Angry villagers are rallying to save a stray cat named Mr Skanky Pants after it was suggested the animal should be shot to protect other pets from disease.
The ageing, friendly grey tomcat has become somewhat of a local celebrity and the notion that it should be killed has been met with outrage on social media.
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An online campaign has been launched to save Mr Skanky Pants, but it's feared the cat may have kidney problems and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).
It's believed the cat was left behind by a former resident who left the village of Compton, on the Berkshire Downs near Newbury, a number of years ago and has been a stray ever since.
Worried that Mr Skanky Pants may spread disease to other pet cats, some residents in Compton, with a population of about 1,600 people, have suggested shooting the homeless feline.
But that's led to an outpouring of protest on social media, with one villager pleading "Poor boy. Don't shoot him."
Many have called for Mr Skanky Pants to be taken to a vet to be treated to save his life and have offered to help pay for his treatment.
Cats infected with FIV may appear normal for years but it eventually leads to immune deficiency that harms the cat's ability to ward off other infections.
It can only infect felines and is spread mainly through bites and scratches.
Villagers have become accustomed to seeing the grey tomcat in their gardens and on the streets of Compton but some now want him destroyed.
On a community Facebook page one villager wrote: "He needs shooting, to help him out of his pain, there won't be a lot of people agree with me, but you have to be cruel to be kind sometimes?"
But the village split was illustrated by another resident who posted: "If someone can catch him, I'm happy to donate towards whatever vets conclude - please don't shoot him. I have two cats so sadly can't take him in."
Another said" "I know it's got kidney problems and it's not well but you just can't go around shooting things. What if he misses?
"My husband goes shooting and he says when you shoot something you have got to get it right. The cat could run off half shot and be in an even worse situation.
"I would like to see it caught and taken to a vet. If it's got a chance and can live a bit longer perhaps it can be re-homed.
"If it needs putting down then it needs putting down but it should be done in the kindest way possible."
Karen Clarke, manager at Cats Protection's Newbury adoption centre, said: "We would never advise that a cat should be shot.
"We suggest for the cat's welfare that it is trapped, neutered if needed and then either returned to where it was found or we would look for a new home for it.
"In the case of FIV-positive cats, we would find them an indoor-only home which reduces their risk of spreading infection to other cats and lowers their chance of succumbing to other infectious diseases, to which they may be more susceptible."