Each farm has a farm cat (more often than not)! We’re pretty sure that farm cats adore farm animals more than cats that didn’t grow up on a farm because they’re familiar with them, they hang out with them on a regular, and they aren’t threatened by them.
We’re also sure that farm cats adore farm ducks, even though the two were never meant to be BFFs.
Now, cats are known to be reserved, detached, and standoffish when they’re trying to figure out whether something’s a threat or not. Cats are affectionate and appreciative when they want to be; but when they don’t, they’re known to become aggressive and attack whatever’s threatening them.
Ducks, on the other hand, are famous for being outgoing and extroverted when they’re around other ducks. Ducklings are known to eat, sleep, and repeat for the most part. Ducks and ducklings don’t threaten cats, right?
Cats are predators and they’re naturally drawn to critters, crawling creatures, and animals that are smaller than them. They aren’t keen on attacking anything that’s bigger than them because they’re also naturally drawn to keeping themselves safe and secure.
But, when we’re talking about cats and ducks, there doesn’t seem to be a clean-cut, one-size-fits-all answer. Before you rule out the possibility of your cat attacking your ducks or ducklings, remember that cats can be ticked off and triggered by something as simple as a duckling’s soft, shrilling whistles.
Cats aren’t above the thought of hunting down a duckling or two, and that’s the reason why most farmers suggest you shouldn’t leave cats and ducklings unattended.
However, when Ronan and Emma Lally, owners of a farm in Count Offaly, Ireland, accidentally left a cat named Della unattended with a brood of newly hatched ducklings, that’s not at all what happened. Within an hour of birthing adorable, affectionate kittens, Della came across three newly hatched ducklings.
Rather than attacking them, Della scooped them off the ground, brought them back with her, and nurtured them together with her kittens. Now, Della was probably wondering why the mother duck wasn’t there to protect and care for her ducklings. But, Ronan and Emma were the ones to blame (sort of).
Ronan and Emma wanted to make the farm family bigger by purchasing a batch of fertilized duck eggs. When they brought the eggs back to the farm, the couple spent hours and hours waiting for the ducklings to hatch, checking on the eggs, and going back to the barn to welcome the ducklings.
When they went to the barn to check on the eggs on the day of the odd affair, they were surprised to chance on cracked eggs; but, the ducklings were nowhere to be found. Ronan and Emma couldn’t fathom what had happened and the couple started searching for them.
Ronan remembered that the cat might have hopped down from the pigeonhole, found the ducklings, and scoffed them down. Because that’s what everyone would’ve expected the cat to do, right?
They were expecting the worst when, after rummaging through the farm for 6 hours, they stumbled upon Della with a duckling hanging from her mouth.
“Oh no,” Ronan uttered. “She’s going to eat them right there and then!” he thought and rushed to check whether the other two ducklings were safe. But, when he approached Della, he realized that she wasn’t attacking the ducklings, she was nurturing them with her kittens.
And, when Ronan recovered from the shock, he noticed that the ducklings weren’t scared of Della. Della was encouraging them, keeping them warm, and even putting her paw around them to protect them.
When Della’s kittens stopped nursing, the ducklings approached her and started suckling with their little beaks, too. Ronan and Emma were too stunned to speak.
Now, according to Ronan and Emma, the timing of the event couldn’t have been better. Because Della had birthed her kittens an hour or two beforehand, her hormones heightened her motherly, nurturing instincts and intuition.
Before she even knew whether or not the ducklings had a mother, she rushed to feed them, keep them warm, and protect them. Had she come across the ducklings a little earlier or a little later, she might have eaten them.
Della and her ducklings became an odd foster family. Della’s ducklings followed her around, played with her kittens, and mimicked her kitten’s behavior. Della adored her ducklings and happily protected them and cared for them for weeks and weeks.
But, the ducklings were growing up faster than the kittens and they started acting more like ducks (as they should). Della wasn’t happy about the fact that she couldn’t keep them close to her anymore, but she was happy that they were becoming better at fending for themselves.
Della’s ducklings aren’t ducklings anymore, but the unbreakable bond between them and Della grows stronger with each day. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the odd foster family continues to break stereotypes and make Ronan and Emma’s farm a better, brighter place!