A miracle cat from Redruth is up for a national award after surviving a horrific attack which left him fighting for his life.

Two-year-old Dexter was deliberately shot through his mouth leaving his jaw fractured, an exit wound in the back of his neck and metal shrapnel embedded throughout his head.

Surviving this shocking act of cruelty was a miracle in itself, but Dexter continued to amaze his vets throughout the months of his slow recovery.

Dexter is now going whisker to whisker with three other plucky pets for the title of vet charity PDSA's Pet Survivor of the Year 2018. The public will now pick the winner by voting at www.pdsa.org.uk/petsurvivor2018

The final four were selected from entries from all over the UK by a judging panel, which included James McVey from The Vamps, and PDSA Senior Vet Sean Wensley. The other three finalists are:

• Brandy the Staffie – had an 11-inch (28cm) stick lodged through her throat and chest after a game of fetch went disastrously wrong.

• Maximus the grey cat – involved in a suspected hit-and-run accident, leaving his skull and jaw broken in two.

• Skittles the ginger cat – was found impaled on railings, but was miraculously alive and conscious.

Dexter had a rough start in life, he went through several homes and ended up on Gumtree, but was eventually taken in by National Animal Welfare Trust. At eight months old he finally found his forever home with Ruth and John Lewis, who adore him.

In July this year Dexter, didn’t come home one night. At first his owners weren’t unduly worried, but when he failed to arrive for breakfast the next day they became increasingly concerned.

Later that day a cry was heard in the lounge – it was Dexter, he’d dragged himself home and through the open conservatory door. But his leg was at an odd angle, he was covered in blood, icy cold and struggling to breathe.

Living in a rural area, they initially suspected he’d been mauled by a fox or badger, so he was wrapped in a blanket and rushed to the vets. Ruth thought he would die in her arms.

Once stabilised at Animal Vet Services, x-rays revealed the horrific truth – Dexter had been deliberately shot through the roof of his mouth, possibly with an airgun.

Vet Jemma Gough said: “Dexter’s jaw was fractured and an exit wound was visible at the back of his neck, while other pieces of metal ’shrapnel’ were scattered through his head and neck. He wasn’t even able to walk, so how he’d dragged himself home was a mystery.”

He stayed at the vets for several days but his owners were warned it was still touch-and-go. Even if he survived he may never regain full use of his legs. He went to a specialist to have a fixator attached to his jaw, which was in place for nearly five weeks meaning his owners had to hand feed him several times a day. But with plenty of care and regular vet visits, Dexter slowly started to improve, and regained full use of his legs too.

Dexter's owner Ruth said: “Incredibly, now three months on, you wouldn’t even know anything had happened. The only remnant of his terrifying ordeal is the hole in the roof of his mouth, which is yet to fully heal and may require a further surgery. It means he still finds it difficult to eat, and slurps when he drinks, but nobody minds - he’s our little miracle cat!

“We’re so pleased that Dexter is up for PDSA Pet Survivor of the Year. It’s been such a tough journey, but we’ve been humbled by the support we’ve received and are amazed at how quickly he’s healed and recovered. We’re still recovering emotionally from what happened, but Dexter’s determination has been an inspiration.”

Voting now open

Voting is open until Friday, November 30. The winner will be announced just before Christmas and will win a luxury pet hamper and a trophy.

PDSA Senior Vet Sean Wensley who also judged the competition said: “Reading these extraordinary cases makes me very proud to be part of such a skilled and dedicated profession. Veterinary teams save the lives of much-loved pets like these every day. The tragic and painful circumstances endured by these pets, along with the devotion shown by their owners, makes them all worthy contenders for the PDSA Pet Survivor title.”

The competition was open to pets treated for a life threatening illness or injury by a vet in the UK between 1 January 2017 and 31 August 2018. Only one vote per person is allowed.

The PDSA Pet Survivor Awards 2018 are supported by Animal PoisonLine, a 24-hour advice line for owners who are concerned that their pets have come into contact with something potentially poisonous. It is run by the UK's only animal poison centre and is a triage service which only directs owners to their vets if treatment is needed (charges apply). More information is available at www.animalpoisonline.co.uk