An unlikely love story: Dog nurses kitten, becomes surrogate mother
Five years after spontaneously making milk to nurse a kitten she’d only just met, Chloe and her kitten baby Hannah are still inseparable
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Theirs is not the typical mother-daughter relationship. At least as not as far as four-legged families go.
For starters, mom Chloe is a dog. A mini bull terrier, to be exact. And her adopted daughter Hannah is, well, a cat. If this were a cartoon, they’d be chasing each other around in a ball of claws and flying fur.
For five years now the two have been inseparable almost to the point of obsession. Ever since the day Hannah showed up in Cathie Hudson’s Port Hope, Ont. pet store as a barn kitten in need of a new home, and took a liking to Hudson’s dog, Chloe.
But it’s not the fact that a dog took a kitten under her wing, erm, paw, that makes their story so remarkable. It’s how they forged their bond in the first place.
It was a customer who looked into Hudson’s shop window and noticed little Hannah – who was nine weeks old and already weaned – nursing at Chloe.
“I thought, ‘That’s nothing new, kittens would knead and nurse on anything,’ ” says Hudson, who is also a former dog breeder, and owner of My Bark Avenue Academy dog training school.
“I thought, ‘How cute, I’ll take a picture,’ and as I take a picture I watch the kitten swallow, and I think, ‘Now that’s impossible, because that dog has no milk.’ “
Hudson took a closer and noticed Chloe was producing colostrum – which the body makes just before milk comes in.
Chloe was neither pregnant, nor had she recently had puppies, which means her body spontaneously started making milk almost the moment she set eyes on Hannah.
“I could just tell there was a relationships between Chloe and this kitten like nothing I’d ever seen before,” says Hudson. “I asked the customer who brought Hannah into the store if the kitten had a home, and I said ‘She does now.’ ”
“That’s what’s so weird about it,” Hudson adds. “You couldn’t have paid me – in a dog store – to have a cat. But when I looked at those two, an hour after that kitten arrived, I kew that something amazing had happened between the two of them.”
Chloe kept producing milk for nearly six months, feeding Hannah in the front window of the shop, and stopping passersby in their tracks.
“People would walk by, look in the window and do a double take,” she says.
“A normal dog usually stops milk production at six to eight weeks. It wasn’t until the kitten, at eight months old, finally decided it didn’t want it anymore, that she stopped.”
Hudson was told by a vet that Chloe likely would not be able to get pregnant again, because nursing Hannah for so long would have thrown her cycle off.
“But afterwards, Chloe had puppies again. And the kitten, now a cat, sat there and watched the delivery and interacted with the puppies like a litter mate.”
Miriam, Hudson’s other dog, also seemed to recognize that Hannah belonged in the family.
“You could see Miriam accepting Hannah as just another puppy, and Chloe’s puppy,” says Hudson. “As far as they’re concerned, it’s a mother daughter relationship.”
Cathie took a video of Hannah nursing and posted it on YouTube garnering a degree of interest online, and making the two minor celebrities in Port Hope.
Recently, the video has seen a resurgence of popularity).
“It’s getting a new level of interest again. Because people are like, ‘What? That can’t happen!’”
These days, Hudson says the Hannah and Chloe are still inseparable.
“When I take Chloe out for a walk, Hannah sits and cries at the door the whole time,” she says.
“Once or twice a day you’ll see the two of them playing with each other. Chloe is getting a little slower, but their bond has never changed from the moment they met.”
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