Animal protection officers in Prince Albert, Sask., are investigating after children attempted to light two kittens on fire last week.
According to the Prince Albert SPCA, someone saw a group of children in a park throwing one-week old kittens in the air.
The person managed to rescue one of the five kittens and take it to the SPCA, while the children fled with the rest. The children were described as being between the ages of seven and 12.
Animal protection officers then began searching for the remaining kittens. Bylaw officers tracked down one kitten and two more found their way to the shelter late in the evening after further abuse.
"One of the adults in the neighbourhood had convinced the kids to bring the kittens in," said Liana Maloney, manager of the Prince Albert SPCA.
"They were trying to light them on fire with lighters and matches."
She said one kitten suffered blisters on its feet, and the kittens' fur is singed.
"It didn't burn their skin, just their feet, thank goodness," she said.
Kittens get new mom
At the shelter, the two singed kittens were warmed up and fed by syringe.
All four rescued kittens have been placed with a cat at the shelter that had recently given birth to a small litter. The mother cat accepted the kittens and is caring for them. One of the singed kittens has been named Bernie.
Two of the kittens are doing well, while two are still "touch and go," said Maloney. They are still getting supplementary feedings by syringe.
"They were in shock when they came in," she said. "They've been through a lot, and being thrown up in the air."
They're under veterinary care and being observed in case of internal injuries.
The fifth kitten was not found by Prince Albert SPCA but Maloney said another local animal rescue had a kitten of similar age turned in around the same time. The cat that gave birth to the litter has not been found.
Animal cruelty investigation
The SPCA is asking anyone with leads to contact the group.
"I'm not saying it's something that happens often, but it's something that happens too much," said Maloney.
She said she is concerned not only for the kittens that suffered the injuries, but also for the children involved who don't seem to have empathy for animals.
"We all know that these behaviours can lead to much worse behaviours as adults," she added.
Anyone who finds kittens, or a mother with a litter in Prince Albert is asked not to touch them and to contact bylaw officers at 306-953-4222.
Anyone who witnesses animal cruelty is asked to contact Prince Albert's animal protection officers at 306-763-6110.