Agonizing photos of a female cat tending to her mutilated kittens in China have emerged online.
The kittens were reportedly stabbed to death, and one was even decapitated, according to the Daily Mail.
In the photos, the mother can be seen standing over her kittens and attempting to groom their dead bodies.
The cat and her kittens were reportedly found by an elderly woman named Mrs. Yang, who takes care of stray cats in the city of Xi'an, providing them with food and shelter.
Many locals, on the other hand, reportedly dislike cats. They see them as pests and believe the animals bring diseases.
Yang had given the stray and her two kittens a box for shelter just hours before she made the gruesome discovery. The mother was reportedly pacing back and forth near her dead kittens, meowing continuously.
Yang was shocked to find that the kittens had been killed with a knife, and she was distressed when police reportedly expressed no interest in finding out who was responsible for the sadistic slaying.
"The kittens were obviously killed, and by a knife," she said, according to the Daily Mail. "How could anyone be so cruel?"
Yang buried the kittens as their mother looked on helplessly.
Cruelty against cats and dogs in China has come under increased scrutiny in recent years.
Humane Society International (HSI) recently rescued 29 dogs and five cats that were being held in a slaughterhouse ahead of the annual Yulin dog meat festival in China, according to the Telegraph.
In 2015, almost 3,000 dogs and cats were reportedly killed for the festival, a tradition that continues to provoke international outcry.
A petition created by HSI calling on Yulin authorities to abolish the festival was signed by 11 million people as of June 15.