English tourists visiting Cyprus described as a “horrific event” their experience when they found the cats they were caring for had been shot with arrows – with one lodged in a cat’s head.

The Animal Party has condemned the “macabre” incident and called on the authorities to find the perpetrator, who had used a “lethal and illegal” weapon to fire bolts at the cats.

“Investigations into identifying the person behind this are underway, and yes – such weapons require a licence,” the police animal protection unit Vironas Vironos told the Cyprus Mail.

Photographs sent to the Cyprus Mail by the tourist show that one cat with a bolt lodged straight through its head had somehow “amazingly survived”. Another has a bolt embedded in its shoulder.

At least one cat died, however.

The tourist, renting a villa in Paralimni, who encountered the maimed animals said that after having returned from the carnival in town they first realised what the “spikes” were.

“We returned around 4.30pm and saw that the ginger-coloured kitten was near our pool area with a “spike” sticking out from its back. The kitten was unable to walk and pulled itself along using only its front paws. We could clearly see that the “spike” was a thick steel object which had been fired at the kitten and had plastic flights on the rear end; we assumed it was shaped like a nail at the front end,” he said.

The tourist explained that they had been enjoying the hospitality of the Cypriot people since January 6 and had been caring for about eight cats, leaving out food and water.

They discovered the attack had happened sometime between February 25 and 26.

He explained that on morning of February 26 they noticed that two of the cats appeared to have some sort of “spike” sticking out of them. It was not possible to see the cats clearly since they were at a distance but they thought the “spikes” may have been some sort of sharp leaf the cats had brushed against.

But having returned from the carnival the tourists noticed that the cats had in fact been shot with bolts from a crossbow type weapon.

“I provided a police statement about the incident. The police later informed us that the kitten had died. Later that night one injured ginger cat arrived at the villa with flesh injuries to her side,” he explained.

The next morning another two cats arrived at the villa with similar injuries and the police again returned to take statements and photographs.

In the following days more cats which had been attacked arrived or returned to the villa, with the police again returning and taking the animals to vets.

“The police visited our villa on five occasions over 24 hours and we are impressed and grateful for this,” he said.

The concerned visitor, who left on March 4, stressed that there at least two cats remaining in the area which require urgent veterinary care.