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A group of abandoned kittens have proved everyone needs a mother figure in their life - same species not compulsory.
14-year-old Border Collie Skye has become a surrogate mum to the litter and now nurtures them as if they were her own.
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The doting dog does everything shy of producing milk for the babies, cleaning them, grooming them, playing with them and snuggling up to them.
Now just weeks old, the kittens were found by builders at a demolition site and taken to Oak Tree Animal Charity in Wetheral, Cumbria.
The tiny kittens - five girls and one boy - instantly took to Skye, who has experience in nurturing other orphaned animals at the centre.
Caroline Yon, Skye's owner and intake team leader at the charity, explains she's enlisted the Border Collie's help with rearing small animals in the past, even helping with orphaned lambs.
"Skye has a history of nurturing baby animals of all kinds. She had two litters of her own when she was very young and helped raise a litter sired by my old Collie, Dodger," says Caroline.
"She has also helped with orphaned lambs, so she was the obvious choice to fulfil some of the duties that a mother cat would instinctively do."
Skye, a rescue dog herself, looks after the kittens as if they were her own puppies, cleaning them after toilet time and grooming their coats.
"The kittens were starting to look a bit greasy coated as they weren't being groomed as often as they should," Caroline added.
"With six in the litter, meal times could take an hour by the time they were all fed, winded and toileted.
"Skye was a natural, she soon had their coats shining and fluffy and she was super diligent not only ensuring they toileted after every meal, but cleaning up thoroughly afterwards.
"She's also very calm and tolerates being used as a kitty climbing frame well."
Staff at the rescue centre believe the kitten's mother may have been feral.
"We managed to catch her and brought her to Oak Tree and had her tested and spayed, but she wasn't interested in the kittens, so we returned her to the area we found her," the charity worker added.
After being nurtured in their first weeks of life, five of the kittens have gone on to find happy homes, with Caroline adopting two herself. However one black kitten is still looking.
"Black cats are always harder to rehome, but these are so sociable and love all the attention," Caroline added.
"We have given them all names of well-known singers.
"Mine are called Amy Winecat and Paloma Peanut. We also have a Kitty Perry and a Shakira Sam."
For more information on adopting an animal, visit Oak Trees Animal Charity's website here.
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