THREE cats crammed into a taped-up cardboard box and dumped in woodland are on the lookout for a new home.

The trio, called Emma, Mary-Margaret and Killian, are being looked after by staff at Cats Protection’s national adoption centre at Chelwood Gate, near Haywards Heath.

They were discovered by walkers who heard scratching sounds coming from the box.

Emma, thought to be aged six and Killian, aged four, have been given a clean bill of health by vets.

Mary-Margaret, who is believed to be around eight years old, has a heart murmur but is otherwise healthy.

Centre manager Danielle Draper said: “It is distressing enough to think these three lovely cats had been dumped.

“However to force them into a cardboard box, seal it up with tape and dump them in woodland is terribly cruel.

“They had clearly put up quite a battle to get out of the box as they had been scratching and scratching. But they would have quickly become tired and weak and may not have lasted much longer.

“When they came to us they were in fairly good condition, albeit very hungry and thirsty.

“Sadly, these three cats are not alone and there are many unwanted cats and kittens which are all too often dumped and left to fend for themselves.

“This is why Cats Protection advises kittens are neutered from four months old to avoid unwanted kittens being born.”

The charity is looking for an owner to take on tabby Emma and black male Killian as a pair and a separate owner for black-and-white Mary-Margaret.

Ms Draper said: “All three are lovely cats. They are understandably a little nervous at first but with a little encouragement they come out of their shells and enjoy being stroked.”

Anyone interested in finding out more should call 01825 741 330.