In general, cats and rats are believed to be enemies – but the little kittens and their rat friends in this story seem to have missed the memo. Emile and Remy are two resident rats at Brooklyn Cat Cafe, an establishment in New York run by Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition (BBAWC). The café helps out adoptable kittens and cats from BBAWC and other local rescues. And recently, they have got quite a lot of attention – precisely because of their rat staff.
Brooklyn Cat Cafe shared an Instagram video featuring two baby kittens – and a young rat … who was giving them a thorough bath!
The sole idea may seem odd at first – why put rats and kittens together? But, as it turns out, there is a very good reason for doing so. The whole story of kitten-rat relations at the organization began two years ago with the rescue of Ebony, an orphaned four-week-old kitten who tested positive for feline leukemia. The baby could not spend time with other cats because they would become infected as well, but she needed companionship. The staff did something really out of the usual then – they found a white rat who needed a new home and adopted him – which would soon prove to be the beginning of a sweet friendship.
“Of course we named him Ivory,” Anne Levin, BBAWC executive director, told HuffPost. “He and Ebony became great friends and would cuddle and romp in their crate.” Unfortunately, Ebony died when she was only four months old – but the idea of kittens and rats being pals remained.
Ivory befriended many a kitten and was a great companion for his whole life. In February 2017, already an elderly rat, he was put to sleep after a long time of monitoring his body while his health was declining.
Since then, the organization has adopted Emile and Remy from a rescue group Helping All Little Things. The rats’ wonderful mission is simply to spend time with kittens younger than eight weeks who have to be separated from other cats until their vaccinations. If the kittens are not orphaned and the mother is present, the rats are allowed to play with the babies only under close supervision. Needless to say, they are absolute pros at their task!
The rats also play a vital role in keeping orphaned kittens clean. “I know the rats we have often groom themselves and each other and it seems to be both a self-comfort and a friendship connection,” Levin said.
Once again, when looked at a little closer, rats prove to be very, very far from the way so many people’s imagine them to be. “People don’t realize how smart and sweet [rats] are,” Levin told HuffPost. “Emile rolls on his back and I can tickle his tummy. They make a purring/clicking sound when I rub their face and nose and they love to cuddle and know when it’s evening time and they get their snacks and cuddles.” Not all that drastically different from kittens then, are they?
To learn more about the Brooklyn Cat Cafe, click here.