Strange Bedfellows: Colorado Cat Named Gizmo and a Turtle Named Shelly Become the Best of Friends
"People must have renounced...all natural intelligence to dare to advance that animals are but animated machines...It appears to me, besides, that (such people) can never have observed with attention the character of animals not to have distinguished among them the different voices of need, suffering, joy, pain, love, anger, and all their affections. It would be very strange that they should express so well what they could not feel."
No one ever has accused cats of being cosmopolitans. Au contraire, they are primarily loners who stick to their own turf. On those rare occasions when the mood to be sociable strikes them it is usually in the company of either other cats or their caretakers that they choose to while away the hours.
Circumstances and upbringing occasionally, however, thrust even the most standoffish felines into some rather unexpected friendships with the members of other species. Nevertheless, the bond that has developed between a light-brown-colored tomcat named Gizmo and a turtle named Shelly at the Evans, Colorado home of Marisa Barton is, to say the least, quite extraordinary. (See photo above.)
"I kinda think they like each other. They like to cuddle," Barton told KUSA-TV of Fort Collins on April 5th. (See "A Cat and a Turtle Become More Than Friends.") "We call them the odd couple."
At first, Shelly was afraid of Gizmo but within a couple of months they, perhaps out of loneliness, had become best friends. "He doesn't have a girlfriend and Shelly doesn't have another turtle," Barton explained.
Perhaps even more unusual was the adoption of an abandoned kitten named Cassie by a crow named Moses at the North Attleboro, Massachusetts home of Wallace and Ann Collito back in 1999. (See photo below.)
According to the Collitoes, Moses not only procured food for Cassie but also kept her out of the road as well. (See YouTube videos entitled "Can Cat and Crow Be Friends?" and "Crow and Kitten Are Friends.")
Almost as unprecedented is the friendship that has developed between a male cat named Pussy, a magpie named Maggy, and a bird simply called Yellow Bird on the farm of Barney Smart and Adele Crofskey in Waitara, New Zealand. (See photo below.)
Smart, an avid hunter, found Maggy in one of his possum traps when she was just a baby and subsequently hand-raised her. "I don't think she knows that she's a magpie," he told the Taranaki Daily News on May 19th. (See "Talking Magpie Tops Pecking Order as Cat Befriends Birds.")
The unlikely trio play and sleep together, like Gizmo and Shelly, but go their separate ways at mealtimes. Crofskey attributes Pussy's tolerance for his feathered friends to a combination of laziness and his daily fare of fresh rabbit meat shot by Smart.
"...Pussy's never been much of a hunter or he would have eaten Yellow Bird," she told the Taranaki Daily News in the article cited supra.
In a small village outside Amman, Jordan, an unnamed orange cat has taken in five baby chickens that were orphaned after a dog killed their mother. (See photo at the bottom of the page.)
The cat, who has since given birth to three kittens, nonetheless continues to care for the chickens. (See Waleg.com of Tunisia, April 4, 2008, "Cat Caring for Five Orphaned Chicks.")
Another interesting bond is the one that occasionally develops between cats and deer. Back in 2006, a dying cat named Sammy from Billingham, Washington was comforted during his final days by a deer. (See Cat Defender post of January 16, 2007 entitled "Dying of Kidney Failure, Nine-Year-Old Cat Named Sammy Is Shown Compassion by an Unexpected Friend.")
In Colorado Springs, a black an white moggy named Lucy actually seeks out the society of a group of deer. (See Cat Defender post of April 4, 2007 entitled "Colorado Springs Cat named Lucy Confounds Her Owners by Taking Up with a Herd of Deer.")
Cats and dogs, although most often antagonists, sometimes can become such close friends that the bond extends beyond the grave. That was the case with a white cat named Arthur from Wigan in Manchester and a Lancashire Heeler named Oscar.
When Arthur died in January, Oscar watched his guardian, Robert Bell, bury the cat in the yard. During the night he slipped out through the unlocked cat flap, dug up Arthur's corpse, and dragged it back into the house.
Bell discovered the duo snuggled up as usual the next morning in the bed that they had shared for so long. (See Cat Defender post of January 18, 2008 entitled "Heartbroken Lancashire Heeler Named Oscar Digs Up and Retrieves the Corpse of His Feline Playmate, Arthur.")
In Amesbury, Massachusetts, a blind female box-terrier named Aspen belonging to Diane and Les Parker was left distraught after Yodi, a tomcat, disappeared over Labor Day weekend last year.
For ten years Yodi had served not only as Aspen's eyes, but also as her best friend. (See The Daily News of Newburyport, October 3, 2007 entitled "Blind Dog's Cat Friend, Guide Is Missing.")
In these types of cross-species bonding, dogs can be equally caring for cats. For instance, in Rose Valley, Washington, a three-year-old dachshund named Emma adopted five feral kittens in 2006. (See Cat Defender post of July 17, 2006 entitled "Dachshund Named Emma Adopts Quintet of Feral Kittens That Her Mistress Cruelly Stole from Their Mother.")
In Luton, England, a fearsome nineteen-month-old Rottweiler named Elsa adopted an abandoned kitten in 2005. (See Cat Defender post of October 15, 2005 entitled "Elsa, a Rottweiler Feared in the 'Hood, Shows Her Soft Spot by Adopting an Abandoned Kitten.")
At the White River Humane Society in Bedford, Indiana, a golden retriever named Rosie also has adopted a kitten. (See The Times-Mail of Bedford, June 6, 2006, "Retriever, Kitten Comprise Odd Couple; Strays Develop Bond Inside Animal Shelter.")
Although most of these relationships can be chalked up to either the nurturing instinct or special circumstances, that clearly is not the entire story. In some cases, there is clearly evidence of cross-species friendship and even perhaps love.
After all, there really is not much difference between men and animals except for the fact that the latter are less destructive and considerably more honest. "People must have renounced...all natural intelligence to dare to advance that animals are but animated machines," Voltaire said in response to the sottise put forward by the Cartesians and others. "It appears to me, besides, that (such people) can never have observed with attention the character of animals not to have distinguished among them the different voices of need, suffering, joy, pain, love, anger, and all their affections. It would be very strange that they should express so well what they could not feel."
Photos: KUSA-TV (Gizmo and Shelly), Moggies (Cassie and Moses), Mark Dwyer of the Taranaki Daily News (Pussy, Maggy, and Yellow Bird), and Waleg.com (cat with chicks).