IMAGE: Honey and Precious
Scott Mason  /  AP file
Precious, right, a 6-week-old kitten, gets a meal from Honey, a 7-year-old golden retriever, Oct. 2 in Stephens City, Va.
updated 10/8/2007 5:47:37 PM ET 2007-10-08T21:47:37

A stray kitten has found a new mother in a golden retriever, who began producing milk for the little feline after hearing its cries.

Honey hadn't given birth in 18 months, but after her owner, Jimmy Martin, brought home the kitten, she suddenly found herself playing mom.

"She started licking her and loving her. Within a couple of days, Honey started naturally lactating," said Kathy Martin, Jimmy's wife. "The kitten took right to her, and she started nursing her."

Jimmy Martin noticed the kitten, which the family dubbed Precious, about six weeks ago, when she ran in front of his concrete truck. After following her and realizing there was no mother cat in sight, he took her home.

The kitten refused to drink from a bottle, and Jimmy's mother, Ruth Martin, feared Precious would die.

The family initially tried to keep Precious and Honey apart, fearing the dog would play too roughly with the little gray-striped kitten. But Honey was elated at Precious' presence, wagging her tail and prancing all over the house trying to sneak a peek at her. Eventually, the family let Honey approach Precious, and the dog immediately took to her.

The Martins said they told a veterinarian about Honey and Precious and learned that interspecies nursing does happen on rare occasion.

Precious now sometimes plays with dog bones, and Honey lets Precious gnaw on her like a puppy would.

"She thinks she's a dog," Kathy Martin said. "She's really fit right in."

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