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SALT LAKE CITY — When Blackjack the cat was found bleeding from his mouth in his owner’s garage Tuesday, Lee and Carole Johnson thought he might have been been hit by a car.

But an X-ray revealed something more sinister: Blackjack had been shot, and bullet fragments were still inside his head.

“It was just horrifying,” Carole Johnson, who lives in a rural area near Ogden, said in a statement.

Lee first took the 4-year-old indoor/outdoor cat to an emergency veterinarian and a family veterinarian, who recommended taking Blackjack to the Utah Veterinary Center in Salt Lake City.

The X-rays showed multiple fragments of the bullet went into Blackjack’s jaw and cheek. The bullet apparently blew through his lower left jawbone.

Dr. Christina Boekhout, a veterinary surgeon at the center, said she was amazed by what she saw.

“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 in the statement.

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 a functioning 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, adding that 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 neighbors had an idea as to why anyone would shoot their cat.

“Everyone was just as horrified as we were,” Carole Johnson said.

Contributing: Alex Cabrero

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