The four kittens were tiny balls of black and gray fur; so young that three had eyes that hasn't even opened yet.
But on Tuesday, the kittens were found, their throats brutally slashed, behind Riverhead Brake Svs.
Chief Roy Gross of the Suffolk County SPCA said it appears the kittens were thrown over the fence.
Francis Bujnicki, owner of the shop, said one of his workmen made the discovery.
"He told me, ''There's something gruesome out there. Their throats were slit."
After calling Riverhead police, who contacted Gross, Bujnicki placed the four kittens gently side by side in a box and buried them.
Gross added that Bujnicki said a prayer for the kittens.
"It was sad," Bujnicki said. "There was no need for whoever did this to hurt them. All they wanted was to be fed and cuddled."
Bujnicki, who already feeds a big orange stray he's named Tom, said he would have cared for the kittens, too. "What's four more?"
Gross and police canvassed Riverhead Friday, putting up posters and asking for information.
The Riverhead community, Gross said, is "enraged," and has come together to help. The reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects now stands at $1200, including $200 that Gross said Bujnicki added to the fund.
"It was horrible," Gross said, of the kittens. Anyone with information is asked to call 631-382-7722; all calls are confidential.
The suspect is facing felony charges with penalties of up to two years in prison, per kitten, or a total of eight years behind bars, Gross said.
"There's no excuse in the world for this," Gross said.