A novel plan hatched by friends of Pusha the cat saves the lives of four baby squirrels.
By Published on 1 May 2019
It is often said that a maternal instinct - to swaddle, to shower with affection and to care - is strong in female animals. Of cats we may think a line would be drawn of their raising an animal with which they have a troubled history, but Pusha's story proves otherwise.
Pusha lived a solitary existence in a small play park in the city. When a group of friends from Bakhchisaray in the Crimea found four baby squirrels abandoned by their mother they wondered whether Pusha may be interested in stepping in to care for them.
Nervously they introduced Pusha to the little squirrel kits but soon observed with delight how well she took to them. Perhaps fortunately, squirrel kits are blind until they are about two or three months old, which indirectly may have helped their cause and allowed the cat to get close enough to care for them.
Soon, the squirrels were suckling from Pusha and allowing her to groom them, and it does seem - for now at least - as though the squirrels and the cat are living in harmony.
Interspecies relationships are not uncommon in the natural world. In Kenya, a baby hippopotamus orphaned by an Indian Ocean tsunami was looked after and cared for by a 130-year-old giant male Aldabran tortoise called Mzee. In Bali, a wild long-tailed macaque monkey has been observed nuzzling and grooming a small kitten as though it was one of her own. In Namibia, a meerkat was recently seen cuddling up to a Siberian husky for warmth and protection.
The UK’s stance on the rescue of orphaned squirrels is controversial. From last year the grey squirrel was deemed an ‘invasive’ species and as such vets or land-owners who encounter injured or orphaned grey squirrels are legally obliged to kill them. Red squirrels remain a protected species.