The young cats, one ginger and three black, were found outside Hengoed Station in Gwent where they would not have survived for much longer alone in the cold. A kind member of the public was out walking her dog when she and her grandfather discovered the foursome. They had spotted the box looking out of place by some bushes outside the unmanned station and as they approached, heard squeaking coming from inside. They found the kittens sheltering together in the box which had no comforts, no air holes and a strip of ‘fragile’ tape sealing it closed.
Cats Protection’s Gwent Branch was called for help. The branch’s coordinator, Glynis Davies, says: “I was totally horrified that such young and defenceless kittens were abandoned without even a towel or blanket for warmth.
“As a branch we take in over 300 kittens every year and think we’ve seen it all, but this has been one of the coldest weeks of the year so far and these kittens would certainly have died if they had been outside for much longer.”
The quartet, who have been named after Thomas the Tank Engine characters, Thomas, Percy, Annie and Clarabel, are less than a week old and should have been relying on their mother to keep them alive.
Glynis adds: “The kittens are so young that their eyes aren’t open and Annie and Clarabel’s tiny ears are still folded against their heads. At this age all they can really do is feel and smell so we are doing everything their mother should be doing. We are really lucky that one of our local vet nurses, Sophie, has offered to hand-rear them. It’s a round-the-clock job with feeds needed every couple of hours. Sophie will also be regulating their body temperature because they cannot do it themselves, toileting them and beginning their socialisation.”
“We understand that cats have unexpected litters or that people’s circumstances change but there is no excuse for leaving cats of any age to fend for themselves and kittens this young simply cannot survive without their mothers.
“Anyone who finds themselves unable to cope with cats in their care should contact their local animal welfare charity, like Cats Protection, a rescue organisation or vet. While we can’t always take cats into care immediately we do try our best and with a little bit of time for planning we can ensure that you and the cats have the best possible experience. No cat or kitten should be left out in the cold.”
Once the kittens are past nine weeks old, they will be ready to find new homes and their details will be posted on the branch's website. The website also features more details about the branch, which can also be contacted by calling 0345 371 2747.