The first time Chloe the dog was presented with two newborn kittens to feed and care for, “she kind of gave me a funny look,” says foster mom Mary Rowland.
And fair enough. Chloe already had a lot on her plate.
It had only been about a month since the then-heavily pregnant dog landed in a Houston animal shelter — and quickly wound up on the euthanasia list.
A rescue group called Houston Pets Alive got Chloe out, and into Mary’s home. Two weeks later, 12-pound Chloe gave birth to eight puppies. Three died, but Chloe busied herself caring for her remaining five; a cute, demanding bunch.
Then someone left two tiny kittens in a shoebox outside a local PetSmart, where Houston Pets Alive has a cattery.
“We unfortunately didn’t have any nursing mama cats who could feed them,” says Kristen Auld, Houston Pets Alive’s volunteer marketing manager.
Mary had seen videos interspecies feedings — like a dog who mommied an orphaned raccoon and a cat nursing puppies — and it put the idea in her head that maybe Chloe could be a surrogate, and expand her family in this most adorable way.
Two veterinarians gave enthusiastic OKs. Chloe was only slightly more skeptical. It took just a moment for her to accept the newcomers into her fold.
“She is a wonderful mom,” says Mary. “The kittens immediately started nursing. That was it.”
Puppies Basil, Phoenix, Clementine, Hazel, Jasmine and their kitten siblings Olivia and Smokey are getting bigger and stronger every day. Which is awfully nice to see, even if it does present the occasional challenge.
Mary has just introduced wet food to the kittens — to wean them off Chloe — but the puppies have a taste for it, too. So, there’s some finagling around mealtime.
And the puppies, while still itty bitty, are bigger than the kitties. Mary has to watch them carefully, to ensure no dangerous roughhousing.
But the main thing Mary has come away with is how easy, and fulfilling, it’s been to save all these lives — the pregnant mom, her puppies, and the unexpected kittens — thanks to some creative animal rescuers and the miracle of dog.
“I would do it again in a heartbeat,” says Mary. “She’s an amazing, amazing little dog.”
In another month or so, this group will be getting spayed and neutered, and going up for adoption. Stay tuned for updates on the Houston Pets Alive Facebook page. Here’s where to donate to their care.