This kindhearted animal lover was in for a surprise when those babies got bigger!

It’s not unusual to see stray animals in Japan, and when they’re caught, they’re often sent to animal control facilitates where they’re only kept for a few days before being euthanized. Recently, however, movements to end the culling of stray populations have been gaining momentum in Japan, so when one office worker happened to find a newborn litter of what they thought were kittens near their workplace they decided to foster them instead of taking them to a shelter.

But they were in for a surprise! According the younger sibling of the office worker’s coworker, Ban (@bngrs1_6), who recounted their story on Twitter, the “kittens” turned out to not be cats at all!

▼ Translation below.

“My sister’s coworker found a litter of five newborn kittens at work.

The coworker took them to the vet, who said they were dogs.

The coworker decided to raise them until a foster home could be found.

>They turned out to be Tanuki!!< ←New!!!”
 ̄^Y^Y^Y^Y^Y^Y^Y^Y^Y^Y^Y ̄

What the coworker actually took home were tanuki, the animal native to Japan that is often referred to as a “raccoon dog”! Tanuki are relatives of the dog, like a wolf or a fox, and thus have dog-like appearances, with raccoon-like markings. When small, they can also look like kittens with their little paws and big ears!

Since this particular litter was almost newborn, it was hard even for the vet to distinguish what they really were. Apparently, even their cry was similar to a cat’s meowing, so it was easy to mistake them for kittens.

▼ When they look like this, it’s no wonder!

Ban said that once their sister’s coworker realized they were tanuki and not abandoned pets, they handed them over to a conservation center where they could be properly cared for. Apparently they received quite a shock when they realized their kitten-puppies were actually tanuki!

▼ Even fully grown they look fox-like, a kind of cross between and dog and a cat.

The office worker did right by giving the babies over to proper care, since keeping wild animals in your home is not permitted in Japan without contacting the local government. However, it is possible to keep tanuki as pets with the proper permits, and the results are pretty dang cute, so this office worker clearly missed out on a great opportunity to keep some as adorable, fluffy, cuddle buddies.

Source: Twitter@bngrs1_6 via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso