Rats might steal mail or dance on poles in New York City, but they also babysit orphaned kittens.
Despite being Mayor Bill de Blasio’s sworn enemy, the rats in a Brooklyn cat cafe are sleeping with their enemies —cats —at the Brooklyn Cat Cafe in Brooklyn Heights.
Thank you for visiting us @peoplepets! . @Regrann from @peoplepets – At @catcafebk rats adopted from HALT Animal Rescue help care for kittens who need an extra cuddle. Learn more by clicking the link in our bio! . . #catcafebk #adoptdontshop #animal rescue #ratsandcats #cats #kittens #rats #ratsofinstagram #savethemall #emiletherat #brooklyn #nyc #BBAWC
The cafe and feline adoption center, run by the Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition, started pairing rats and cats two years ago.
A four-week-old kitten named Ebony was diagnosed with feline leukemia, a contagious and fatal illness in cats, and had to be quarantined from the rest of the herd, which meant no snuggles or cuddles with other kittens.
To keep Ebony company, the Brooklyn Cat Cafe introduced Ebony to Ivory, a white rat who could not catch feline leukemia, and the two become “best friends.”
“Ivory and Ebony would romp and play together until they passed out cuddled up together,” according to the cafe.
Ebony died in 2015 when she was four-months-old, but “her life was so much richer for having a friend in Ivory,” Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition Executive Director Anne Levin told the Huffington Post, which originally reported the story.
Ivory stayed at the cafe and kept other cats company until his death in February.
We are heartbroken to announce that Ivory was euthanized by our vet this morning. His elderly body had been declining over the last few months, and we had been monitoring him closely. We were first introduced to Ivory 18 months ago when he became Ebony’s companion. Since then, he had always shown such kindness to all creatures – kittens (however obnoxious) and humans. He’s been a role model for all of us – practicing tolerance and love of all creatures. He will be greatly missed. . . #catcafebk #ivorytherat #rainbowbridge #BBAWC
Remy and Emile were adopted by the cafe this year and are kitten companions to orphans who are too young to be vaccinated, thus not allowed to join the adoptable cats.
Emile and two of our (many) bottle babies are featured on The Huffington Post today! Link in Bio. . . #catcafebk #ratsandcats #catsandrats #bottlebabies #kittens #animalrescue #spayandneuter #petrat #ratsofinstagram #emiletherat #huffpostgram #savethemall #brooklyn #nyc #BBAWC #brooklynbridgeanimals @hilarious.ted
“People don’t realize how smart and sweet [rats] are,” Levin told HuffPo. “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.”
“Because the rats are not scared of the kittens, they don’t run away and the cats don’t hunt them,” the cafe’s website explains, but “[t]he kittens are convinced that the rat tails are there primarily for them to play with.”