HEARTBREAKING: Dumped kittens left to fend for themselves
"DON'T leave them out in the freezing cold where they won't make the night."
That's the message one cat rescue owner is pleading the community to heed.
It comes following a spike in the number of kittens left to fend for themselves on the streets.
When Kel Maree found a kitten about three weeks old sleeping on the doorstep of a Laidley business, she knew she couldn't leave it there.
Picking up the kitten, Kel noticed the creature was covered in fleas and suspected it had been abandoned.
"I found her and put ads up but no-one claimed her," Kel said.
"She was tiny, she was alone and we needed to take her home with us and love her, so that's just what we did - she is our tiny girl and we love her to bits."
More than a year later, Tiny is healthy and loved but the wider problem has only gotten worse.
Angels Rescue Toowoomba and Country Director Carol Snell said in the past week, eight kittens younger than four weeks were found on the streets across Laidley and Toowoomba.
"They're between two and four weeks old and they've just been dumped," Ms Snell said.
"Some are from the litter but they're not being found together, they're being found all over the place."
During the 10 years Ms Snell has been in the cat rescue industry, she has never seen anything like it.
"We always get dumpage - they're found in rubbish bins, they're found on dump sites, construction sites," she said.
"We always get it but this is different - this is this is the worst yet."
Kittens are being found dumped much younger than usual, with many barely able to walk.
Lockyer Valley Cat Rescue Co-founder Carly Richmond seconded the number of abandoned and stray cats in Laidley was higher than ever.
"We are seeing an usually high number of orphaned kittens, unowned kittens and cats, and stray but friendly kittens," Ms Richmond said.
Two weeks ago, the cat rescue received a call from a Laidley resident who had discovered an entire family of abandoned cats - two of which were wearing collars.
"They had a female cat turn up to their house, coming from the side of the road," Ms Richmond said.
"This cat had a collar and bell on it and was very timid but obviously someone's pet."
After the resident fed the cat, it left, returning with four kittens in tow and an adult daughter, who was also wearing a collar.
"All six of them had ringworm, worms and fleas but they were very friendly," Ms Richmond said.
"They were definitely dumped and didn't have microchips."
Ms Snell urged anyone thinking of dumping kittens or cats to consider contacting a rescue instead.
"We will always step up, just ask for help," she said.
"Contact rescues, contact vets - a lot of vets know about rescues and will contact us.
"They're not rubbish - don't throw them away."
Read more stories by Ebony Graveur.