Overly maternal cat raises baby ducks as her own

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On a quaint Irish farm, an overly maternal cat has set aside her feline instincts to make some unusual friends.

Normally farm cats have a devastating impact on bird wildlife. With unfettered access to the outdoors and nothing but time, they are relentless predators of birds, especially newborn hatchlings.

This is why Ronan and Emma Lally expected disaster when they realized their latest ducklings had escaped confinement on their farm, becoming sitting ducks for their pet cat, Dalla.

When they rushed outside, at first it seemed they were too late—Dalla was already holding a duckling in her mouth. But upon further investigation, they discovered she was gently corralling the little ducks into a safe area where she could look after the vulnerable birds.

Why would a cat resist its hunting urges and instead provide care for its natural prey? Ronan and Lally think the answer may stem from the fact that Dalla had just given birth herself. During the surge of hormones that accompanies the process, Dalla may have taken responsibility for the ducklings on top of her own litter.

Remarkably, the ducklings have actually learned to nurse on Dalla’s milk. Eventually they will need to be separated from the other kittens, but for now it’s one big happy family.

You can watch the whole episode of the BBC One show Animal Odd Couples here.