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The RSPCA is appealing for information about three cats dumped in a lay-by in a sealed recycling box near Harwich.
A black and white male, ginger and white female and tortoiseshell female were all found crammed inside the red box with black lid on the morning of Thursday 9 October, just off the A120.
One small cut had been made on the top of the box, but it was thoroughly sealed with duct tape. The cats were in good health, but in a high state of distress.
The cats have now been taken into RSPCA care and are making a good recovery. They have been named Wallis, Mia and Sandy.
RSPCA inspector Sarah Elmy said:
"To dump live animals like this is heartless - anything could have happened to them. Thank goodness these cats were found when they were. It was so hot and humid inside that box, regardless of the tiny slit on the top, they could not have survived inside there for very long.
It must have been absolutely terrifying for them - especially so near such a busy and loud main road. We urge anyone with any information about how they came to be dumped like this to contact us on 0300 1234 999."
These cats are not yet available for rehoming but may be in the near future. Anyone interested in rehoming these or other cats should contact RSPCA Southridge Animal Centre on 0300 123 0704 or visit www.rspca.org.uk/findapet.