JACKSON COUNTY, MI – Kela arrived at the Jackson County Animal Shelter pregnant, but even after giving birth to 10 puppies she couldn’t resist bringing another stray into her litter — a tiny abandoned kitten.
Kela arrived at the shelter from a shelter in Van Buran County. The Great Dane-mix is timid and selective of people, especially around her puppies, which are now 2 weeks old, Animal Shelter Director Lydia Sattler said.
The shelter staff kept Kela near the front by the office so she could socialize better, but no one expected her to take interest the abandoned 2-week-old male kitten that came in.
“The kitten came back in a box to see the vet. Kela was on the other side of the door, and this kitten was crying and (Kela) was scratching at the door,” Sattler said. “And I’m like, ‘What is wrong with her?’”
So, Sattler opened the door, and the dog ran right to the box the kitten was in. Sattler tried moving her away at first, worried she might want to hurt the kitten, but Kela was persistent.
“She just wouldn’t take her eyes off it, like it was her own,” Sattler said. “So, I’m like, ‘OK, let me try something.’”
She put the dog on a leash and added the kitten to the rest of Kela’s litter. As soon as she did, the dog laid back down and started to clean the kitten, as if it was one of her puppies.
Since then, the kitten has become an official member of Kela’s litter. He gets along with his doggie siblings, and Kela takes care of him just like she does all of her puppies — cleaning him, cuddling with him and even nursing him.
You can always find the kitten right by the mother’s paws, Sattler said.
“She seems almost more protective over the kitten,” Sattler said. “She always puts her nose on it to make sure he’s there and he’s OK.”
It’s uncommon for a dog to take in another baby animal, especially one of a different species, Sattler said. Sometimes a mother will care for an orphaned animal if prompted by a person, but it’s rare to see a dog initiate the “adoption” and so immediately become tied to a kitten like this, she said.
Sattler said she believes the connection is because of Kela’s natural motherly instincts and sweet, loving nature.
Kela, her puppies — and the kitten — are now being fostered by Jackson residents Gene and Sue Chapel.
The Chapels have fostered homeless animals from time to time, but a dog that’s adopted a kitten is a little different than what they’re used to.
“Never seen it, but I looked it up online and I’ve heard it’s not out of the question,” Gene Chapel said.
Kela’s relationship with the kitten has stayed the same since arriving at their home, the Chapels said.
“She’s an excellent mother,” Sue Chapel said.
Kela, the puppies and the kitten will be fostered until the puppies and kitten are about 8 weeks old. After that, they will be put up for adoption, along with Kela. Sattler said it would be great if Kela and the kitten could stay together, she said.
“She just loves this kitten,” Sattler said.
The kitten is still unnamed, and the animal shelter is hosting a contest to name it. People can put their ideas in a post on the Jackson County Animals Shelter’s Facebook page. The winner will receive a $50 gift card to Nevermore Décor Store, 120 W. Michigan Ave., Suite 102, in Jackson.
People can visit the animal shelter at 3370 Spring Arbor Road. Other adoption resources can be found by emailing [email protected].
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