This family photo is of a retriever (I think it was) nursing an orphan kitten. And examples of the opposite: cats nursing orphaned puppies aren't too difficult to find.
But none are so amazing as the cat who reared three ducklings along with her three kittens. They'd hatched in a barn when the kittens had just been born so, instead of eating them for breakfast, she raised them to adulthood when they continued to follow her around the farmyard. Follow this link for science broadcaster Liz Bonnin's exposition of the science behind the story:
City sippers, Robert Thompson's article in the Spring 2005 issue of the RSPCA magazine Insidenews is on the late nineteenth century water troughs in and around the city of York for animals from small dogs to horses and cattle. They were installed after free drinking water fountains for human use had reduced cholera epidemics in cities. I came across the article in my animal stories file while I was trying, without success, to find a cutting about the postmistress's cat who saw off a gunman (see 11 May blog).
'A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast...' I'd had no idea of the origin of this quotation inscribed on the back of one of the troughs in City sippers dedicated to Henry Richardson, co-founder of the RSPCA's York Branch in 1864. I must have looked it up at the time because I'd noted on the cutting that it is from Proverbs 12, 13, a thousand years before Christ, in the King James version of the Bible. Here is the verse in full:
'A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.'
It's almost two years since I published In Our Fathers' Footsteps (see under BOOKS). My latest book, One Dog and His Cop, about my cousin's police dog,was published 30 November this year (see under BOOKS).