Bella and Tara, a very odd couple

I’ve watched this video several times, trying to imagine what Bella and Tara did to make themselves more likeable to the other, and why either one would’ve wanted to like or be liked by the other in the first place. Very curious. It would’ve been interesting too see how their friendship started, though I wonder if the very start was recognisable.

It reminds me a bit of the way young children start friendships among themselves, or with an animal; it’s hard to say what makes them click at first, and what makes it stick.

Interspecies friendships that don’t involve humans happen relatively often in the artificial and controlled settings of homes and refuges. I’d bet that most animal lovers who keep more than one species can name an odd relationship between individuals of two different species. I hear about them often when people come to consult at the veterinary clinic, but they’re almost always between cats and dogs.

I had a rabbit a while ago who became smitten with my old nanny goat, but unfortunately it was a case of unrequited love. The friendly male lop-eared rabbit, Gontrand, whom I had adopted as a stray in the middle of winter, fell in love – or more likely, lust – with Clopinette, and showed it by following her around everywhere, trying to climb her legs and face, and laying down beside her every time she settled down to rest. In return, she gave him head butts and hoof stomps. It was kind of disturbing, and to top it all off, I didn’t notice that Gontrand wasn’t eating normally until he went completely off his feed and started dying – by the time we started hand feeding him it was too late. He went rather quickly in fact. Clopinette didn’t show any remorse for not loving Gontrand in return. I guess she found him irritating more than anything else.

This youtube video shows a rat who obviously loves his cat friend, though the cat looks bored and mildly annoyed.

I’ve always enjoyed being liked by animals. That’s why we give them a home, good food, treats and toys, and sometimes even let them sleep in our beds. Why else would we do it, if they didn’t like us in return?

What else do you do to make your animals (or any animal) like you? One thing I do as a vet to make them dislike me less is to give injections with the smallest possible needle gauge. Sometimes the liquid I have to inject is thick and viscous, which means I have to use a larger gauge than I’d like, but with vaccinations I use very small ones, 24 gauge. Most of the time, they don’t even notice I’m poking them with a needle in the back of the neck – except for the very sensitive ones of course. It makes for a slightly slower injection, but if I had to be injected myself, that’s what I’d prefer.

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12 Comments on “Bella and Tara, a very odd couple”

  1. Beijing York Says:

    Damn it brebis, you made me cry. Poor wee Gontrand.

    I’ve learned to be a better friend to cats than I was when I was younger. I play, chat and sing with them and I am rewarded with all sorts of trust and affection.

  2. skdadl Says:

    It’s wonderful to watch those connections being made, but it’s a real puzzle, isn’t it? That rat: amazing. The other rat is sort of following along, but s/he doesn’t really seem to get it, and I’m not so sure of the cat.

    Each of my cats has somehow taught me his/her own idea of a game, or just play. I think that’s the most important thing I do with them. Well, that and unconditional love — they know that I won’t hurt them, which is something that ferals take a long time to believe, but once they’ve got it, the bond is just there.

  3. Toe Says:

    Tara and Bella tears me apart, because I know how deeply elephants grieve and she will, when Bella dies long before herself. Ntl, I’ve watched the vid 3 times now. Idiot that I am.

  4. hemmingforddogblog Says:

    The cat with the pet rat is incredible. My alpha cat would have made lunch out of that rat. My two other cats bonded with out previous dog. They were semi-feral kittens when I brought them home and they latched onto our dog like she was their mother. When the dog had to be put down, one of the cats went into a ‘depression like’ state — licking herself obsessively. These cats are now 10 yrs old, still semi-feral (I can not pick them up), but they are friends with out current dog — the chocolate lab — even if she plays a little rought with them.

  5. hemmingforddogblog Says:

    grrr — typo — “even if she plays a little rough with them.”

  6. brebisnoire Says:

    hemmingford, I love the cat-and-dog friendships, they are always good stories. It’s wonderful to see cats relaxed when they’re around dogs. My three cats don’t much care for our dog, who is a large collie-shepherd cross. She hasn’t been very kind to cats in general.
    But my cats don’t mind small dogs at all, the ones who come to visit.

  7. brebisnoire Says:

    Ha, Toe, I’ve watched it at least 5 times. But I don’t think they mention how old Tara the elephant is.

  8. brebisnoire Says:

    skdadl, Beijing, I’m sure you guys have much better relationships with your cats than I do with mine. I’m allergic, for one thing, which means that I try not to touch them overly much, and most cats need a touch-based relationship.
    But it’s true, they do respond to talking and simple attention. I’ve watched a good friend of mine talk to his cat, and it’s amazing how the cat responds to the kind tone of voice and uplifting words. I should practice that more often; it’s also good for human children. 😉

  9. mouthyorange Says:

    What a wonderful video about the cat and the rat!

    I’ve got a mother and daughter cat pair, two years apart in age, who don’t like each other at all. The daughter is confident and dominant and her more elemental mother seemed to regard her as her nemesis from as soon as she was old enough to start wandering around the house and calmly defying the limits Mom tried to set. (Mom was a stray we adopted knowing she was pregnant; we kept one of the kittens and had both spayed. In return, they have the freedom to explore our wooded acreage.

    brebis, I just can’t help myself but to say that my dog’s vet says the most pleasurable part of her practice is the chiropractic side of it. She told me that the dogs she does chiro for figure out very quickly that it helps them, and they typically arrive at the clinic with a big smile on and charge ahead of their people into the examination room so they can get their adjustment. She also says it’s incredibly rewarding to see how much mobility some of her patients regain, and how much better the quality of life is for her chiro patients with degenerative conditions such as spondylosis when compared to other patients whose people don’t want chiro for them and prefer to give them steroids and so on, instead. Pertinent to your comments, she says that it’s so nice to have animals look forward to the treatment she has to offer, instead of being afraid of it and not liking it. Just a very strong hint, here — I mean, if you’re looking for ways to get your patients to like you …

  10. brebis noire Says:

    mouthyorange, I have a mother-daughter team of cats in the barn and one of my favourite things about them is that they are so happy to be together. In the summertime, they play together as if they were both kittens, even though they’re 3 and 9 years old. They are wonderful to watch.

    That’s great news about your vet and the chiropractics. I’d love to learn veterinary osteopathy, because I’ve been helped a lot by osteopathic techniques – not so much by chiropractics, but I’m sure the dogs aren’t lying 😉
    I have heard that before from vets who use those techniques on dogs and horses, but there aren’t yet that many vets who use them.

    As for cats, they don’t need chiropractors or osteopaths, because they practice yoga every day. 🙂

  11. mouthyorange Says:

    brebis, I didn’t know there was veterinary osteopathy yet. I’ve been helped a lot by osteopathy, myself.

    My dog’s vet does chiropractic for horses, too. She is based in Kingston, Ont. She’s a ways from me, but because there are so few folks doing chiro for animals yet, I was willing to regularly travel a long way for my previous dog who did have spondylosis, and that’s how I found her. She is excellent.

    Now, with the new certification thing happening where veterinarian and people-chiropractors can take a course that qualifies them as animal chiropractors, animal chiro is becoming more available. There’s already a chiropractor in my small town who is opening up her practice to animals.

  12. mouthyorange Says:

    I meant “veterinarians and people-chiroprators”.

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