ESCATAWPA (WLOX) -- When Lorraine Zielinski describes her cat Bootsie, she calls him one of her children. But last Tuesday, he mysteriously disappeared. When the cat returned on Friday night, he was hardly recognizable and clinging to life.
"They thought he needed to be put to sleep right away. He had a temperature of 104. He had a massive infection, broken bones. His teeth were back somewhere where they shouldn't have been, shoved in his throat," Lorraine Zielinski said.
Her beloved cat had been shot in the mouth.
"He had a will to live. I tried to doctor him up; I cleaned him up as best I could. He was drinking water, I still can't figure out how, because he had no face left. There was nothing there," Zielinski said.
Without any other options, Bootsie was put to sleep on Saturday. But Zielinski can't stop thinking about who could have shot her cat.
"Whoever did it, I wish they'd say they did it."
About six months ago, another one of the Zielinski's cats disappeared. That one never returned, which makes the Zielinski's even more concerned about what could be going on in her neighborhood.
Bootsie's memory will live on with a backyard memorial, but Zielinski is praying for justice in Bootsie's honor.
"If they took the authority to think they can shoot and kill my cat, I think they need to step up and say that they did it and be proud of themselves. They took a family pet away from us that we can't get back," Zielinski said.
Zielinski says two other cats in the Wildwood Road area have disappeared in recent weeks, but it's unclear if the incidents are related.
The Jackson County Sheriff's Department is investigating this case of animal cruelty. If you have any information, call (228) 769-3063.
By Keli Rabon