When a mother cat has young kittens, introducing them to a full-grown carnivore from another species isn't usually a high priority. But that's what happens in the video above, which was filmed in Russia and recently posted on YouTube.
Despite the clichéd animosity between cats and dogs, the two often get along surprisingly well. The new video offers an endearing example of this, as the mother cat apparently trusts this dog enough to suppress her protective instincts, step aside and let her vulnerable offspring cavort with a canine roughly 10 times their size.
She doesn't just hand them over and check out, though. First she and the dog subtly greet each other, using body language that's likely familiar to anyone who lives with dogs or cats. The mother sits in front of the dog with a non-aggressive posture, letting herself be sniffed as one of her kittens approaches from behind. While her kitten is sniffed next, the mother doesn't move — except to lightly paw and bite the dog's face, which seems like a gentle reminder this is her baby, not a meal.
Amid playful air bites, the dog obediently sits. The mother delivers a few more snout slaps for good measure, then moves away as her other kitten arrives. Both kittens jovially bat the dog's nose and feet, possibly imitating their mom. The dog responds by rolling over, a common canine behavior that typically signals play rather than submission or defensiveness, according to a 2015 study. The entire interaction is worth watching, but it gets especially cute from the 1:05 mark to about 1:25.
The mother cat looks on as her kittens get to know an old friend. (Image: ignoramusky/YouTube screenshot)
The kittens seem to enjoy their avuncular babysitter, who is described as their mother's "old friend" in the video title. No other context is provided on YouTube, but as Oliver Wheaton reports in the U.K.'s Metro, this may be a glimpse into the hidden social lives of homeless pets. "According to the video poster the cat, a stray, has spent many years on the streets of Russia with the dog," Wheaton writes, "and decided to bring her new kittens to meet her old friend when they got old enough."
We can only imagine the pair's full backstory, but their bond is apparent even in this brief clip. When the kittens tire of playing, the dog bounds over to their mother and goads her into picking up where they left off. She obliges, and they launch into a friendly sparring match that requires a certain level of familiarity and trust.
If these really are strays, their lives may involve a wide range of hardships outside the experience of many pampered pets. Yet despite such adversity, it's at least nice to see two domesticated animals, abandoned or ignored by humans, rise above their species' stereotypical rivalry to find comfort — and joy — in an old friend.
On top of that, this video also illustrates another important point: No matter what kind of troubles you have, everything is better with kittens.