CANADA — A rabbit became a foster mom to half a dozen kittens that were left orphaned when their mother was fatally shot near her New Brunswick home.
Dave and Ruth Chamberlain let their cat Tea Biscuit outside on a Saturday before leaving their home in Turtle Creek.
When they returned about four hours later, their orange cat was literally nowhere in sight.
The Chamberlains eventually became worried about Tea Biscuit, who had just recently given birth to six kittens.
The reason for her absence became clear early Sunday morning when they opened up their door to find her lying on the step with a bullet wound.
Somehow she had dragged herself back to the home, but she wasn’t able to go any further.
They wrapped her up gently in a towel and brought her inside.
“She let her kittens nurse and tried to do her mother instinct thing, but she couldn’t respond to them. She couldn’t move,” Dave said. “She had a .22 bullet right through her rib cage and out her back flank.”
Tea Biscuit died just a few hours later, leaving the Chamberlains with six helpless — and hungry — kittens to care for.
With no surrogate mother cat available, Dave decided to do the next best thing — Miss California, one of the rabbits he raises.
“She has two baby rabbits of her own and when she goes in the nest box to nurse, the kittens nurse too,” he stated.
But while Miss California’s ministrations seem to be working for the moment, Dave said it’s not a good long-term solution.
“Rabbits only nurse every 10 to 12 hours and kittens nurse more often and the mother lays with them and snuggles with them,” he explained.
“It is different ways the two mothers operate. The kittens aren’t crying, so I hope that it is working. … All we can do is keep our fingers crossed.”
Dave said he’d been trying to find another mother cat that has kittens that are around the same age to see if she might foster the little orphans.
“But it would have to be an older mother cat that is a real mother-mother,” he says. “If we can get another week or two into them so they start eating, then we’ll be safe.”
Dave concluded, it makes him angry to think of someone shooting his cat Tea Biscuit, but said they have no way to prove who might have done it.