updated 3/10/2006 9:56:58 PM ET 2006-03-11T02:56:58

Margo Dawson says her family had no choice but to shoot a cat that was "hissing and growling" after another feline in the house attacked her 16-month-old granddaughter.

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"The cat just jumped on top of her head and wouldn't let go," Dawson said Thursday. "I screamed and kicked the cat in the butt to get it away.

"Emma was hysterical. She had cuts on her ears and the back of her head."

The girl needed six stitches to close scratches on her head, Dawson said.

She said the cat "got spooked" and broke into a crazed run throughout the house before jumping on the toddler.

"Emma was defenseless. The blood was just gushing."

The cat that attacked Emma ran away and hid before the family could shoot her, said Dawson. But another cat in the house was "hissing and growling," so the family decided to shoot it.

It was not clear whether the attacking cat was found after it ran off.

The two felines were among five cats Dawson's family took into their Beaumont-area home south of Edmonton about two weeks ago after responding to an ad offering them free to a good home.

Dan Tanguay, the former owner, was angry after finding one of the animals shot to death outside the Dawson home.

He said he and his girlfriend, Krista, were forced to give up the cats because they didn't get along with his dog.

The Alberta SPCA says there's no law that prevents owners from shooting their own animals provided it's done humanely.

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