Last Wednesday, a group of people visiting a shooting range in Pawnee Lake, Neb., to do some skeet shooting made a shocking discovery when they went to toss their used shotgun shell casings in a trash bin.

At the bottom of the Dumpster lay a gray tabby cat and its litter box.

The trap shooters contacted the sheriff’s department, and the cat was brought to the Capital Humane Society.

Nobody suspected there was anything wrong with the cat, whom sheriff’s deputies named Felix, since she didn’t appear to have been harmed. Someone had obviously cared for her in the past — she was spayed, declawed and was not malnourished, Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner said.

But when Felix refused to eat, humane society staff investigated further. To their surprise and dismay veterinarians discovered that what looked like a scrape near the cat’s nose was actually an entry wound from a shotgun shell pellet.

The pellet exited through the cat’s chin, injuring her tongue and the roof of her mouth in the process, said Linday Wallasky, an administrative assistant at the humane society.

Authorities don’t know whether the shooting was intentional. They also have no idea how and why the cat ended up in the trash bin.

On Monday, Felix was still refusing to eat. Wallasky said that a feeding tube may be inserted if her condition worsens.

Wallasky holds out hope for Felix’s recovery. “She’s in good spirits,” Wallasky said. “She responds when you pet her, and her tail still wags.”

The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Department is still looking for Felix’s owner and for information about how she came to be abandoned at the shooting range.

And as for Felix herself, several people have made donations to offset her veterinary costs and offered to adopt the cat. But Wallasky said it’s a little too early to think about a forever home for Felix.

“The cat is definitely not out of the woods yet,” she said.

[Sources: Journal Star and KETV News]