The shocking discovery was made last week at OTC Recycling in Burlington County, New Jersey.
"It's my job if I see something like that," said recycling sorter Barrie Donaldson. "So, I grabbed the bag and it was cats in there."
Three kittens in bookbag had survived an overnight journey that began in a recycling bin and ended mere feet from being crushed on a conveyor belt.
"It's a miracle because nothing makes it," said Donaldson, referring to the machine that shreds sorted recycling materials.
According to OTC Plant Operations Manager Tim Whelihan, the kittens were left outside last Wednesday following the snowstorm. They survived being tossed around by the recycling truck's compactor and being spun in a drum that breaks up material on the conveyor system.
"These cats had three lives gone in one day," said Whelihan.
One kitten, 'Precious,' was immediately adopted by a worker at OTC Recycling. The remaining two cats were taken in by the Marshall family from Burlington, New Jersey, who shared their own heartbreaking story.
"About a week ago, my daughter lost her cat due to it being struck by a car," said Brian Marshall. "So my daughter and I came over to look at the one. They brought out the other one. We fell in love with both of them."
Even in the face of tragedy, the Marshalls think everything happens for a reason. Thus, they adopted the remaining kittens and named them 'Luna' and 'Sunny.'
"We were meant to have these little babies now," said Brian Marshall's daughter Nicole.
The roughly eight-week-old kittens showed no signs of injury despite making a terrifying trip to the recycling plant.
Local authorities are investigating the source of the recycled backpack.
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