By CBS3 Staff

BURLINGTON, N.J. (CBS) — Three kittens are proving they have nine lives after workers rescued the trio from a South Jersey recycling plant. Someone threw the kittens in a backpack and then tossed them in the trash.

The three kittens who were stuffed into a backpack and thrown into a recycling bin like trash were rescued from a conveyor belt inside the Burlington County Recycling Center last Thursday.

They already had made it through a night in the bitter cold, buried under more than two tons of garbage.

“I saw the bag moving,” said Barrie Donaldson.

Donaldson spotted the green backpack.

“It was moving a bit so I stopped the button, I stopped the line,” Donaldson said.

Donaldson stopped the line just in time.

“I looked at it real closely and they were moving,” Donaldson said. “And I was like, ‘Oh wow, there is something in this bag.”

Inside the bag were three kittens left for dead. They were saved at the very last minute.

Donaldson noticed the bag moving on this conveyer belt just seconds before it made its way to what plant workers call the “glass crusher.”

“I looked to my right and I see all the teeth going,” Ashley Bush said. “That would have been horrendous.”

Bush was there as it all happened.

“Barrie stopped it and the bag was right in front of me,” Bush said.

Just moments before, the kittens were sling-shotted through a sorting machine. Miraculously, all three were unharmed.

“They just popped their head up and meow, meow,” Donaldson said. “When I heard that, I knew they were alive and alright at that moment.

Bush adopted one of the kittens and named her Precious.

“Right away, I said I gotta have her,” she said.

The Marshall family took in the other two — Sunny and Luna.

“It’s a miracle, it really is,” said a member of the Marshall family. “There’s no way they should be alive right now.”

The kittens are alive, safe and in their forever homes just in time for Christmas.

If you have any information about who may have discarded the kittens, you’re asked to call Burlington Police.

CBS3’s Alicia Roberts reports.

MORE FROM CBSPHILLY.COM

‘Ineffective Operations Plan’: Independent Report Blasts Philadelphia’s Handling Of George Floyd Protests, Civil Unrest

Stimulus Package Update: $2,000 Checks Coming Soon? Democrats Rush To Increase Payment After Trump Demands More For Americans

Many Philadelphia International Airport Travelers Not Concerned About COVID Risk Heading Home For Holidays Despite Cases Surging