FOUR kittens that were found abandoned beside an Oxford road 'could easily have died'.

The animals had a lucky escape after they were spotted inside a cardboard crisp box by a passer-by in Pegasus Road.

The black and white kittens, who are currently in foster care before being found new homes, were discovered at about 8.30am on Monday, July 15.

RSPCA Inspector Andy Eddy said: “The kittens are very lucky to have been found - they could have easily died if they’d not been spotted in time.

“It’s unacceptable that someone has just left them at the roadside in a box."

Read also: Oxford woman accused of 'stealing' cats warns of FIV hotspot

The charity is appealing for information and has asked anyone who knows who abandoned the kittens to call 0300 123 8018.

It has warned of a 'summer abandonment crisis', with an 85 per cent increase in the number of reports of dumped animals in the summer months.

Throughout June, July and August last year, the RSPCA received 23,673 calls about dumped animals - equating to one call every six minutes.

Last summer, 201 animals were reported abandoned in Oxfordshire. Pets are often found left in boxes, thrown in bins or left on the side of roads.

Read also: Warning after vicious attack on hedgehog

Dermot Murphy, the RSPCA’S chief inspectorate officer, said: “Sadly, we see a dramatic increase in the number of animals abandoned in the summer.

"From unwanted newborn kittens and puppies dumped in boxes and bins, exotic pets cast aside or horses abandoned in someone else’s field, dumped like rubbish.

“There is never an excuse to abandon an animal in this way and we would urge anyone who is struggling to cope with their pets to contact us or other charities for help.

"Our pets are sentient beings and great companions who rely on us for their health and happiness so dumping them like an old mobile phone or a piece of rubbish should never be the answer.

“The peak in animals being abandoned in the summer puts a massive strain on our inspectors, animal centres and branches who are left picking up the pieces when an animal is dumped.”