We've all heard that cats and rats don't get along, but that's not always true. Brooklyn Cat Cafe is pioneering this new interspecies friendship by enlisting rats to help care for orphaned kittens — no joke.
It all started two years ago, The Huffington Post reports when an orphaned kitten named Ebony came to the shelter and was diagnosed with feline leukemia. Because they couldn't risk infecting other cats, the staff had to keep Ebony away from them. Still, they knew Ebony needed some companionship and she found it in a white rat named (what else?) Ivory.
"Of course we named him Ivory," Anne Levin, Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition executive director, explained. "He and Ebony became great friends and would cuddle and romp in their crate."
Ebony passed away when she was 4-months-old, but Ivory continued to work with kittens at the shelter until he died of old age. Now, the cafe has adopted two more rats to carry on Ivory's good work. The rats, Emile and Remy, socialize with kittens who are 8 weeks and younger — too young to be vaccinated and allowed to play with the rest of the cats.
The new rats were introduced to the world on the Cat Cafe's Instagram in May.
Emily and Remy went viral recently when the cafe posted a video of Emile helping clean a little kitten at the shelter.
And, if you're worried about Remy and Emile's well-being, there's no need. Brooklyn Cat Cafe explains why it's safe for the rats to play with kittens on its website:
"Because the rats are not scared of the kittens, they don't run away and the cats don't hunt them. However, the kittens are convinced that the rat tails are there primarily for them to play with. Remy and Emile are ok with that so long as the kittens play gently with their tails."
The Cafe also notes that they keep the rats under careful watch if they're playing with a kitten whose mother is present. Safety first, even in friendship.