The RSPCA is appealing for information after six kittens were cramped into a single cat carrier and abandoned on a Long Eaton street.
The kittens, aged around six weeks old, were found in Gate House, off Main Street on Good Friday, April 14.
RSPCA inspector Dave McAdam said: “The kittens had been squashed into this cat carrier and were very distressed when they were discovered.
“It is appalling to think that someone abandoned defenceless kittens like this. Thankfully they were found and are doing well, but it could have been a much worse situation.”
The kittens are now being looked after at the RSPCA’s Radcliffe Animal Centre, in Nottinghamshire, where they have been named Aneko, Kenji, Sensey, Eriko, Makoto and Kami.
Insp McAdam said: “We are urging anyone who has any information about how these kittens came to be abandoned to contact us on 0300 1238018.”
Last month, the RSPCA released its annual statistics report, which showed that animal cruelty complaints across England and Wales had increased by 3.5 per cent.
In Derbyshire, the number of animal cruelty complaints investigated in 2016 was 3,246 - up from 3,170 in 2015, an increase of 2.3 per cent.
RSPCA inspectors investigate more complaints in Derbyshire than neighbouring counties Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire.
RSPCA assistant director Dermot Murphy said: “It never fails to shock me when I look back on the extreme instances of cruelty the RSPCA has been called upon to investigate.
“It continues to outrage and sadden me that people can be capable of such deliberate brutality towards animals, but it drives me to ensure that perpetrators of animal cruelty are put before the courts.”
He added: “I believe that the figures from last year show not that we’re becoming more cruel, but that people are simply less willing to stand by and do nothing if they think an animal is suffering.”
To learn more about the charity’s work, visit www.rspca.org.uk.