AN animal lover has slammed cruel thugs who set her pet cat on fire.

Short-haired tabby Leo suffered cigarette burns to his ears and had his tail set alight during a horrific attack.

Pauline Shields, Leo’s owner, told how she was left distraught when she saw his injuries, which are so severe that he could end up losing his tail.

She told the Barrhead News: “He still has his ears and tail for now. The vet is giving him a few weeks to see how he gets on.

“Everyone has been so kind in keeping him in their thoughts and prayers.

“His nerve endings are so badly damaged though.

“Leo is the sweetest, loveliest, most adorable soul you could ever meet.”

It’s thought the attack took place in the Glen Avenue area of Neilston on January 13.

Two-year-old Leo has since undergone surgery after being taken to Rouken Glen Vets.

Pauline said: “I am so grateful to Rouken Glen Vets for helping him. I was sure I’d get him home minus a few body parts but they’ve done everything possible to help give him the best chance. He’s a wee trooper.

“He’s been getting a lot of support from everyone who has heard his story.”

Leo was originally a surprise gift for Pauline after her son left home to take up a teaching position in Japan.

She added: “I was heartbroken [when he left] and my wee Leo helped me through. He really is a wee gem.”

Karen Minnery, of Cats Protection’s Giffnock branch, fostered Leo when he was a kitten and has been left horrified by the attack.

She is urging other cat owners in the area to remain vigilant in a bid to make sure no other animals are tortured.

“This is particularly upsetting because Leo is such a lovely wee boy,” said Karen. “He is so friendly that he would just walk over to anyone.

“We would advise people who stay in the area to keep their cats in as much as they can because we don’t want this happening again.”

The Scottish SPCA is asking anyone who has information about the attack to call its animal helpline on 0300 099 9999.