A three-week-old kitten has been saved from being crushed to death in a recycling truck after it was dumped in a bin.
During its terrifying ordeal the female tortoiseshell kitten was thrown into a bin full of cardboard which was then emptied into the back of a waste truck.
As the truck's crusher began operating, two bin men heard her cries and immediately stopped the mechanism.
The men, who were completing their round on Cornwall Street in Plymouth, Devon, then saw the tiny kitten fall from the crusher's blades.
The kitten, which has since been named Lucky, was unharmed in the incident.
She was taken to the Devon Contract Waste depot on Sowton Industrial Estate, in Exeter, where she has been adopted by the staff.
Donna Cook, from Devon Contract Waste, said: "It was last Wednesday when we got a phone call in the office from one of our drivers saying he had found a kitten.
"They were picking up recycling and when the truck up-ended and, as the crusher started pulling back the cardboard, they heard her screams.
"They stopped the crusher and out fell the kitten from its blades."
Ms Cook said Lucky was not any bigger than her hand and she rushed the kitten to the vet, who gave her baby milk to give to the animal.
She added that the large four-wheel bins had heavy lids so the kitten could not have gotten inside by herself.
"She was definitely dumped," she said.
"We can't have lids that are open because the rubbish would go everywhere, so someone has to have opened it.
"That is the most horrific part of it, for someone to do that.
"If you put something in a bin you know where it is going to end up, and for someone to do that on purpose is horrific."
Lucky is now being looked after by the company's managing director Simon Almond, his wife Anne-Marie and their two daughters aged 13 and 15, who are taking it in turns to do four-hour feeds.
"She comes into the office and gets lots of cuddles now, so she's probably going to end up a bit spoilt, but she deserves it after what she's been through," Ms Cook said.
Diane Roberts of the RSPCA said: "It's horrifying, this poor little thing being so defenceless and at that age, of three weeks, probably not even got its eyes open, left in a bin with no food, no water and then thrown into this terrifying situation.
"It's remarkable that it survived at all, really."
Ms Roberts said the charity had not been contacted about the incident but could prosecute if it can find witnesses.
"If anyone knows anything or noticed that there was a pregnant cat who's no longer pregnant, but doesn't seem to have any of her kittens with her now, or saw anything suspicious, they could call our new phone number, 0300 123 8018," she said.