That’s Mommy to you

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

Roxy is a pit bull who is expected to have a litter of her own pups one day, but right now, she’s getting plenty of practice. She’s raising kittens.

Zach Stegner was at work at the Sweet Home Sanitation transfer station when he found the litter of five kittens.

“I guess the mom’s a wild cat, and she just left them there,” said Kayla Smith, Stegner’s fiancé. “We let them stay there for a couple days to make sure she wasn’t going to take them back.”

When it was clear the kittens’ mother wasn’t returning, Stegner brought them home.

Smith kept the kittens away from Roxy initially and bottle fed the kittens. The runt of the litter wouldn’t eat off the bottle, and Smith was afraid they would lose him. Fortunately, Roxy took over.

After a couple of days, she let the kittens near the dog. She took to the kittens immediately, and the kittens took to her.

“When we brought them here, she didn’t have any milk,” Smith said. The kittens started suckling immediately although the dog was dry. Somehow, Roxy soon started producing milk.

“I knew she wouldn’t hurt them,” she said of introducing the dog to the kittens. “I thought maybe she’d be a little nervous, but she started licking them. They started trying to find a (nipple).”

Roxy is about 11 months old and has been in heat once, Smith said. “I don’t know how it happened. It’s just crazy.”

Dr. David Larsen of Sweet Home Veterinary Clinic said “that’s a normal process in a dog. The ovarian cycle in a dog is the same with or without pregnancy.”

The ovulation period is similar to a false pregnancy and many dogs will lactate, Larsen said. “It’s more severe in some dogs than others.”

If the dog was producing a little milk, he said, the kittens’ suckling easily could have stimulated more milk production.

“She acts like a real mother,” said Andrew Jackson Hockett, Smith’s little brother.

“If we take them away, she has a heart attack,” Smith said.

If the family separates the kittens from Roxy, placing them in a box in another room, “she’ll bring them out one by one,” Smith said. “She won’t even hurt them. She won’t let our male pit bull near them.”

Larsen said it’s not uncommon.

“You see stories like this all the time,” he said.

An Internet search turns up hordes of such photos and videos.

“The dog also has a maternal instinct,” Larsen said, and that can drive a female dog to even mother her toys.

Smith is planning to give the kittens away, she said. “There’s no way I need this many kittens.”

Her home has two pit bulls; two cats, who want nothing to do with the kittens; and two rats already. Smith is planning to breed the pit bulls once or twice.

The kittens are around three weeks old. She’ll be ready to give them away in another four or five weeks. Anyone interested may contact Smith at 401-7812.