Are you my momma?
November 13, 2010 2:21 PM   Subscribe

I hear stories about a mother cat raising puppies as if they were her own, or a mother dog raising kittens as if they were her own. What happens to these baby animals when they grow up? Do they have identity issues?

Do they learn habits they would not otherwise learn? Videos, articles and/or anecdotes appreciated.

Some examples:
Cat adopt puppies:
Dog adopt kittens:
Dog adopts lion cub:
Cat adopts squirrel:
Monkey adopts kitten:
Crow adopts kitten:
posted by nikkorizz to Pets & Animals (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

I think "identity issues" is anthropomorphizing a bit much.

Depending on how social the species is, they might not be adequately socialized.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:36 PM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Here is my anecdata: I know one cat who was raised by a German shepherd. She was a tiny found kitten and my friend's dog immediately adopted her; it was very sweet. She even tried to nurse her, which didn't work, but she slept with her, licked her clean and loved her dearly for years. The cat turned out to be . . . a cat. Just, you know, a normal cat who did catlike things. A nice cat and all, but with no doggy traits whatsoever.
posted by mygothlaundry at 2:38 PM on November 13, 2010

"Identity issues" probably aren't the words to best describe this type of situation, but you get what I mean.
posted by nikkorizz at 2:55 PM on November 13, 2010

In Germany there is a wild boar with identity issues. It wants to be a cow.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 3:13 PM on November 13, 2010

Well, anecdotally, my sister has a cat that was raised by a dog after her mother rejected her. She does have some unusual behaviors -- she loves playing in water (turn on a faucet and she comes running) and she fetches -- but I have no idea if this is learned from the dogs or just her natural personality. (I have had cats in the past who fetch.)
posted by OolooKitty at 3:17 PM on November 13, 2010

Those aren't unusual cat behaviors at all. And additionally anecdotally, I've had two cats not raised by dogs who both played in water and fetched. They were not related and did not live with us at the same time.
posted by cooker girl at 3:22 PM on November 13, 2010

We had a neighbor whose little dog would groan quietly when petted, the closest she could manage to a purr. The dog had been raised by a cat.
posted by Ery at 3:27 PM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Anecdote. Before my time my family had a cat, Golden Guinness, who had been raised in a litter of puppies. As an adult, Guinness was apparently useless at dealing with other cats, but would stand his ground against dogs to the extent that the neighbourhood dogs knew not to mess with him. Standout stories include him taking the eyes out of the Doberman who moved in next door and didn't know better than to have a go, and tackling a security man he thought was trying to break in one night. Security man required surgery to re-attach the tendons in his hand.

3 possibilities

1. Guinness thought he was a dog
2. My parents are full of shit
3. Guinness was a normal cat with the arsehole factor notched up to extreme.
posted by arha at 3:37 PM on November 13, 2010 [7 favorites]

Since I've owned or lived with about thirty cats over the course of my life, and only one has fetched while none have played in water, it seemed like fairly unusual behavior to me. As I said, I have no idea whether she learned this from the dogs or not, but I felt it was worth mentioning as the OP was asking for anecdotes.
posted by OolooKitty at 3:55 PM on November 13, 2010

I've placed various baby rodents with rat moms over the years; some of the animals my rat moms have raised have been hamsters, mice, gerbils, a vole, and wild roof rats (_Rattus rattus_, instead of _Rattus norvegicus_.) The mice were less skittish than usual mice, the hamsters and gerbils about the same, the wild rats were still very 'wild' though not apt to bite, and the vole was a charming, cuddly little fellow, who neverthless escaped upon maturity and went to go live somewhere else.
posted by The otter lady at 4:00 PM on November 13, 2010

I've got no gripes with what you said, OolooKitty. I just thought it was relevant that those behaviors aren't unusual in cats. Apparently we're living parallel lives! I've had around 20 cats in my life and a good number of them loved playing in water and we had the two who fetched. My vet told me that the water thing isn't unusual. The fetching isn't either, I guess. Oddly enough, though, fetching behavior is more prevalent in calico cats, specifically tortoiseshell calicos.
posted by cooker girl at 4:08 PM on November 13, 2010

I recall knowing a dog that had been raised amongst loving cats from early puppyhood that tried to purr, as well.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:27 PM on November 13, 2010

About the dog purring... I've had two dogs who did the exact same thing, and neither of them were raised by cats.
posted by warble at 4:30 PM on November 13, 2010

Anecdotally, Louise Dickinson Rich, in We Took to the Woods, writes of adopting a baby skunk, which grew up both with her and her husband and a mother dog and puppies. (They tried to have the dog nurse the skunk, but the dog was built on too large a scale for a baby skunk.) The skunk played with the puppies and followed the humans everywhere, but after it grew up it began spending more and more nights away (skunks are nocturnal), and finally they just didn't see it anymore and they assumed it was off doing skunk things.
posted by JanetLand at 7:05 PM on November 13, 2010

I knew a cat who'd been raised by a dog as part of a litter of puppies. When the doorbell rang, he would run to the door, make growling noises, and sniff the visitor. He was extremely gregarious, too.
posted by grounded at 9:14 PM on November 13, 2010

Australian magpies are immensely intelligent for birds. They form complicated societies that differ as they age, they have the ability to recognize different types of predator, and they communicate with a range of very specific calls. But they're often forced out of their the nests early, and are then harassed and badgered on the ground by their maternal group until they fly. When they're on the ground, and copping a beating, people sometimes assume they're in need of rescue, and take them home.

Anecdotally, that can really mess them up. I have one that stops by my garden occasionally that walks (they do walk, but with a hopping gait), pecks rhythmically at the ground (they tend to probe and forage), and does not have a normal vocal range. It only ever clucks like a chicken. It seems to get by, but I'm almost certain someone scooped it up when it was young, and raised it in their chicken yard.
posted by Ahab at 3:17 AM on November 14, 2010

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