Cats have nine lives? Smokey the cat – a true survivor – has 14

By Alex Tresniowski
September 25, 2009 06:00 PM

A furry gray cat named Smokey strayed from his home, was held down by a heartless thug and shot in the head 13 times–and survived.

In a tale of sickening cruelty and remarkable spirit, 9-year-old Smokey turned up at the doorstep of his home in Carisbrook, Australia, one morning, several days after disappearing. His owner, Liz Dunn, burst into tears when she saw him; little Smokey’s face was battered and bleeding, and his left eye appeared shredded.

After taking him to her local police station, Dunn learned what most likely happened to Smokey–he was either caged or pinned down and repeatedly shot in the head with a pellet gun, either by a lone attacker or a gang. “I was just really shocked that someone could take an animal and literally hold them down and just keep shooting them,” Dunn told Australia’s “The police said that they have to keep reloading the slug gun, it’s not a process that automatically goes bang, bang, bang. Smokey had been either contained or held because all of them were in his head and nowhere else in his body was injured. I was just shocked and horrified.”

Dunn took Smokey to a vet, who sedated him and removed 11 of the 13 pellets; the two others are still lodged in Smokey’s face. Vets also stitched a small white button just above Smokey’s badly-damaged left eye to shore it up. According to experts, there’s been an upswing in violence against cats–known as “moggies” in Australia–and other animals, much of it committed by bored, unemployed men. “Almost certainly these will be young males around about the age of 18 to 20 who have done this,” said Dr. Hugh Wirth, state president of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “It’s a pattern that we see throughout Australia and there’s only one way to deal with it and that’s jail.”

Police have launched an investigation to identify Smokey’s attackers (many states in Australia have laws banning and punishing animal cruelty). Meanwhile, the sweet-natured cat is back home with Dunn and her children (above), who marvel at Smokey’s resilience–he not only survived the horrific attack but somehow managed to find his way back home with only one eye. Police say Smokey is expected to recover from his injuries.

See more amazing stories of survival on PEOPLE Pets:
Sticky Situation: Kitty OK After Being Wrapped in Duct Tape
Bullet the Dog Survives 4 Gunshot Wounds