Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri's weekly Quality of Life Sweep on Wednesday turned up quite a surprise.

City employees noticed that one of the bags they were trying to move was a little heavier than normal.

A closer look revealed that there were four kittens, in a plastic container, wrapped inside the bag. Officials say the kittens appear to have been abandoned and left in the bag to be discarded.

The kittens, who are about five weeks old, are now awaiting adoption at the Stevens Swan Humane Society.

They consist of three males and one female and they’ll be ready for adoption in three to four weeks, according to Stevens Swan Executive Director Diane Broccoli.

“It’s a touching story,” Palmieri said, “but it’s also a teachable moment. There’s no reason to leave your animals on the side of the curb. We have a great shelter here and we’re fortunate to have Stevens-Swan Humane Society. A lot of places don’t have an organization like Stevens-Swan, and the reason we have it is so we don’t see things like abandonment.”