Five kittens have been dumped 300m from Wellington SPCA's Waikanae Centre.
They were found in scrub near a paddock, near an Electrolux vacuum cleaner box.
Four of the five kittens were just 6 weeks old and unable to fend for themselves. The fifth kitten, about 10 weeks of age, was found dead a few metres from where the box and other kittens were found.
The kittens are now in the care of Wellington SPCA, and the case is under investigation. Animal welfare inspectors are appealing for public help to identify who dumped the animals.
The Electrolux box containing towels covered in kitten faeces has been taken as evidence.
"The box is for a new model 'Watermelon Red' Electrolux vacuum. We are hopeful that someone will recognise the box and be able to provide information that could help us locate the person responsible," said Wellington SPCA senior animal welfare inspector Peter McCallum.
"Someone has dumped these kittens just a few hundred metres away from our Waikanae Centre. They could have come to us for help, instead they chose to leave these defenceless young animals in a location where they are lucky to have been found."
Mr McCallum said they were working with a local retailer to review CCTV footage and following other lines of inquiry, but needed the public to come forward.
The four surviving kittens were hungry but were now warm, comfortable and fed. They would continue to receive treatment from SPCA staff. A post-mortem on the dead kitten would be done at Wellington SPCA veterinary hospital in Newtown.
It is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 to desert an animal, and anyone convicted for doing so could face up to 12 months in jail and/or a $50,000 fine.
Anyone with information should contact Wellington SPCA on 0800 INSPECTOR.