Great parents come in many forms.For one litter of kittens, their brilliant mum is Skye, a 14-year-old border collie. And why on earth not? The kittens, five girls and one boy, were found by builders at a demolition site and handed into Oak Tree Animal Charity in Wetheral, Cumbria. Caroline Yon, the intake team leader at the charity, took on the role of foster carer and hand-reared the kittens, feeding them around the clock.
She got her dog, Skye, involved – and the connection was instant.
Soon Skye began to care for the litter as if they were her own.Skye has helped look after other young animals before, having raised two of her own litters as well as the puppies of Caroline’s old dog, Dodger, and she once offered her assistance when Caroline had to take care of some orphaned lambs.
The dog is a total natural when it comes to parenting, grooming them, snoozing together, and patiently sitting as the kittens use her as a climbing frame.Caroline said: ‘The kittens were starting to look a bit greasy coated as they weren’t being groomed as often as they should.
Instead of buying special Kong stuffing, stuff a Kong with cheese cubes and place in the microwave for five seconds.
‘With six in the litter, meal times could take an hour by the time they were all fed, winded and toileted.
‘Skye was a natural, 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.
‘She’s also very calm and tolerates being used as a kitty climbing frame well.’
It’s thought that the kittens’ birth mother was feral. Staff managed to catch her and have her spayed, but she wasn’t interested in the kittens so was released back into the area.
Five of the kittens have now found homes, while one black kitten is looking for a family.
Staff at the animal centre believe the mother cat may have been feral.
Caroline, who has adopted two of the kittens herself, added: ‘Black cats are always harder to rehome, but these are so sociable and love all the attention.
‘We have given them all names of well-known singers.‘Mine are called Amy Winecat and Paloma Peanut. We also have a Kitty Perry and a Shakira Sam.’
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