At the Brooklyn Cat Cafe, a litter of rescue kittens has the most unusual babysitters: a pair of rats named Remy and Emile.
The orphaned kittens don't have a mother cat to keep them clean and are still too young to groom themselves. That's where Emile comes in!
Dubbed "bottle babies," these kittens are often orphaned and in need of vital socialization but are too young to get their vaccinations and can't be exposed to other cats. So the rats seemed the purr-fect fit.
Anne Levin, the founder, and manager of the Brooklyn Cat Cafe notes that Remy and Emile “sleep with [the kittens], and they all cuddle up in the hammock when the kittens are old enough to get up there,” Levin says.
Emile and Remy were raised around cats from a young age and are not scared of the kittens one bit. Unafraid, the rats don't run away and trigger the kittens' natural hunting instincts.
Even so, all visits are closely supervised to ensure nobody gets hurt, especially since the kittens think the rats' tails are made especially for kittens to play with.
Emile and Remy are rescue ratties from HALT (Helping All Little Things), a small-animal rescue dedicated to aiding all the little creatures in need of help!
As if this story wasn't already straight out of a Disney movie, Remy and Emile are named after the main characters of Ratatouille.
The unlikely relationships between hunter-and-prey at the Cat Cafe started two years ago when Ivory the rat formed an unlikely bond with a tiny, 4-week-old orphaned kitten named Ebony. Diagnosed with Feline Leukemia, Ebony was unable to be around other kittens in fear of spreading the virus to them, but she bonded quickly with Ivory and spent the remainder of her short life playing and snuggling to her heart's content. Ebony’s life was “so enriched for having a rat friend in Ivory,” Levin said.
While the kittens benefit from the interspecies socialization (and socialization in general), these rat nannies also give rats a much-needed PR boost.
“People don’t realize how smart and sweet [rats] are,” Levin told The 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.”
While Remy and Emile are permanent residents of the Cafe, if you are interested in adopting one of the kittens, contact Brooklyn Cat Cafe for more information!