mother cat adopts baby squirrel
Gallery: Cat nurses baby squirrel as one of her ownBANGOR TOWNSHIP, MI — Bailee Schultz was catching frogs in a wooded area of his grandparents’ Bangor Township backyard several weeks ago when he heard something crying.
The 8-year-old ran inside sobbing to find his grandparents, Nowell and Stephanie Box, afraid that whatever was making the noise was dying.
When they went out to investigate, they found a baby squirrel among the leaves and pine needles on the ground. Stephanie Box said the squirrel appeared to be less than a week old because it had not yet opened its eyes. In the tree above them, she could see the squirrel’s nest.
“I was a little leery to pick it up at first, ” Stephanie said. “I picked it up in a coffee can.”
Box decided to try placing the squirrel with her cat, Oreo, who had recently given birth to a litter of five kittens. They put the squirrel, which Bailee has christened “Bushytail, ” in the “cat house, ” a straw-lined wooden house on stilts where Oreo was nursing her kittens. When they checked on the squirrel the next day, they saw him nursing side-by-side with his feline step-siblings. The Boxes have also seen Oreo licking the squirrel like she does the kittens.
“I didn’t even think about the cat eating him until one of my kids mentioned it awhile later, ” Stephanie said.
Oreo has not fully accepted Bushytail as one of the family, although she tolerates him.
“Two days ago the mom moved her babies but left the squirrel here, ” Nowell said, gesturing to the cat house. “We looked for a day and a half for the babies. When we found them, we moved them back here.”
Now the family keeps a close eye on Oreo and will not let her move the babies again until the squirrel is old enough to find food on its own.
For now, they said, Bushytail enjoys burrowing under his step-siblings to keep warm.
“The grandkids really got a kick out of it, ” Nowell Box said. “We have 14 grandkids, so each cat has 14 different names.”
When Bushytail can fend for himself, he will be able to come and go as he pleases.
“He’ll be as free as any of the cats, ” Nowell said, referring to the several cats that roam the wooded lot.