Call it a case of puppy love — or maybe kitten love is more appropriate.

Sprinkle, a 1-year-old white Chihuahua owned by Westminster resident Teresa Coale, considers the newest addition to the household her new puppy.

Her new “puppy” is actually a 2-week-old black kitten.

Sprinkle regularly grooms the kitten, licking its face and body. She protects the kitten from people reaching in to pick her up. Even though she’s not producing milk, the dog tries to nurse the kitten. The unlikely pair also sleep together, curled up with the kitten’s head resting on Sprinkle’s body.

kitten-puppy.jpgYes, they spoon.

“I couldn’t tell you why it’s happening,” Coale said. “Sprinkle’s just very nurturing. It’s like she senses the kitten needs to relax and needs love. She’s like a pacifier for the kitten. She’s her security blanket.”

Coale took in the kitten — the family calls her Bindi — from a family friend last week. When Coale got her, the kitten was weak. Now Bindi is thriving, partly due to hand feeding she gets every two hours and partly because of the constant care and attention from Sprinkle, Coale said.

The kitten will cry unless Sprinkle is around to comfort her. Coale’s other Chihuahua, Shuggy, enjoys the company of Bindi as well, but isn’t nearly as interested in her welfare as Sprinkle. After a feeding, Sprinkle will patiently watch and then groom Bindi when she is out of Coale’s hands.