THREE fluffy baby ducklings would normally provide a tasty meal for a mother cat.
But Ronan and Emma Lally's cat has taken to breastfeeding the ducklings and has become fiercely protective of them, along with her own two newborn kittens.
The couple, from Clara in Co Offaly, feared for the ducklings when they discovered one of the ducks in the cat's mouth, while its two siblings watched on.
But they need not have worried.
The protective mother cat, who had just given birth, instead decided to extend her brood to adopt the ducklings as well.
Ronan told the RTE Mooney Goes Wild radio show how he had put five duck eggs "under a broody hen but only three of them made it".
When he went out to the shed to check on them, the ducklings had gone missing as well as the family's pet cat.
Ronan assumed the worst but midwife Emma had a hunch and went looking for the ducklings.
She found them about 20 minutes later and screamed for Ronan who arrived to see the cat snatch one of the ducklings in her mouth. "Emma ran after the cat and I was trying to catch the other two ducklings."
Emma found the cat and realised she was bonding with the duckling, so she took a chance and when she place the other two ducklings beside her, the cat began to purr.
Ronan describes the sight as a freaky experience. "I had to pinch myself when I saw it first. We were blown away."
Niall Hatch, of Birdwatch Ireland, is just as surprised. "Its absolutely amazing. She's even licking them clean and they're clearly drinking the milk."
A video of them can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_wQ7iL19z8&feature=youtu.be&hd=1.