Nest Full of … Kittens?

A pet shop owner in Ireland found a cat and her kittens in a tree's bird nest.

Imagine this: A pet shop owner in Ireland hears some squawking coming from his backyard garden so he goes up a ladder to see what all the ruckus is about and, to borrow a phrase common among the Irish to express disbelief — “Geezuz, Mary and Joseph!”  — instead of baby birds, he finds four newborn kittens. Henry McGauley and his wife Fiona, who own and operate Ardee Pet Supplies in County Louth, Ireland, believe the kittens were born in the nest, which sits about 8 feet off the ground and is nestled amongst ivy branches. Mom cat wasn’t home at the time (maybe, knowing that her kittens were sure to quickly outgrow their twig digs, she was out scouting their next move … a dog’s house or rabbit’s den?).  The McGauleys have the habit of feeding the neighborhood stray cats, and they recognized the white mom cat as a local alley cat.

The story is intriguing on many levels. First, who was doing all that squawking to grab Mr. McGauley’s attention? Perhaps it was a none-too-happy mom bird who spent days constructing the perfect nest only to find a feline squatter, no doubt learning the hard way that, while the early bird gets the worm, she doesn’t always get to keep her own nest. (For the record, the McGauleys suspect the nest belonged to a pair of wood pigeons, which vacated the nest a few days before the cats were discovered in it.)

Second, why, of all places, a bird’s nest? Maybe mom cat was hoping to do what so many human moms do best, multi-task — i.e., enjoy her own meal while nursing.  On second thought, perhaps she wasn’t trying to pull off a modern-day “Red Riding Hood” but rather saw the perfect spot to protect her kitties from predators on the ground and she pounced on the opportunity. You do have to give her kudos for being creative. Not too many kittens are afforded a bird’s eye view as soon as their eyes begin to open. Yet, this true-life tale takes place in Ireland, land of rainbows and rain showers, and it looks like mom cat recently had to relocate her brood for a more rain-proofed area after a heavy shower. According to Mrs. McGauley, the kittens — three ginger-and-white and one tabby — are now likely keeping dry and cozy under a shed with their mom.

In a statement to ABC News, the couple indicated that they plan on taking the kittens under their wing when they’re a bit older and then find permanent homes for them. They certainly have the connections to do so. “A lot of our customers are in love with the kittens and excited for when they’re old enough to adopt,” Mrs. McGauley shared with ABC News. In the meantime, they anticipate mom cat bringing her little furry “nestlings” to their back door to dine on some healthy handouts.

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