strange angle, his coat covered in blood and he was struggling to breath. Mrs Lewis thought he would die in her arms.
It was only when examined by vets did x-rays reveal the shocking truth: he had been shot through the roof of his mouth.
Vet Jemma Gough explained: “Dexter’s jaw was fractured and an exit wound was visible at the back of his neck, while other pieces of metal ‘shrapnel’ were scattered through his head and neck.
Pitiful state of Dexter when he arrived at vets (Image: PDSA)
"He wasn’t even able to walk, so how he’d dragged himself home was a mystery.”
There were fears that two year old Dexter may never walk again but specialist care, including a fixator attached to his jaw which meant his owners had to hand feed for nearly five weeks, has seen him making a fantastic recovery.
Mrs Lewis said: “Incredibly, now three months on, you wouldn’t even know anything had happened.
"The only remnant of his terrifying ordeal is the hole in the roof of his mouth, which is yet to fully heal and may require a further surgery.
Vet can reveals the extent of Dexter's injuries (Image: PDSA)
“It means he still finds it difficult to eat, and he slurps when he drinks, but nobody minds. He’s our little miracle cat.
“We’re so pleased that Dexter is up for PDSA Pet Survivor of the Year. It’s been such a tough journey, but we’ve been humbled by the support we’ve received and are amazed at how quickly he’s healed and recovered.
"We’re still recovering emotionally from what happened, but Dexter’s determination has been an inspiration.”
This year’s competition was open to any pet treated for a life-saving illness or injury by a vet between January 1, 2017, and August 31, 2018.
Dexter the cat is recovering well after being shot (Image: PDSA)
PDSA Senior Vet Sean Wensley, who judged the initial round of entries before the shortlist of four pets was compiled, said: “The tragic and painful circumstances endured by these pets, along with the devotion shown by their owners, makes them all worthy contenders for the PDSA Pet Survivor title.”
To vote for Dexter, see: https://www.pdsa.org. uk/get-involved/our-campaigns/ pet-survivor/2018-finalists/ dexter
Voting is open until November 30. Only one vote per person.
The winner will be announced before Christmas and will win a luxury pet hamper and a trophy.
PDSA Pet Survivor Awards 2018 are supported by Animal PoisonLine, a 24-hour advice line for owners who are concerned that their pets have come into contact with something potentially poisonous. It is run by the UK's only animal poison centre and is a triage service which only directs owners to their vets if treatment is needed. More information is available at www.animalpoisonline.co.uk