Workers at the Meriden Humane Society are marveling at a short-haired mother cat who has willingly adopted a six-day-old Rottweiler puppy that was rejected by its mother.
The tiny pup, named Charlie by Humane Society volunteers, nurses alongside a jumble of black and gray kittens recently born to Satin, who was surrendered to the shelter by an owner unable to care for her.
Charlie's mother was found by the side of the road in Meriden a couple of months ago. She gave birth to two puppies, but one was stillborn. As sometimes happens with a stillborn in the litter, the mother dog refused to accept Charlie.
Volunteers bottle-fed him every two hours, but the effort was both exhausting to humans and insufficient for the puppy, who needs to feed when he wants, said volunteer Chris Chorney.
Research indicated that a suitable substitute could be Satin, who had given birth to four kittens that have quickly warmed to Charlie.
"The kittens scrum up with him and the kittens treat him like one of their own," Chorney said. "There's a certain social benefit of small animals being with each other."
The cat-and-dog relationship is not all that unusual in certain circumstances, said Deirdre Chiaramonte, a veterinarian at the Animal Medical Center, a specialty teaching hospital in New York.
"In those types of situations, it's common," she said.
The cozy arrangement between Charlie, Satin and the kittens will likely changes as the pup grows. Full-grown male Rottweilers commonly weigh 100 pounds.
Volunteers are hoping that dog owners will volunteer their puppies to be Charlie's playmates.
"Dogs need to be with a litter of puppies, to learn to play with other dogs," Chorney said. "He has to learn to be a well-socialized dog."
By Stephen Singer