A mother’s love is a powerful thing. Countless animal species share our parental instincts, with mothers will do anything to protect their young.
And sometimes those instincts come out even when it isn’t a mother’s actual children, but they still sense they could use some love, like a dog who comforted scared puppies at a shelter.
But what about a whole different species? That’s the unusual case for one dog who became the unlikely maternal figure for a litter of stray kittens.
A litter of six kittens was recently found by construction workers at a demolition site, and were brought to Oak Tree Animal Charity in Cumbria, England.
Caroline Yon, the charity’s intake leader, was put in charge of taking care of the kittens… but got a lot of unexpected help from her 14-year-old border collie, Skye.
The dog’s parental instincts kicked in around the stray kittens, who really needed a mother’s love.
“The kittens were starting to look a bit greasy coated as they weren’t being groomed as often as they should,” Caroline told Metro.
“Skye was a natural,” she said. “She soon had their coats shining and fluffy and she was super diligent not only ensuring they toileted after every meal, but cleaning up thoroughly afterwards.”
Caroline says Skye helps clean up after the kittens and has even disciplined them as they’ve gotten older—and doesn’t mind a little roughhousing with the young kittens.
“She’s also very calm and tolerates being used as a kitty climbing frame well,” Caroline said.
The kittens’ actual mother was likely a feral stray cat, and the shelter workers had to step up and act as a surrogate mother for the litter before they could be rehomed. Skye played an important role in this.
“With the best will in the world, as humans we can’t replicate 100% what their mum would do for them and Skye’s about the next best thing,” Caroline told BBC.
“Really, without her it would’ve been 100 times more difficult than it was. Six kittens as you can probably imagine is a lot of hard work.”
Their work has paid off: five of the six kittens have now found permanent homes, with Caroline taking home two of them herself.
“Black cats are always harder to rehome, but these are so sociable and love all the attention,” she told Metro.
She named the kittens after famous singers, with names like “Amy Winecat” and “Kitty Perry.”
These kittens are growing up well-adjusted and healthy and ready to go to good homes, thanks in large part to the unlikely parentage of a dog.
“It’s just lovely to see cats and dogs getting on so well isn’t it?” Caroline told BBC.
Sometimes the best parents are never the ones you’d expect! Good job to this dog for being such a protective mother!
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