6 min read

Rescue Dog Comforts Lonely Shelter Kitten Who Lost Her Family

"She doesn’t have a mum or brothers or sisters, so Barney has become her best friend and favorite playmate.”

Natural instinct predicts that dogs and cats shouldn’t get along. The two species have had a famously antagonistic relationship through the years.

Just don’t tell Labrador retriever Barney …

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home

Barney was still a young puppy when his owners decided that they were unable to care for him, and brought him to Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in the UK. It was there that the rambunctious Labrador met the clinic’s head nurse, Rachel Ab’dee, and both knew instantly that Barney would be going home with her.

Ab'dee had a soft spot for Labradors and their happy, easygoing nature, but wanted to give other families a chance to adopt Barney before filling out the paperwork herself. “I had recently lost my own Labrador retriever and my first thought upon seeing Barney was, ‘I’d love to have him,’ but I thought that he would find a home very quickly," Ab’dee told The Dodo. "When a week had passed and Barney was still in kennels without a home, I knew it was meant to be.”

Though he had found a forever home, Barney continued to travel to the clinic office each day with Ab’dee to keep her company while she worked, and it didn’t take long to discover that the rescue pup had a very special talent.

Barney was an expert kitten-sitter.

Over the past three years, Barney has acted as foster dad to nine kittens — including a litter of four last Christmas. The arrangement works perfectly for both Ab’dee and Barney. Barney looks forward to coming to work with his mom, and Ab’dee loves spending time with her pup as they both perform their very important jobs at the clinic.

While Barney loves all kittens, no relationship has been quite as special as the bond he has built with 5-week-old tabby Ava. Found shivering and alone in a London garden at just a few days old, things looked bleak for Ava. She was rushed to Battersea, and began to gain strength, but without brothers or sisters she was isolated from other animals.

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home

At a week old, Ava was introduced to Barney, and the staff prayed he’d accept the lonely kitten into his care. Things started off slow, noted Ab’dee, which suited both kitten and retriever alike. “At that age, it was just a gentle sniff from Barney, and a nice warm spot for Ava to curl up and sleep,” Ab’dee said.

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home

As time went on, a strong bond formed, and now, a month later, the two are inseparable. “Barney adores Ava and can’t wait to come into Battersea every morning so he can see her,” Ab’dee said. “It’s great for Ava too, because she doesn’t have a mum or brothers or sisters, so Barney has become her best friend and favorite playmate.”

Barney may not know it, but he is playing a very important role in Ava’s life, broadening the still-fragile kitten’s horizons everyday.

“Barney is helping her confidence grow and helping to develop her playing instincts,” Ab’dee explained. “Because she’s used to the company of dogs, we’ll have more new homes available to her, too, as she could now happily live with other dogs.”

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home

Ava still needs hand-feeding every two hours, but when she is old enough, there are already a number of volunteers ready and willing to take her home.

For three more weeks, the two best friends will be able to snuggle and play together to their heart’s content, and Barney’s mom couldn’t be more proud. “It’s wonderful to see them so happy together,” Ab’dee added. “And to know that their most difficult days are behind them.”

To learn about the dogs and cats still in need of homes in London, follow Battersea Dogs & Cats Home on Facebook.