PARENTS are being urged to speak to their children about the use of airguns - after a much-loved pet was shot.

Police sent out the message as they try to track down the cruel yob who shot a cat in the York Road area of Southend.

Luckily the animal survived but had to be taken to the vet to have the pellet removed from its hind leg.

It is now on antibiotics, and is having to brave the cold after having its back leg shaved as part of the operation.

Sgt Chris Bramhill, of Southend police, urged parents to speak to their children about the dangers of air weapons.

He said: “If anyone in the area knows their child’s got an airgun or BB gun have a chat with the child about it’s use or contact the police for further advice.”

He said in the past they had received numerous reports about such crimes, but recently they seemed to have tailed off.

He wants to put a stop to the problem - before more moggies get seriously injured. He said: “We sometimes get a spate where we have a few incidents of somebody doing something like this, but I’ve not heard of any recently.”

“But they must have been aiming for the cat. If anyone knows who in this area has been doing this contact the police.

The cat belongs to a woman living in York Road but may have wandered as far as St Leonard’s Road or Stanley Road.

The problem police have is to track down the exact location of the crime. Sgt Bramhill said: “It’s a nasty crime. Unfortunately there’s not much we can do at the moment because we don’t know where it happened. “So if anyone who can say where it happened or who has any idea who did it.” Anyone who can help should call Southend police on 101.