The Celia Hammond Trust, which has an animal sanctuary at Stubbs lane, Brede, near Hastings, was left outraged after 11 young cats were found squashed into sealed cardboard boxes near a busy road.
A spokeperson for the animal charity said: “We were called out the night of January 11 by a lady returning from work who had noticed several sealed cardboard boxes in an alley in Stratford, London, near a busy road.
“She walked past the alley and then went back as she thought she heard miaowing - thank goodness she did, as the boxes were completely sealed shut with masses of parcel tape and the 11 young cats inside would have suffocated if we hadn’t raced straight out to collect them, as there were no air holes in the boxes.
“There were no clues on the boxes to indicate an address.”
“We didn’t know their temperaments so didn’t dare open the boxes and risk them flying out into the road, so made a few tiny holes to let air in but not big enough to allow them to rip at the cardboard and escape.
“Fortunately, it only took a few minutes to drive back to the clinic. The risk of cutting the cats would have made it too dangerous to use scissors to open the boxes, so we used a butter knife to get the cats out as quickly as possible.
“We can only assume the intention was for them to die as surely everybody knows animals need to be able to breathe to survive.
“The boxes cannot have been there very long as without oxygen our vets estimate they probably wouldn’t have lived more than an hour or two.
“One really strange thing is that these cats are really friendly and have clearly once been loved, handled and cuddled - what on earth would drive someone to do something so terrible?
“All the cats are underweight and covered in fleas - our vets treated them for fleas immediately on arrival in the clinic, but we will have to build them up before they are fit enough to be neutered, vaccinated and microchipped before they are rehomed.”
If you would like to contribute toward the care of the cats and helping with the cost of the extra food they all need, visit www.celiahammond.org/index.php/news-events/news.