I was sickened by the report of the person who shot an airgun pellet into the stomach of Toffee the cat (Air gun cat Toffee dies, The Press, April 7) - what is the world coming to when innocent animals that bring so much pleasure to people can be so cruelly treated by anybody?

I read the suggestion by another reader that we should bring back the stocks to deal with louts of this type.

I would be delighted to aim things at the faces of people who can commit such barbaric acts, and I am sure that others would feel the same.

Only two things can hurt sub-humans like this - physical pain and the loss of things they consider important, such as mobile phones or even cars.

It they could be threatened with such reprisals, perhaps they would think twice before they act. The confiscation of a precious possession could possibly be a deterrent.

Why are so many of our children growing up without their mothers teaching them compassion and respect for life in all its many forms?

My own two sons were lively and mischievous and often deserved the smackings that, in those days, were the accepted and well deserved form of punishment, but neither of them would ever hurt a living creature.

They were brought up knowing that causing hurt to others, human or animal, was simply inexcusable. Pets of any sort were considered part of a family and were treated kindly and lovingly.

Mothers who fail so miserably to teach children the rudiments of kindness to animals are as guilty as their wayward, cruel offspring. It is a pity they are not punished as severely as those young thugs, if and when these are brought to justice.

Heather Causnett.

Escrick Park Gardens, Escrick, York.