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Terrier Tina raised two kittens

It was a dark Christmas for two lost kittens, but their rescue came from an unlikely source. MARK PACEY from the Wairarapa Archive retells the story of Tina the compassionate fox terrier.

Just before Christmas in 1965 at a farm in Kokotau, a cat gave birth to three kittens. The small animals came into a new world that bewildered them, but they were comforted by the fact that they had a mother who loved them and would look after them.

But it was not to be. The cat was overwhelmed by her new family, she had always wanted a baby, but three babies were too much for her to handle. She picked the kitten that she wanted to rear and then had to decide what to do with the other two. It would be cruel to abandon them and leave them to fend for themselves, especially as they were only days old. If only there was someone that could raise them for her. And then she thought of Tina.

Tina was a miniature fox terrier who also lived on the farm. She was a bit older and had not been able to have any of her own pups for some time, but she did want to be a mother. She watched on sadly as the other animals on the farm had families, but she remained without her own.

It was on a fateful day that a union was to be made that would alter the course of the sad and unwanted farm animals. Tina was going about her usual canine activities when she saw something she did not expect to see. The farm cat with two kittens. Cats and dogs do not traditionally get along and it seemed foolish to Tina that cat would deliberately bring her babies to her natural enemy. But Tina was not like that, she had a kind soul, and the cat could sense that.

Tina observed as the cat came forward with her two babies. She then watched in amazement as the cat then left the bewildered kittens at Tina’s paws and trotted away. The kittens were upset. Why was there mum leaving then with this strange looking cat? They chased after her and back to her den to join their sibling.

But as the days progressed, the mother cat continued to take the two spare kittens over to Tina. Each time she left them there, and each time they followed her back. Finally, reality sunk in. Their mother didn’t want them and they were not welcome with her.

But they were not alone. Even though this animal they had been taken to each time looked a bit strange for a cat and smelled funny, she was very friendly and welcoming so they decided they would be better off staying with her. Of course, Tina was delighted. She had always wanted a family and now she had two babies that she could call her own.

But young kittens are also hungry kittens and they demanded feeding. Eventually Tina was able to produce milk for the pair.

One would be forgiven for thinking that this is a work of fiction, but it did really happen and even made it into the Times-Age. The photo reprinted here, and an accompanying story were printed in the local paper on 23 December 1965. And despite the fact it was a match that many believed would never work out, in the end it did.

And what became of the two abandoned kittens who were not wanted by their mother, and of the loving fox terrier that always wanted to be a mother? They lived happily ever after.

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