THEY are so tiny that they should not have been parted from their mother.
But fifteen unfortunate sick kittens have been found dumped in a suitcase on a resident's doorstep.
Sarah Mills opened her doorstep on Friday morning to find the closed suitcase, which had no identification tags, but she made the shocking discovery when she heard noises coming from inside.
Sarah, who runs All Animal Rescue, a network of fosterers in Southampton caring for animals looking for homes, has had animals dumped before, including cats, dogs, guinea pigs and even a pig, but never in this quantity or in a suitcase.
She has subsequently discovered the four-week-old kittens, which were riddled with fleas and worms, have cat flu - a potentially fatal condition for kittens.
The 31-year-old, who started the rescue organisations six years ago and also works as a receptionist for the PDSA in Northam and volunteers for the RSPCA, told how she had been taking the rubbish out when she found the kittens.
“I heard noise and undid the suitcase to see 15 pairs of eyes staring back at me,” she said though the kittens were weak, Sarah said with antibiotics they should hopefully all recover, though at present they need feeding every four hours.
“Don't get me wrong I'm not happy about them being dumped or being in a suitcase,” she added.
“But they did the best for the kittens. They have put them somewhere where they will get help - they may have phoned around and couldn't get them in somewhere and it may have been a last resort.
“Maybe they were desperate.”
Ten have since been handed to the RSPCA's Stubbington Ark Rescue Centre, while a fosterer is caring for the other five.
The RSPCA appealed for anyone with information on the incident to come forward.
“This is a really awful thing to do to dump such young vulnerable animals,” said a spokeswoman.
“It's fantastic that the lady was there to rescue them and take care of them.”
You can call the RSPCA line on 0300 123 8018.
Anyone who would like to offer the kittens a home when they are ready for rehoming can call 023 8089 3188 or email firstname.lastname@example.org