The kittens were recovering from their own health issues when they started sharing a space with Daisy.

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Pit bull mix Daisy suffers from separation anxiety. Whenever she returns home from a walk with her human, Rosemarie, she's reluctant to go back into the house out of fear of being put inside alone. And whenever Rosemarie does have to leave the house, 8-year-old Daisy will often attempt to block the door.

Rosemarie, an ASPCA volunteer, has been fostering animals since 2012 and has often seen how well Daisy interacted with the new animals, but things really began to change for the black-and-white doggo when Rosemarie brought home a pair of kittens named Tulip and Sparkles.

The kittens were only a few weeks old when they were collected by a good Samaritan and handed into the ASPCA's Kitten Nursery in New York City.

"Not all stray kittens require the same kind of help," Gemma Smith, administrative manager at the ASPCA Kitten Nursery, tells Daily Paws. "In the case of Tulip and Sparkles, these kittens were found within a lot of vacant houses that were dangerous to enter and appeared to be at risk of illness or injury, so the best next step was to bring them to a local shelter, rescue, or veterinary clinic as soon as possible."

Smith's team says that it's important to recognize that cats and kittens who are found outside may have very different needs from one another. If you find a stray kitten outdoors, check the ASPCA's guidance tool to determine what should be done next. The answer for what might be best for the kitties will depend on a number of factors, including their age, physical state, comfort around humans, and whether or not the mama kitty is nearby.

In Tuplip and Sparkles' case, the ASPCA staff who treated the kitties upon intake quickly realized the kittens had conjunctivitis and upper respiratory infections and were infested with fleas. ASPCA staff and Rosemarie helped them heal, but as she worked to get them back to health, the volunteer noticed something else. Her dog Daisy seemed to adore the pair. What more, the kittens' company even seemed to help the dog cope with her separation anxiety.

dog and cat lying together on a blanket
Credit: Courtesy of ASPCA

"After Daisy's morning walk, Tulip will sometimes go out in the hallway to greet her and Daisy will follow her back in," Rosemarie says. "When I prepare to leave the apartment, Tulip will often lie down on Daisy's bed, and then Daisy will join her."

It's a far cry from previous days before the kitties moved in, when Rosemarie says the pooch would block the door in an attempt to keep her human from leaving. And while their bond wasn't formed overnight, it's been a heartwarming experience to witness the change in each of the new pet siblings' demeanors. In fact, Rosemarie says the kittens were initially apprehensive of the new environment and the strange dog they shared the space with. But, after keeping Daisy and the kittens separated for a few days until everyone acclimated to the changes, she says the trio is now almost inseparable. 

Rosemarie says that the kittens will climb on Daisy and let the gentle doggo groom them as they lay together.

"I think Daisy always wanted to be a mommy, and she loves kittens," she says. "They often sleep and play together. Tulip especially has a calming effect on Daisy. The kittens get used to dogs, and that's great socialization. Daisy likes kittens even more than other dogs."

Now, Tulip and Sparkles are permanent members of the family, as Rosemarie officially adopted the pair so they can stay with their new buddy Daisy. But even with the newest additions, Rosemarie plans to continue bringing shelter kittens into her home for socialization and care before helping them find a forever home of their own.

"Fostering programs help animals become socialized, which makes it easier for them to transition into an adoptive home," she says. "It brings joy to my heart to see how they thrive, and to know that I was part of the process so that they can be happy in their new home."