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Adopted kitten nursed to health with Saskatoon dog's milk

When a Saskatoon woman brought home a stray kitten, her dog Bella took over as a mother and has been nursing the cat to health.

Maternal instinct trumps biological boundaries as a dog nurses kitten to health

Maternal instinct trumps biological boundaries as a dog nurses kitten to health 1:36

Sitting in her living room with her dog and a newly adopted black kitten, a Saskatoon woman couldn't believe her eyes when all of a sudden her dog, Bella, starting nursing the new kitten Eclipso.

"She wasn't even that way with her own puppies," Rachelle Lietz said about Bella. 

Two weeks ago, Lietz drove to Manitou Beach, Sask., about 120 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon, to visit family. While there they spotted a kitten on the side of the road, abandoned. Without a second thought, Lietz adopted the tiny, scrawny kitten on the spot.

Upon their return to Saskatoon, Eclipso met Lietz's dog Bella, who just a year ago had some complications when it came to nursing and taking care of her five-pup litter.
Rachelle Lietz with her dog Bella and new kitten Eclipso in Saskatoon. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC)

"They were all healthy, but she got sick a little while after and she couldn't eat enough food to feed them, so then the grandma, Pandora —she lives with my parents— she started lactating and feeding the puppies," Lietz told CBC News.

But on Sunday afternoon, Bella's maternal instincts kicked in and she surprised the entire family by letting Eclipso nuzzle in and start nursing.

"Bella just kind of sniffed at him and flipped over a bit and all of a sudden the kitten … latched on and Bella was just sitting there letting the kitten nurse and we said, 'What's going on?'"

"I think that motherly instinct will surpass any biological boundaries," Lietz said, adding Bella plays with Eclipso, something she didn't do at all for her own pups.

"They were nipping at each other's ears, and it was really interesting to see that she would go and check up on the kitten."

Lietz said the name Eclipso came from the kitten's off-black shade of fur, reminding Lietz of the colour of the moon when it's in eclipse.
Bella is nursing a newly adopted cat named Eclipso, something Bella didn't do for her own puppies. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC)

But Eclipso's future is uncertain. Lietz said she's allergic to cats and wants to find Eclipso a home, but it will take some time, especially now that Eclipso is nursing from Bella.

"Today she's been nursing the kitten all afternoon. She's barely stopped," said Lietz.

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