A Knoxville family is grieving after they say their daughter's therapy cat was shot and killed by a neighbor.
The cat was shot Wednesday evening outside the family's North Knoxville home. The cat's owner found it near a hole in a fence between their house and the neighbor's house.
According to Knoxville Police, the neighbor said he shot the cat after it entered his house through a window and tried to attack his cat.
Knoxville Police say Zacharia Scott Sparrow has been cited with cruelty to animals and discharging a firearm within the city limits. Both are misdemeanor charges.
The cat's owners said the cat, Bilbo, was the prized possession and companion to their 12-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, who is on the Autism spectrum. Elizabeth received Bilbo as a Chrisatmas present when she was 6 years old.
"They cuddled together and she called him her baby and that was that. That all ended yesterday and it makes no sense to her," said J.J. Stambaugh, the girl's father.
"Having to look your daughter in the eye and explain that someone gunned him down for no sane reason that you can come up with is very hard," he said.
The family said Bilbo doesn't go outside very much, but they believe he must have slipped out an open door and climbed through a hole in the fence between the two houses.
10News reached out to sparrow at his home. He was not available.
The family plans to cremate the cat.
If Sparrow is found guilty of the cruelty to animals charge, it will not place him on the Tennessee Animal Abuse Registry.