Have any of you ever watch 'Animal 24/7' on the BBC? I caught it this morning and they were featuring a place called Secret World in Somerset where they raise animals who have been separated from their parents. It brought back memories of something that happened to me 25 years ago.
At that time Chris and I were living in a top floor flat in an old Victorian house. We'd already adopted my darling cat Dylan, who'd been abandoned by his previous owner. Another of the tenants in the building had a female cat called Pancho – who it turned out was pregnant because one day I opened the door to our flat and found a present.
Lying on the mat were two tiny black kittens. In truth, I screamed when I saw them, as I thought they were rats! We quickly realised that Pancho must have given birth, and duly handed the kittens over to her owner, who dispatched Pancho and her brood off to his girlfriend's house as he was going away on a business trip.
End of story? Well no, just the beginning!
The following morning I was putting the rubbish out and thought I heard a very faint miaow. I had a look around behind the bins but couldn't see anything. I mentioned to Chris what I thought I'd heard, so he went to double check.
He came back holding the tiniest kitten in the palm of his hand – it was so small that it didn't even reach his fingers, and it's eyes were barely open. Chris had found it in the back of an old washing machine that had been left by the bins. I rang the vet immediately and they told me to keep the kitten warm and bring it straight into the surgery.
I put some tweed fabric into a Danish Cookie tin and settled the kitten into the middle, then went off to the vet's, where we discovered the kitten was a little boy. The vet didn't hold out much hope for him as we couldn't get him back to his mother, but he gave me a special milk formula to mix up with warm water and oil, and a miniature bottle to feed him with.
It was an anxious few days, but gradually he started to pull through and we christened him Charlie. Dylan was fantastic, a bit of a surrogate 'mum' to the new arrival, cleaning him and occasionally bopping him on the head if he got too boisterous!
Charlie was even in a national newspaper a few weeks later. I was appearing on 'The Price Is Right' at the time, and the story got picked up for its feel-good factor. I wonder, do any of you remember reading it?
Have you ever ended being a surrogate mum or dad to an unexpected arrival? I'd love to hear your stories!