Hand-Reared Baby Squirrel Thinks He's a Kitten

When the little fellow fell out of a tree, a nursing cat took him into her litter

Taking in cats that need homes is part of everyday life for Karen and Jim Watkins. As animal lovers who fervently support rescue, the Carthage, Miss., couple frequently gets calls from vets who ask, “Can you handle one more?”

The latest quintet of felines to move into the Watkins’ home – mom Emme and her 2-week-old litter of kittens – came with a little extra baggage … a baby squirrel named Rocky. But the newcomer proved to be an adaptable little creature.

“The squirrel thinks he’s a cat!” Jim Watkins tells PEOPLEPets.com. “He’ll purr just like a cat will.”

Emme, formerly a feral cat, was originally taken in by an elderly woman who noticed that the cat was very pregnant. At the same time, the woman picked up a baby squirrel that had fallen out of a tree.

“She couldn’t put the squirrel back in the tree, so she did the next best thing and put it with the cat to see if [the cat] would accept it,” Watkins says. “Emme readily accepted the squirrel.”

The woman’s apartment building didn’t allow animals, however, so the cats (and squirrel) needed to be relocated. They ended up with the Watkins, who have been caring for the family along with 13 other cats who are waiting to find permanent homes. The Watkins are in the process of setting up a rescue organization called Central Mississippi T.A.I.L.S. (Taking Animals Into Loving Shelters), and they hope to educate people in the area about spaying and neutering pets.

“Emme will probably be the spokescat for T.A.I.L.S.,” Watkins says. “She loves people and is as pleasant with strangers as she is with us. She’s a real outgoing cat.”

Emme is still busy nursing her litter, squirrel included, but her kittens have just opened their eyes and will be adopted as soon as they are ready. Rocky, who has just had his first taste of a pecan nut, will stay on at the Watkins’ house.

“I don’t think he would ever make it out on his own [in the wild], being raised the way he is,” Watkins says. “I’m afraid to show him a mirror. If he ever saw himself, he would wonder why he was so different from the others!”

See more animal surrogates on PEOPLEPets.com:
Interspecies Baby Love! Animal Surrogates
Rottweiler Becomes Surrogate Mom to Abandoned Piglet

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