Ebony and Ivory: The Peculiar Companionship of Cat and Rat

Khryss | Published 2017-09-09 15:41

Move over, Tom and Jerry!

Brooklyn Cat Café in New York City welcomes their customers with the cute meows and encourages kitty playtimes. In partnership with the Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition, they are actually open to accommodating stray cats and have around 20 cats now ready for adoption.

One in-house kitten, however, was recently diagnosed with feline leukemia--a common infectious disease in cats. This prevents her from mingling with other cats as the virus--thriving in bodily fluids--can be easily spread through close contact, like mating or bite wounds.  Cats with this condition only live up to two and a half years.

Living in isolation, the café owners wanted to find a possible companion animal for this black kitten named Ebony. And then came her perfect match: a white rat from a nearby rescue center! They even named it Ivory!

Rats can't contract the feline leukemia virus and so the diplomacy between the nature's known adversarial animals began. What an amusing twist of destiny!

Unfortunately, Ebony passed away shortly after their unexpected bond (just 5 months). The café owners, though, says the rat companion made her life "immeasurably enriched".  Ivory also followed two years after (the average lifespan of rats).

Still, they left a mark to the café and inspired the owners to continue this cat-rat duo of which they started again with a pair named Remy and Emile.

The secret for the unafraid rats? Well, the kittens' relatively similar in size with them. Their playful chase and pouncing is also said to be alright as long as it's gentle enough. While cats are known to hunt mice, this behavior is actually learned from their mothers. So, when separated at an early age, their level of aggression differs.

Nonetheless, Katie Lisnik, the director of cat protection at the Humane Society International, noted that cats would still act on instinct sooner or later and that rats are their natural prey.

"Even though bonds are formed, rats can move in a certain way that triggers the cat's [hunting] response," she says.


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