Shelter Cat Cares for Kittens While Their Mother Recovers from Surgery

PetMD Editorial
Published: April 17, 2018
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Wonder Woman. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Betty the Cat.

There are all sorts of superheroes, and sometimes you just happen to find one at the MSPCA-Angell Adoption Center in Boston, Massachusetts

On March 22, a cat named Church who had recently given birth to a litter of five kittens was brought into MSPCA after her owner was concerned about her health and that of the newborns. As it turns out, Church had suffered a prolapsed uterus after the kittens’ birth, according to a statement from the MSPCA. 

"The kittens were weak and underweight because they were unable to feed," says Alyssa Krieger, community outreach coordinator for the MSPCA-Angell. 

Church was declared in critical condition when she arrived at the clinic and needed emergency surgery to repair the damage. While she underwent her surgery and healed, however, her kittens still needed care. Enter: Betty. 

Found in an abandoned apartment building, Betty was lactating upon her arrival at MSPCA-Angell, though she had no kittens of her own. "It’s very possible that her lactating was some kind of hormonal response," Krieger says of the 2-year-old tabby. 

Betty's lactating wasn't the only reason that she became the perfect candidate to help Church's litter grow healthy and strong; she also instantly connected with the 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,” says Krieger. “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.'"

Betty was "very excited to see the kittens and accepted them immediately," Krieger says, adding that Betty—who became a bit protective of the kitties after meeting them—groomed them and encouraged them to nurse. 

After Betty nursed all five kittens for two days, some of the litter began to be reintroduced to Church.

"Neither cat was producing quite enough milk for all five kittens but we were very happy to see that each could support half of the litter," Krieger says. "This was truly an it-takes-a-village moments." 

Now, Church and her kittens is thriving and Betty, who is currently in foster care, is available for adoption. The kittens will be, too, once they are 10-weeks-old. Anyone interested in adopting Betty or the kittens can email for more info or visit the adoption center. 

Image via MSPCA-Angell

Read more: 10 Interesting Facts About Newborn Kittens