When it comes to maternal instincts, pit bull Zuca is an expert! Having cared for nearly 100 orphan kittens in the last four years, Zuca has become the ultimate inspiration for adoption, and even has her own Instagram page.
After losing her best friend, Stout the cat, to kidney disease in 2013, Zuca became depressed and lethargic until owner Ronda Layne decided to foster Monkey the kitten from an animal shelter in Portland, Oregon. As a rescue animal herself, Zuca has stepped up to the responsibility of nurturing boxfulls of abandoned kittens until they grow old enough to be adopted into loving homes of their own. Since being around these newly found fury friends, it seems that Zuca has found her calling!
“When I first saw [Zuca] at a Humane Society shelter in 2006, I noticed there was something very different about her compared to the other dogs…She was sitting quietly and barely wagging her tail while the other dogs were jumping up and down and barking,” recalls Layne.
Having noticed Zuca’s calm demeanor, Layne hoped she would feel comfortable around the cats she had at the time. To test the waters, Layne “took her into the shelter’s cattery to see what would happen,” and to her delight, “Zuca walked up to the cats and wagged her tail.” Layne says it was right there and then that she decided to adopt her.
Layne brought Zuca back to her new home, where she then made friends for life with the family cat, Stout.
“For the next seven years, they didn’t leave each other’s side…They always shared their food with each other, and Stout would even go walking with us. When I had to put Stout down at age 17, Zuca tried to guard her when the vet came to our house. It was sad to see her become so depressed after her best buddy was gone.”
Having experienced the loss of a close companion, Zuca understandably became despondent and withdrawn. Fortunately, Zuca has now found companionship with her fury feline friends. She is not only much happier, but is providing care and comfort to an abundance of orphaned kittens.
After bringing home a tiny kitten names Monkey from the local animal sanctuary, Layne describes how Monkey and Zuca were so pleased to be in each other’s company that they “were soon curled up together like best friends.”
“Zuca weighs 50 pounds, but she was very careful around Monkey and was always patient and gentle. It was like magic. I knew right then that she had a gift.”
Having previously spent up to six months in a cage at a shelter, it’s possible that Zuca has some level of empathy for the orphaned kittens in Layne’s foster care.
Layne, who volunteers much of her life to animal rescue work, explains that Zuca “seems to know instantly exactly what the [kittens] need…She ‘reads’ the kitten and figures out when to look at it, wag her tail or move her head. It’s fascinating to watch those first interactions.”
Although Zuca is now 12 years old and has a bionic knee, Layne points out that “she is the best surrogate mom these kittens could hope for…She still loves to sleep with the kittens and is extremely patient, allowing them to jump all over her, even when they bite and scratch,” says Ronda.