If you saw a cat approaching some baby ducks, you might get a bit worried. Cats and little birds are, after all, not always on the best of terms. But nothing could be further from the truth as far as Della is concerned.
Della is a cat living on a farm in County Offaly, Ireland. Only about an hour after she gave birth to a litter of kittens, she happened upon a clutch of baby ducks who seemed to be without a mother. Because her nurturing instincts were in full swing, she gathered up the ducks and began caring for them alongside her own babies.
Della and her kittens.
On finding the ducklings, Della carried them back to her box and began to snuggle them. They didn”t seem to mind.
The farm”s owners, Ronan and Emma Lally, say that the timing was crucial in the formation of this family. Had Della encountered the ducklings only a few hours before or after she did, her hormone levels might have been very different — and she might have eaten them instead.
The ducks even nurse alongside the kittens. Not being mammals, ducklings don”t need milk, so the behavior was learned from the kittens.
But the ducks seem to have a taste for it.
And Della likes to snuggle everyone.
As the ducks grew, their innate duckishness began to show. One of the characteristics of that includes the ducklings wandering off from the box, out of Della”s sight. Kittens stay close to their mothers for longer, so this seemed to alarm Della. She spent a lot of time chasing after them and collecting them back into the box.
She picks them up the way she would kittens.
Today, the ducks have their feathers and, since ducks grow faster than kittens, are currently much larger than their adopted siblings. They still like to follow their mom around, though, forming the classic duck line as the family walks around the farm. It goes to show that sometimes the strangest combinations can make for the cutest families.
See this darling family in action:
Now that they have an established bond, it seems like Della and her family are a unit from here on. Hopefully we”ll get to see some more footage of this strange, but wonderful, family!