A pet cat who was shot in the stomach with an air gun from close range has died.
Rhea underwent emergency surgery after being found with severe abdomen injuries near her home in Falkirk.
STV News told last week how she was fighting for her life after part of her gut was removed.
However, the Scottish SPCA confirmed on Wednesday that, despite the treatment, Rhea had died.
Owner Alan Smith said his family – whose other cat Oreo was shot by an air rifle last year – has been left “devastated”.
He said: “There are no words that can or will help. Gutted does not cover how we feel.
“We have lost faith in humanity after losing Rhea in such a horrific way.
“She did not deserve this, the pain and suffering she must have gone through before her death would have been unbearable, it breaks my heart.
“The person responsible must be brought to justice before they strike again. Someone out there knows something. Our pet died for absolutely no reason.
“The amount of distress and upset it has caused my wife and I is immeasurable.
“This will be with us for the rest of our lives, losing our baby girl in this way.”
The Smiths believe Rhea was deliberately targeted following the previous attack on Oreo.
She is the third cat shot within a two-mile radius in Falkirk in less than a year, and the Scottish SPCA believes the attacks are linked.
Scottish SPCA inspector Andrew Gray said: “We are saddened to hear of the death of Rhea.
“This is the second time the family have suffered something so harrowing. Unfortunately, Rhea wasn’t as lucky as Oreo.
“The person responsible must be caught. This is the third cat within a two-mile radius since last June to have suffered injury from an air gun. We are concerned this person or persons is going to commit more crimes against animals.
“Owning an air rifle without a license has been illegal since December 2016, this is a move we welcomed due to incidents such as this.”
Police are also investigating the shootings and called on anyone with information to come forward.
Constable Maria Malcolm from Falkirk Police Station said: “These acts are extremely dangerous, reckless and illegal. We understand the distress and upset this incident has caused to the cat’s owners and we continue to investigate the circumstances fully.
“We believe the animal may have been injured whilst being in the Callendar Wood area and we would urge anyone who may have any information to help us identify and trace those involved, to come forward to assist with our inquiries as soon as possible.”
Anyone with information can contact Police Scotland on 101 or the Scottish SPCA’s confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999.