Source: CTV News (Extract)
Posted: September 28, 2023

A dog on a ranch near Barrhead, Alta., is feline fine about mothering abandoned kittens.

When the mother went missing about a week and a half after delivering a litter, ranchers Kelli Geinger and Cal Brown faced having to come up with a Plan B to feed and care for them.

Geinger had been checking on the nursing mom and her babies regularly after they were born in a stack of hay when, one day, mama cat simply vanished.

“I was watching her every day to see when she was going to have them so I knew where they were, so they won’t become wild,” Geinger told CTV News Edmonton on Wednesday, recalling the days following the kittens’ births. “I checked on them constantly, and then she wasn’t around. She wasn’t there for feeding in the morning when we feed the cats. She wasn’t there in the afternoon. She wasn’t there that night.”

After another day minus the mother, Geinger dug through the stack of hay, found the kittens and brought them inside the house.

That’s where their three-year-old border collie Jade came in.

Knowing she couldn’t simply give kittens cow’s milk, Geinger recalled Jade had been “acting weird in the last week and a half as if she’s going to have puppies.”

“She started digging holes as if it’s a nest, she started begging up,” Geinger said.

After consulting with a veterinarian, who reassured her that dogs indeed can go through false pregnancies — Jade had also delivered a litter of puppies in the spring — Geinger thought pairing her with the kittens was worth trying.

“I thought, ‘It’s a shot in the dark. Let’s try it.’ So I opened the door. She comes right in, she went right to the bathroom where those kitties were, and she went to licking (cleaning) them and mothering them.”

The kittens, weakened as they hadn’t eaten for more than a day, “just started crawling on her looking for feed,” Geinger said.

“She just laid there, and she was licking them like crazy because they hadn’t been licked or mothered for over 24 hours … It was amazing.”

Now, almost three weeks after they were born, the kittens are being mothered by Jade and getting a vet-supplied supplement from Geinger, “tag teaming this little litter of kittens,” she said.

“Teamwork makes the dream work, right?” Geinger said. “Those kittens are starting to flourish. I’ve weighed them. Their bellies are full. She licks them, so I know they’re going to the bathroom.”