The RSPCA is appealing for information after an unlikely hero came to the rescue of a cat and her kittens which had been dumped in a crisp box in Middlesbrough.

The terrified trio had been left to die, trapped in a box with no food and water and dumped in bushes in a park under the cover of darkness.

By an incredible stroke of luck the cats were sniffed out and saved by Vader the dog who was out on a late night walk with her owner Sharon.

Sharon Smith, who lives near Pallister Park in Middlesbrough, said: “I had been throwing the ball for her, she went into the bushes to get it and I could she was nudging a box and whining. I knew it must be something important because she’d left her ball behind and she’s crazy about her ball.

“I went over to take a look could see there were some holes in the box and it was moving so I called my son and he came and helped me take Vader and the box home.”

Sharon was stunned when she opened the taped-up Doritos box and found a tortoiseshell cat and two ginger tabby kittens inside.

She said: “When I pulled off the tape and opened the box I saw the cat and kittens inside and I was shocked. They were terrified. It was a small box for them, it was just heartbreaking.

“It’s is disgusting that anyone would dump them like that. It’s absolutely appalling.”

The mother cat, who is thought to be between one and two-years-old, and her kittens who are thought to be about eight-weeks-old, were taken to the vets to be checked over and are now in RSPCA care.

RSPCA Inspector Emma Stainthorpe said: “The box was very small for the three of them, there was no food or water and the bottom of it was soiled with urine.

“The mother cat was not microchipped so we do not know who her owner is. She is friendly so it would appear she’s been handled and was someone’s pet. It’s really important that people get their cats neutered if they do not want kittens.

“Vader is such a lovely little dog, without her these little kittens may not have survived. She really is the hero of the hour.”

Vader,a five-year-old white Staffordshire Bull Terrier named after the Star Wars villain Darth Vader, is being spoiled rotten as a reward for finding the dumped cats.

Proud owner Sharon added: “I wouldn’t have looked in the box unless Vader had brought my attention to it. I thought it was just rubbish.

“I don’t know what would have happened to those poor kittens if Vader hadn’t found the box, I dread to think.

“Thank goodness for Vader, she really is a hero. I’ve given her three new tennis balls as a treat for finding the kittens as she was so focused on the box she lost her ball.”

Anyone with information about who abandoned the kittens late on Tuesday 22 September can contact the RSPCA appeal line on 0300 123 8018 and leave a message for Inspector Emma Stainthorpe.

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