Dog Poppy, cat Molly and rabbit Willow have formed a firm friendship.
Forget fighting like cat and dog, these four legged friends drink from the same bowl, snuggle up in a shared basket and proudly walk around their neighbourhood together.
And the delightful duo became a trio of cuddly tearaways, after a mini lop rabbit, Willow, was added to the brood and started sharing carrots and playing football with King Charles Cavalier spaniel, Poppy, as well as coaxing tabby cat Molly to join in.
A regular Dr Dolittle when it comes to animals, their owner, Julie Lamb, 47, of Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, said: “The cat and dog drink out of the same bowl and I’m getting a bigger one, so they can all fit around it together.
“The other day Willow, my house rabbit, and Poppy the dog were playing football in the kitchen. They also love sharing carrots,” she continued.
“And Molly the cat and three-year-old Poppy the dog sleep in the same basket together every night. They have done every night since we got them. They’re the best of pals.”
A full-time carer for her son Lewis, 19, who has autism, Julie, who also has an older son, 23, who does not wish to be named, and a daughter, Ruth, 14, with her HGV driver husband Robert, 53, bought three-year-old Molly as a kitten for her little girl’s 11th birthday.
Shortly after, they bought 12-week-old puppy Poppy, then a year ago, their rabbit, Willow, and with each new addition the pets bonded straight away.
Julie, who also has Rosie, a tortoise she was given by her mum and dad on her eight birthday and 15 guinea pigs that she keeps in a special shed in the garden, added: “When we bought Poppy, we introduced her to Molly straight away and after that the pair were inseparable.
“Poppy tries to do a lot of the things that Molly does. She will copy the cat, using the cat scratcher and trying to climb the furniture.”
Julie continued: “The cat wags her tail if she is frustrated and Poppy interprets that as her wanting to play, so starts wagging her tail, too
“I don’t think Poppy actually knows that she is a dog. In fact, I don’t think any of them really know what animal they are.
“Poppy and Molly sleep together in the same basket, all snuggled up. They have done every night since we introduced them.”
“Poppy loves everyone and even when I get the guinea pigs out she gets in their hutch,” Julie added.
When Willow joined the duo, Poppy welcomed her straight away, but Molly the cat was a bit more wary.
“Willow is more Poppy’s friend. They love sharing carrots together.”
Julie continued: “Poppy loves rabbit food more than her own and is always munching carrots and the rabbit’s dry food. Anything you want to give to the rabbit she likes to have a nibble of. She even tried to eat cabbage, I could tell she didn’t really like it but it was like, ‘If the rabbit’s eating it, I’m eating it’.
“We have a woodburner in the kitchen and the dog will sit at the side of the rabbit nearby, while the cat will climb into the dog’s basket for a nap.
“But the cat is actually quite scared of the rabbit. I think it’s because she hops and Molly wasn’t really expecting her to do that. She’s used to guinea pigs and probably thought she was another one with different ears!”
She continued: “And, bold as brass, Willow will go up to the cat and try and play with her.”
Julie, who regularly films the trio, captured a real moment of animal magic last week when Willow and Poppy started kicking a ball about in the kitchen.
She recalled: “Willow is a house rabbit and she loves to greet everybody and explore. I think she thinks she’s a dog, because she loves to run around like one and chase a ball.”
Julie added: “The other day, I put a ball down to try and distract Poppy, as she always gets overexcited when I first let the rabbit out, because she immediately wants to play with her.
“But Willow just took over, so it looked like they were having a little football game, although the dog didn’t really get a look in!
“I filmed it on my phone to show my daughter, as it was so funny.”
For a small furry – and a prey animal, meaning she would be naturally wary of potential predators like Molly and Poppy – Willow knows no fear.
“The rabbit is really bold and just wants to play with them,” said Julie. “She’ll hop right up to Molly – who is the one that’s wary!
“I love watching them. It really makes me smile when they’re all out in the garden together.”
“They just chase each other around and it’s very entertaining,” she said.
“The cat will pull the dog to the floor, then roll around with her. It’s like watching a nature documentary when the lion pulls down its pray.”
And the dog and cat also love going for walks together.
“If we take the dog out for a walk the cat will follow us,” said Julie. “She loves playing hide and seek with Poppy. She’ll go ahead, running down the street and into the gardens, before leaping out at Poppy to try and scare her. It’s very funny.
“When Ruth was at primary school, she would follow us as we all walked to school.”
Julie, whose previous tabby cat Coco and Labrador Jess, who died a few years ago, were also great pals, now rubbishes the common perception that cats and dogs are enemies.
She said: “Mine past and present have been the best of friends.
“And adding Willow to the mix has shown that while two is company, three is most certainly not a crowd.”
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