Is there anything more heart-melting than interspecies friendships? It’s especially adorable when the tenderness is between two animals who are commonly known to have “mixed feelings” towards one another. Or when one friend is quite large and the other is quite small. Well, Bertie the one-year-old Labrador Retriever and his litter of kittens are both. No wonder he and his new kitty companions are spreading so many smiles across the internet.
How exactly did this two-week-old litter of kittens have the opportunity to befriend this loveable Labrador? Well, a passing driver noticed seven extremely young kittens were all alone on the side of the road. Unfortunately, their mother was nowhere in sight. So the traveler scooped them up and brought them to Battersea, a southeast England animal rescue organization.
After a veterinary exam, they determined that the kittens were hungry but otherwise healthy. Rachel, Bertie’s mom and head nurse at Battersea, volunteered to take the kittens home to raise them until they were ready for adoption. Kittens younger than eight weeks old who have been separated from their mother require the same love and nurturing that they would have received from mom. Frequent bottle feedings, being kept warm, and help with using their litterbox are required by their human caretakers.
“These kittens have certainly been a handful, from the early days when they needed bottle feeding round the clock, to when they first discovered the joys of climbing. Not only has Bertie helped the kittens become confident, sociable little cats, he’s also kept me entertained,” Rachel said.
As head nurse, Rachel knew that the kittens would require constant care, but didn’t necessarily expect her canine companion to take to being their guardian. The kittens would run to him for kisses and affection and then snuggle close to his body for comfort and warmth. Bertie stepped right in as an incredible surrogate “mother.”
Before befriending the kittens, Bertie was well known for being friendly and gentle, but the way he nurtured these tiny kittens even surprised Rachel. He too found his forever home through Battersea.
“As a former Battersea resident himself, there’s something particularly touching about seeing a rescue pet now helping to rescue other animals in need. I’m incredibly proud of Bertie for the way he has cared for the kittens over the last few weeks. At less than two years old, he’s barely an adult himself, but you wouldn’t think it when you see how incredibly patient and nurturing he has been,” she added.
Bertie and Rachel raised the kittens together in their home until all seven kittens were able to wean and use their litterbox on their own. Then, they temporarily lived at Battersea until all seven of them found loving, forever homes.
“Hand rearing kittens is such a wonderfully rewarding experience; you get to help them grow from tiny defenseless babies into unique characters ready for a loving home. I was sad to see them go, but I can take comfort in knowing that Bertie and I helped give them the best start in life. I suspect Bertie may also have been enjoying the peace and quiet once his young charges had gone. He’d certainly earned it” said Rachel.
Battersea relies upon donations to raise the necessary resources to continue to care for and save abandoned animals. If you would like to donate to support dogs like Bertie, you can check out their website by clicking here. https://donate.battersea.org.uk.