(NBC) - A new "family" has taken shape at a central Texas animal shelter where a cat is now raising not only her kittens, but also a brood of puppies.
It was the death of the puppies' mother that put them in a desperate situation.
"You hear about things like this," says volunteer Sherry Bryant, "but I've never seen it."
When the mother of these four miniature dachshunds died while birthing her puppies, the owner called Pam Peacock with a life-saving request.
"They would've needed somebody to bottle feed the puppies every hour and a half to two hours around the clock for at least two or three weeks or have a mother's milk," she explains.
Peacock had no dogs that fit the bill, but Beatrix, a rescue cat and new mother came to mind.
"We discussed it and I said 'I know it can be done,' I don't know if she would take the dogs because this is one cat I have out here that doesn't like dogs," says Peacock.
The moment that the first puppy was put in front of Beatrix her maternal instincts kicked in.
"She just kind of put her arms around them and pulled them up to her and started cleaning them," says Peacock, "and they started nursing and they're doing fine."
The family of ten has become a unit over the past three weeks.
"They're all family," says Peacock, "they're family."
A family that might not look "normal" to others, but one that is thriving thanks to one compassionate cat.
"The puppies were meant to live and even if a cat was their momma, it still worked," says volunteer Sherry Bryant.
The owner of the puppies has decided to adopt Beatrix since she saved the lives of his pets.