A man grieving the death of his shot cat has branded the killer as “unadulterated evil” and “subhuman.”

Damian Walsh has been told that Spider, who would have been three next month, was shot with an illegal high velocity rifle. The bullet passed through his body, leaving two holes.

He said: “I really do think it’s got to be some sicko who did it completely on purpose. I can’t think of any other reason. If your cat gets run over on a busy road, you can accept that, but not that somebody has done that – that’s the most painful thing.

“It’s sick. It’s completely selfish and psychotic. It’s evil, unadulterated evil. It’s subhuman. We’re gutted and devastated, but we’re angry. The other thing is, a farmer wouldn’t have shot him because there’s no livestock or animals for him to bother. If anything, he’s getting rid of mice and vermin.”

Mr Walsh’s wife, Annie, a teacher in Leeds, found the body the much-loved pet in a unused barn in Bingley on Saturday. Spider was last seen on Thursday morning, but he would often wander around fields near Walsh Lane and be away for a couple of days.

On Saturday morning Mrs Walsh used the cat’s GPS tracking device collar to find him. Mr Walsh, 36, said his wife called him and was screaming when she discovered Spider’s body.

“I was just absolutely devastated. When you haven’t got children, you treat your pets like children,” he said.

Mrs Walsh, 34, took the cat home before the couple, of Lady Lane, Bingley, took him to Avenue Veterinary Practice, Shipley.

Mr Walsh, an office manager at an architectural firm in Dewsbury, said: “The vet immediately dismissed an air rifle and commented that because of the sustained wound and the fact that the bullet passed through the cat it had to be a high velocity rifle and an illegal one at that.”

The vet thinks the attack happened on Thursday. “We haven’t found the bullet yet, but we went to the barn with the police on Sunday,” Mr Walsh said.

Assistant vet Ashok Burton said X-rays showed a clear track of shrapnel passing through Spider’s body from the right middle part of his chest to just behind the left shoulder.

He said air rifle pellets tended to lodge in a cat’s body and cause pain, but limited damage. “I’ve never seen anything that went clean through the cat before,” he said.

“I’m not shocked by many things, but it was unusual. It’s not something I’ve seen before. Obviously the owners were very sad and it’s a sad case for a healthy cat to be shot like that.”

Mr Burton said there was blood at the back of the cat’s throat - suggesting haemorrhaging - his right lung had collapsed and had a small piece of shrapnel in it and a rib was fractured.

The couple, who also own Spider’s brothers Sid and Sheldon, will deliver leaflets warning people to be vigilant.

A police spokesman said: “We are aware of this incident and it’s believed to be an isolated incident. All lines of inquiry have been followed, with no result at this time.”