A TINY kitten, rescued from the edge of a main road near Inverurie in the dead of night, is being hand reared by a student vet nurse at Rothiemay.
The mother of four kittens had been killed after being struck by a car in the early hours of November 9. Two women who stopped, hoping to be able to help, immediately became aware of mewing from the verge and ditch and took the kittens to Donview Vets at Inverurie.
They were warmed up with heat pads and kept fed overnight by vet Dave Houston who said: "There is no doubt that had they not been found and taken in they would have died from hypothermia. One of them was on the edge of a burn. We think the mother cat must have been moving them when she was struck."
The next day, Rebecca Hamilton (19), who is on a university placement at the practice, was one of four nurses who volunteered to look after the kittens until homes could be found for them.
Since then, every day, Bunty, as she is to be called, has made the daily commute from Rothiemay with Rebecca, enjoying the company of some of her siblings, returning to the Hamilton family to be looked after at night.
By their weight, it has been estimated that the kittens were three to four weeks old when they were found.
Initially Bunty, the smallest of the litter, fitted neatly into the palm of Rebecca's hand. However, four-hourly feeds of formula cat milk has seen the kitten almost double in size and become increasingly confident.
The kitten quickly learned to suck from a bottle and Rebecca is now preparing to move her onto solids ready for her going to a permanent home.
Kittens learn their grooming and toilet habits from their mothers but the Hamiltons' black labrador Rhinnes has become a surrogate and is really mindful of the little cat.
Rebecca said: "In no time at all they had formed a bond. Rhinnes watches out for her and the two of them play together even though she sometimes takes a swipe at him. He will really miss her when she goes.
"All the kittens are incredibly well handled and socialised. It's such a good outcome from what happened."
Rebecca is in her second year of a three-year Bachelor of Science degree at Middlesex University in London and on her second placement at the practice.
She said: "It's a busy practice but I am really enjoying the placement."