Nanny Rats and Orphaned Cats Break Ages-Old Stereotypes

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
A New York cat rescue is breaking species stereotypes by ’employing’ the most unlikely of nannies for their tiniest kittens.

We know, we know…cats don’t like rats. I mean, look at Tom and Jerry–though I believe Jerry was a mouse. Regardless, it’s a long-standing fact that rats are basically the natural prey of cats, and there is no love lost between the two.

Related: Do Cats Dream of Chasing Mice and Balls of Yarn?

Except at the Brooklyn Cat Cafe in New York City, where volunteers of the Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition facilitate a very special relationship between the most unlikely of pairs. Recently, volunteers at the cafe posted the sweetest videos ever– (trained) rats acting as ‘nannies’ to the tiniest of kittens who have special needs. The videos have gone viral, and with good reason. They’re proof that if cats and rats can do it, humans should be able to take better care of each other too!

Emile helps bathe the bottle babies. . .

A post shared by Brooklyn Cat Cafe 🐱☕️ (@catcafebk) on Jul 7, 2017 at 6:19am PDT

The rats, Emile and Remy, are ’employed’ by the cafe as kitten caretakers. The rats have been raised by the rescue group HALT, Helping All Little Things, and give the orphaned kittens baths and tender loving care when they are not able to be around other kittens.

The kittens are all under eight weeks old, and called ‘bottle babies.’ Because they are so young as orphans, they aren’t vaccinated and need to be separated from other cats.

But not from rats, who obviously are happy to step right into the role of Super Nannies to the sweet little orphans. Anne Levin, the executive director of the shelter says that Emile and Remy are very playful and loving and share snacks with the kittens, but only inside the terrarium they are kept and supervised in. Levin says the rats are not scared of the kittens because of their diminutive size, and the kittens don’t know to hunt them as they are well fed and cared for, and their natural instinct to hunt hasn’t kicked in out of necessity yet.

The staff at the Cat Cafe first saw and set precedence for this nanny relationship with Ivory, a white rat that came before Emile and Remy. The staff used to call Ivory Mr. Belvedere in reference to his superior caregiving skills he exhibited caring for a four-week-old kitten named Ebony. Ebony had been diagnosed with the fatal Feline Leukemia and was introduced to Ivory, who cuddled and loved Ebony right to her last breath. When Ivory died recently, the staff was heartbroken to lose such a dear heart, and such a friend to so many helpless kittens who just needed love.

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The rats are only ever with the kittens under close observation, and the cafe says that the rats are role models for all of us to practice tolerance and love for all creatures.

The kittens at the Cat Cafe will be available for adoption and you can check their site out to see. If you are interested in fostering rats like Emile and Remy (who live at the cafe, and are quite fat and happy there!) you can look into helping out on the HALT site as well.

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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