These flea-ridden kittens were abandoned and left to die by a roadside in a cardboard box in torrential rain.
The nine cats are now being nursed back to health by Sheffield Cats Shelter after being discovered in a lay-by in the village of Ulley, near Rotherham at the weekend.
Staff have named the kittens after some of Team GB’s most successful Olympians – including Jessica Ennis-Hill, Andy Murray, Tom Daley, Mo Farah, Maddie Hinch and Hollie Webb.
The kittens will be found new homes after their health improves and the shelter is seeking donations to help support their stay.
Three of the kittens – named after cyclists Laura Trott, Jason Kenny and Bradley Wiggins – are only four weeks old and have gone to a specialist foster home to be nursed back to health and are being fed every few hours.
The trio may take a while to get back to full health – but the other six should be ready for adoption into new homes in a few weeks once they have doubled their weight and had injections they require.
The cats were found by a member of the public who saw a yellow box being left in a lay-by and contacted local rescue charity Friends of Ferals.
A Friends of Ferals spokesman said: “Thankfully the man stopped and was shocked to find nine kittens.
“It would only have been a matter of time before the box disintegrated and then the kits would have had rain, cold, traffic and starvation to contend with.
“What kind of person could do this? What kind of person allows their cats to have multiple litters? Unfortunately, it’s this kind of person that we meet day in, day out, week in, week out.”
Friends of Ferals did not have the capacity to look after the kittens but workers from Sheffield Cats Shelter contacted them by chance about a different issue and offered to take them in when they heard about the rescue.
Staff at the centre said the kittens were riddled with fleas but they are now ‘doing very well and have already become playful little kittens’.
Charity manager Josie Walker said: “We have a network of volunteers who foster cats or kittens for us, so that it frees space at the shelter. ”
A spokeswoman for the shelter said the charity is also in need of public donations in order to keep going.
She added: “Happily, these kittens have a good chance of surviving and being adopted, because the Sheffield Cats Shelter were able to help.
“But caring for unwanted cats and finding new homes for them comes at a cost. The Shelter cannot help these animals without public support. So if you care about the welfare of animals in this city, please help by sending a donation.”
* Anyone who can give a home to the kittens or who would like to donate to the centre is asked to visit www.thesheffieldcatsshelter.org. Donations can also be posted directly to the centre at 1 Travis Place, Broomhall, S10 2DB or ring Christine Goddard on 0114 272 4441.
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