These four newborn kittens were stuffed into a pillow case and dumped in a back yard before being rescued by a family in Londonderry.
The family found the little black and white cats in the garden of their Primrose Street area of the Waterside.
Helen Davies, founder of the Rainbow Rehoming Centre, said: “On Thursday evening we got a call from a distressed family who had found a pillowcase of kittens dumped in their back garden.
“The family only found them by chance as they were about to let out their dog into the back yard the same evening. They noticed the pillowcase and thought it a bit strange and went to investigate.
“To their horror they found four tiny kittens inside, only days old.”
The family were advised to bring the litter straight into the centre. Staff immediately contacted local woman Leanne Donaghy who had previously offered to hand feed kittens.
Ms Donaghy said the kittens were “feeding really well”.
Ms Davies said: “They were fed some kitten formula at the centre, they were ravenous and very distressed. They are now with this kind lady and need to be fed every two hours around the clock.
“This was a deliberate and horrendous act of cruelty. We are appealing for any information about the mother of these kittens as she may develop mastitis after her kittens were taken away so suddenly.
“The kittens also need the antibodies provided by their mother’s milk. They are not getting that now and we will just have to see if they survive.”
Ms Davies urged other cat owners to get their pets neutered by a vet.
Anyone with any information regarding the kittens or their mother can contact the Rainbow Centre in confidence, tel: 028 71812882 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.