When they saw the cat carrying a duckling away, they feared the worst

In addition to their day jobs, Ronan and Emma, from Clara in central Ireland, have a small farm where they tend to a variety of animals, including chickens, cattle, and sheep. They wanted to add ducks to the roster, so they picked up some fertilized duck eggs and waited for them to hatch, eager to see the little ducklings making themselves at home at the farm.

Soon after they hatched, Ronan went into the barn, and as he recalled, “Within seconds of that, a cat jumped down from a pigeon hole in the shed over there and I kind of put one and one together and presumed the cat had swallowed up the ducklings.” And indeed, there was no sign of them. According to Emma, “At this stage, they were missing for about six hours. So Ronan thought there was no hope at all.”

But then Emma saw the cat, named Della, carrying one of the ducklings in her mouth. They went after her to see what was going on. To their amazement, Della had taken in all four of the ducklings and was cradling them like they were kittens. There was a second surprise: under the layer of ducklings, there were also newborn kittens!

Fortunately for the ducklings, they encountered the cat soon after she’d given birth — maternal hormones were coursing through her system, making her inclined to nurture anything small and fuzzy. As Ronan said, “I have no doubt whatsoever that the cat was thinking dinner if she had seen them a couple of hours before or a couple of hours after. I’ve no doubt she’d have put the napkin around her neck. Knife and fork. Salt and pepper. The whole lot.”

Ronan was worried that mama cat might return to her normal feline ways. But Emma, who works as a midwife, could tell the cat felt nothing but love for the ducklings.

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