Buffy the kitten was beaten so violently by thugs that vets had to amputate one of her legs.

The battered pet was found by owners Nikiti Newell, 14, and sister Donna, eight, cowering behind a bed dumped in the street Buffy was taken to the vets but they could not save her limb.

The children's mother Susan, 44, of Dumbrills Close, Burgess Hill, had this message for the attackers today: "I hope you feel thoroughly ashamed, guilty and disgusted."

She wants those responsible caught and punished.

She began to worry when Buffy failed to return home when she called her at 5pm on Saturday.

She said: "I thought it was strange Buffy had not come back. It was not like her. When she had not returned by the following morning I told my two daughters to look around the block for her."

Nikiti spotted an abandoned bed base in the street and inside she found Buffy, barely able to muster a miaow.

Donna ran back to fetch her mother and between them they gently coaxed Buffy from her hiding place.

Susan said: "It was then I noticed Buffy's back leg. It was completely floppy and useless. We took her to the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals in Brighton and they broke the bad news.

"They said somebody had done this deliberately, either with a baseball bat, an iron pole or with a kick."

Three-legged Buffy is recovering at home, where she is on a course of antibiotics and painkillers. She will need special care and physiotherapy.

If one of her front legs had been amputated, the outlook would have been far bleaker.

RSPCA spokesman Claire Kennett said: "If anybody has any information about who attacked this kitten, contact the RSPCA and we will not hesitate to prosecute those involved."