Henry snuggles with one of the 3-week-old kittens found abandoned on Prince of Wales.

Henry snuggles with one of the 3-week-old kittens found abandoned on Prince of Wales.

An 8-month-old male cat in Ketchikan has adopted a litter of abandoned kittens found on the side of the road. Henry’s strong mothering instinct is a surprise, and it’s also a gift, because he could make all the difference to whether the kittens survive.

Six little lumps of fur snuggle together in a purring pile of cuteness.

They’re about three weeks old, which is double the age they were when someone put them into a cardboard box and dumped them on the road between Craig and Klawock on Prince of Wales Island.

“Luckily, some children walking home from school heard them crying in their box,” said Heather Muench of the Ketchikan Humane Society.

She said they have a volunteer on Prince of Wales who sent the litter over to this island, and Muench started round-the-clock kitten care.

But, she hasn’t had to do it alone. Henry has lent a helping paw.

Henry is a young cat who also was rescued by the Humane Society. He has a neurological disorder that makes him a little unsteady when he walks. He has a hard time jumping and has some endearing quirks. Henry also has a strong maternal – or, I guess, paternal – instinct that kicked in when Muench brought the kittens home.

“It’s really kind of cute,” she said. “The first thing he does is start compulsively licking one. He’ll spend hours in there, licking them, over, repeatedly. I think, ‘Oh my gosh, they’re not going to have any fur left.’ But, he’s really good at cleaning them up. I shouldn’t complain, because then I don’t have to do it.

“The cat nurturing, it’s increasing their chance of surviving.”

And, Henry is pretty serious about this new project.

“Yesterday, when I took them to work with me, he was very upset because someone had Henry and kittens3stolen his babies for the day,” Muench said. “When they came home, he was like, ‘Get them out of the carrying case. Put my babies back!’”

Muench had to take the kittens to work, though, because while Henry can do a lot, he can’t feed them.

Henry’s help may well make all the difference for this litter of kittens, but Muench said it’s still too soon to celebrate.

“There’s diseases out there. They’re too young to be vaccinated. They could be full of parasites – they can’t be dewormed yet,” she said. “There’s upper respiratory infection, they could have something that we don’t even know about, because they’re so tiny.”

Muench said there are so many better options for pet owners whose pets present them with unwanted litters. The best option is to avoid the litter in the first place, and the Humane Society offers low-cost spay and neuter services. But, if someone is overwhelmed by a litter,

“Take them to the animal protection. They don’t charge anything for people who live in the (Ketchikan) Gateway Borough,” she said. “Drop them off at one of the veterinary clinics, or take them to another rescue. Just, don’t find that appropriate to abandon like that.”

These six kittens were lucky to have been found, lucky to have ended up with caring people, and lucky to have Henry. Hopefully, their luck will continue, and they’ll end up surviving and placed in loving homes – after they’ve been spayed and neutered.

We have a video that Muench sent to us of Henry giving one kitten a really good bath. The video is on KRBD’s Facebook page.

UPDATE: The kittens now have names. They are Jan, Marcia, Cindy, Greg, Peter and Bobby.