The maternal instincts of a cat named Betty has earned her hero status for saving the lives of a newborn litter of kittens.
On March 22, a cat named Church suffered a prolapsed uterus while giving birth to five kittens. Church's owner, not realizing anything was wrong with her cat, planned on bringing the kittens to the MSPCA for adoption once they were old enough to be separated from their mom.
But when Church's health continued to deteriorate, she could no longer nurse her newborn kittens — all of whom were growing steadily weaker.
So Church's owner called the MSPCA sooner than expected and brought Church in for emergency surgery. Church recovered, but not enough to care for her kittens.
Enter Betty: a 2-year-old orange tab cat had been dropped off at the shelter prior to Church's arrival after she was abandoned in an apartment building. It just so happened that Betty was lactating, despite not having any kittens of her own. Alyssa Krieger, the community outreach coordinator at the MSPCA, introduced Church's kittens to Betty in hopes that she would nurse them back to health.
Sure enough, Betty was able to help the five kittens. Church recovered to the point she was able to nurse some of her kittens, too, which worked out perfectly since Betty wasn't able to produce enough milk for all five kittens.
"It's extremely rare for us to have a mom cat who is able to take over kitten care for another, and we often have to resort to bottle feeding kittens," Krieger said. "But we were lucky that Betty was able and willing to foster these kittens while their mother recovered because there are so many nutritional and socialization benefits of a 'real mom.'"
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
Betty was transferred to a foster home with one of the kittens, while Church returned home to her family with the other four. After 10 weeks, all five kittens will be available for adoption — as will Betty, once the weaning process ends.