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Authorities are looking for the person who fatally shot and beat a pet cat in the lower Hudson River Valley in New York last month, and officials say the suspect may be the same individual who has killed three other cats near the area since July.
Officials in Putnam County say a Patterson, N.Y, man called the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Feb. 7 and said his cat appeared to have been shot while it was outside.
Authorities found the 7-month-old black and brown female Calico cat, named "Blackfoot," with a neck wound; the feline also appeared to be paralyzed from its mid-section to its hind paws.
The cat was rushed to a nearby hospital, where veterinarians conducted an X-ray and found a metal projectile embedded in part of the animal's spine. Animal control officers said the suspect may have used a high-powered BB gun or a low-caliber rifle to fire the projectile at the cat.
Veterinarians also found a spinal fracture that they believe was caused by blunt force trauma.
"I believe the person called her over, the shot her in the back, then kicked her," said Blackfoot's owner Robert Kitts, who found her bleeding outside his home last week.
The cat remained under veterinary care at the Westchester Animal Hospital until it died Feb. 11 due to progressive paralysis, authorities said.
Officials are looking into whether the latest case of cat abuse may be connected to a severed cat head found staged in August in an intersection half a mile from where Blackfoot was shot. Authorities are also investigating if those incidents are connected to two other cat beheadings in July several miles away in the Connecticut towns of Oxford and Fairfield.
"We responded to a call not quite half a mile from here where we found a decapitated cat's head that was placed in the middle of the road," said Ken Ross of the Putnam County SPCA. "That took place within a month of two cats that were found nearby in Connecticut in the same condition."
Authorities are concerned that the cat killer could move to more serious crimes.
"It's moving into the realm of -- something's going to happen to a human," said Ross. "Something's going to be done to a human because this person no longer has the control to hold back."
Anyone with information about animal abuse in the area is asked to call (845) 520-6915 or visit www.spcaputnam.org.