SALT LAKE CITY – When Blackjack the cat was found bleeding from his mouth, his owners Lee and Carole Johnson thought maybe he had been hit by a car.
But an X-ray at Utah Veterinary Center, a BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospital in Salt Lake City, revealed something more sinister: Blackjack had been shot, and bullet fragments were still inside his head.
“It was just horrifying,” said Carole Johnson, who lives in a rural area near Ogden along with Lee, three dogs and a second cat.
The X-rays showed multiple fragments of the bullet went into Blackjack’s jaw and cheek. The bullet apparently blew through his lower left mandible, or jawbone.
Blackjack is a black, 4-year-old indoor/outdoor cat who weighs nearly 20 pounds and is friendly to everyone. He was in the garage on Tuesday when Lee Johnson discovered him bleeding.
Lee took Blackjack to an emergency veterinarian and also to a family veterinarian, who recommended going to Utah Veterinary Center. The hospital offers both around-the-clock emergency care and highly trained specialists.
Dr. Christina Boekhout, a board-certified veterinary surgeon for Utah Veterinary Center, was amazed by what she saw after reviewing the X-ray. “I was disappointed that Blackjack had been shot, but I considered him very lucky to have such great owners to put him through a repair,” she said.
Boekhout surgically removed several bullet fragments and put in a plate that connects the damaged portion of the mandible. She said Blackjack will need regular monitoring to make sure bone or scar tissue grows back to give him the functioning of a normal jaw.
The Johnsons are mystified about why anyone would have shot Blackjack. He wears a red collar with his name on it in big letters, making it obvious he’s not a feral cat, Carole Johnson said.
“Whoever shot him was just doing it out of meanness,” she said. She said some of her neighbors have chickens, but the neighbors would simply have called if Blackjack was disturbing them. Just out of curiosity, she got on Facebook and asked if any of her neighbors had any idea why anyone would have shot their friendly cat.
“Everyone was just as horrified as we were,’ Carole Johnson said.