They heard her cries. They searched throughout the zoo for their favorite resident—one-year-old Musya. She had been acting strangely that day, waddling from space to space with her swollen belly. The staff were anxious. If they didn’t find her on time, maybe something else would. When they eventually got to her, she had some unexpected company. What were they to do now?
Musya wasn’t always a resident of Sadgorod Zoo in Russia. The local attraction was home to tigers, bears, leopards, lizards, camels, reindeer, turtles, monkeys, and lions, but never cats. However, when zoo-keeper Alice was venturing to work on a cold winter’s morning, she noticed a small pile of dirt moving. When she looked closer, she realized it was something else entirely.
Musya fit into Alice’s hand when she found her. The tiny kitten was frozen, and even had icicles stuck to her nose! Alice wasn’t sure if she was going to make it through the night. She stuffed the hairball inside her jacket and went to work. The vets rallied and did everything they could for the little tot. Then, all they could do was wait. But Musya was about to shock them all.
To everyone’s disbelief, Musya made it through the first night, then the second, and then the third. Between shifts, the keepers would come to the staff room to shower her in affection. She was still underweight and weak, but she still managed to get up and run around every day. She quickly became one of the family. Then, they realized how much danger she was truly in.
As Musya became strong, she longed to explore. The window of their staff room was her only experience of the outside world. They wanted to keep her safe. After all, there were wild animals on the other side of the glass. But one day, as Alice opened the door, Musya slipped out. They managed to keep her inside for over a year, only ever leaving for a short walk on a leash. How would she fend for herself? They never expected her to come back like this.
Alice spent two days searching for Musya around the grounds. Every time she passed the crocodile’s enclosure, her stomach clenched. What if she made her way into the wrong pen. What if she wasn’t quick enough? Alice was warned by her colleagues not to expect to see Musya again, but she refused to listen to them. She had faith. And sometimes, all you need is a little bit of faith.
Musya eventually strolled back to her home in the center of the zoo. It was Alice who saw her pawing at the glass door. She couldn’t help but cry. At the beginning, she had intended to find Musya a home, but she could never bring herself to say goodbye. Her love for Musya continued to grow. But that wasn’t the only thing that was growing.
After a few weeks, Alice noticed a difference in her beloved cat. Musya was lethargic and cranky. She always had a playful personality, often hiding behind the tablecloth and slapping those who passed. Alice began to leave the door open for her to venture around the grounds. But Musya no longer had any interest in exploring. Instead, she would just lie on the ground outside. But they never expected to discover this.
Alice returned to the staff room after feeding time to have a hot cup of tea. But when she got there, Musya was nowhere to be found. This time, she didn’t panic. Alice knew Musya was smart. She had made her way back once before, so Alice was sure she could do it again. But as the second day passed, rain began to fall heavier than Alice had seen in months. The animals were off. Something was coming. Then, she heard thunder.
Alice and the other keepers grabbed their flashlights to search every nook and cranny around the zoo. She was sure Musya wouldn’t have left the grounds. Here, there was food and small rodents. Outside, there was nothing but cars and parking spaces. Then, by the lion enclosure, they heard a cry. Alice followed the noise to their wood area of trees and plants. Deep within a bush, she saw Musya. However, she wasn’t alone. Something was crawling on her chest.
Alice crawled into the bush when Musya refused to leave. With her were four newborn kittens, and among them were baby hedgehogs! Alice didn’t know what to do? Where had they come from and why were they with Musya? One by one, Alice loaded them into a box of blankets and brought them all to the vet room. Alice had more questions than answers.
When Alice told the vet about Musya, he laughed. But when he opened the box, the smile turned to a frown. Deep lines burrowed into his forehead. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” he whispered before checking Musya and her young. He separated the species into two boxes before leaving for a talk with Alice. When they returned, they found out what was going on.
Musya had picked up her kittens and moved them one by one over to the hedgehogs. She sat among them, proud as ever, purring as they burrowed into her for heat. Were the hedgehogs not hurting her? Were they not hurting the young kittens? But as Alice watched them together, something clicked.
Musya had adopted all eight hedgehogs. And although their pricks would scare off many animals, Musya was not like most creatures. Alice was amazed. But then, she worried for the safety of the kittens. She took the hedgehogs away and attempted to nurse them from a bottle. However, after hours of them refusing, she had no choice but to return them to their new mother. Little did Alice know, this wasn’t the first instance of interspecies adoption.
Another cat in Russia called Rosinka made headlines after she adopted a baby squirrel monkey named Fyodor. The young creature was brought home by a zoo keeper after being abandoned by its mother. Thankfully, Rosinka immediately began to comfort him. Was it just cats in Russia who had the tendency to help other animals in need?
Cats are commonly misunderstood. They are the less popular household pet when it comes to dogs, and many canine-lovers put the fact down to feline’s malicious demeanor. However, cat owners around the world have rallied to share the benefits of owning a fluffy pal.
Owning a feline is said to lower the risk of heart disease and help their owner sleep better. Their calm personalities ease stress and anxiety, their purring is a continuous vibration that increases relaxation, and owning one is known to reduce allergies during childhood years. Above all else, owners have expressed the unparalleled company a cat provides while lounging on the couch to watch television. But how would Musya cope with such a big family?
Against all her better instincts, Alice decided to keep Musya’s family together. The young mother managed to nurse and care for all her children. Later, they discovered where the hedgehogs had come from. Turns out, their mother had been involved in a tragic accident with a lawnmower on the grounds of the zoo earlier that week. The little tots had been starving before Musya came across them. Alice was astounded. Had she rescued them before she had her kittens?
Although many had their doubts, Musya continued to raise the hedgehogs like her own. Alice set up their own house just outside their staff room, so she could keep a close eye on them. To her surprise, Musya has yet to cry from the pricks of the baby hedgehogs. It’s as though they can sense her motherly presence. And the internet couldn’t handle the cuteness.
Alice shared photos of the young mother online, and people are astonished. Cat-lovers are singing Musya’s praises and dog-lovers have been touched by her gentle nature. Looks like Musya is showing the same kindness that was once shown to her by Alice. But how would the kittens feel about sharing their mother?
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