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Mother cat adopts squirrel

Aug. 30, 2010 at 2:15 PM

WILMOT, Ohio, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- An Ohio woman said her cat has adopted a baby squirrel as one of its litter of kittens, but experts said the experience may not end well for the squirrel.

Lisa Reichel of Wilmot said the baby squirrel fell from a maple tree in her yard and a naturalist from the Wilderness Center told her on the phone that the animal would likely soon die, the Canton Repository reported Monday.

Reichel said the baby squirrel rejected an eyedropper full of a milk-replacement substance so she attempted introducing the infant to her cat, Jingles, who had given birth to a litter of kittens about a week earlier.

"I thought maybe, if I snuck that squirrel in there underneath her other kittens, that it could find a place to latch on and nurse from her and that she wouldn't mind, if she didn't notice it," Reichel said.

She said Jingles now nurses and grooms the squirrel as one of her own kittens.

Wildlife experts said the experience may be dangerous for the squirrel later in life.

"If he opened his eyes already, he's going to associate the cat as mother and that's what we don't want," said Stephon Echague, director of animal care at Stark Parks' Sanders Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Perry Township. "Unfortunately, when the squirrel gets older, he's going to recognize cats as something friendly and not worry about being around them. But cats are true hunters and could possibly cause his death. He needs to be with other squirrels so that he knows that he is a squirrel."

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