Luckily the Huyton, England couple had another new mom at home to turn to — Ball’s Siamese cat, Coco. Coco had given birth to a litter of kittens the same day Hope was born, and Ball wondered if Coco might accept a non-feline as one of her own.
“I suggested it because there was no other option — the puppy wouldn’t have survived otherwise,” Ball tells the Daily Mail.
The plan was a long shot — even the veterinarian told Ball and Cohen cats don’t usually care for young that aren’t their own. And Hope wasn’t just another mother’s offspring — she was another species altogether.
Still, Coco was Hope’s only chance, so Ball and Cohen made the decision to try. For the plan to work, Ball says she had to introduce Hope to the litter very carefully.
“I rubbed a bit of the cat and kitten scent on Hope before putting her straight in with the rest of the litter,” Ball explains.
She then placed Hope with Coco and her three kitties, hoping the feline would take to the pup quickly. As luck would have it, the mama cat accepted Hope instantly, and from then on the Shih Tzu became an honorary kitten.
“Hope then went to feed on Coco, and Coco let her,” Ball explains. “Since then, their bond has only grown stronger. Coco is so attached to Hope. If she’s not around, she is looking for her.”
Hope is just another kitten, Ball says of the feline, and Coco treats the tiny pup like one of her own.
“She is the same size as the kittens at the moment and gets fed and washed just like them,” Ball tells the Liverpool Echo of baby Hope.
Coco and Diamond’s veterinarian, Dr. Lizzie Goldstraw, was thrilled when she got news that Hope had found an adopted mother in Coco.
“We are delighted that Hope has been adopted in this way and she will no doubt feel warm and safe with her new family,” Dr. Goldstraw says. “It’s quite unusual for a cat to take a puppy on as its own but it helped that they were born on the same day and that Paula acted so quickly to introduce the puppy.”
Dr. Goldstraw says Hope will need a bit of physiotherapy in the coming weeks to strengthen her legs, but expects the Shih Tzu pup to develop just fine.