Owl’s Unusually Close Friendship With A Cat Has Animal Researchers Scratching Their Heads

With their swiveling heads, razor-sharp talons, fantastic eyesight, and precise hearing, owls are some of the most skilled predators in the animal kingdom. For most critters, getting eyeballed by a hungry owl means there’s a good chance they end in an owl pellet. No one had to tell Spanish falconer Jordi Amenós Basora that.

As a nature lover and bird aficionado, Jordi regularly brought his pet owl into the woods for hunting and flight practice. One day, however, another animal interrupted their session—and it made him very, very nervous…

Falconer Jordi Amenós Basora of Spain loved nothing more than to work with barn owls. He trained them to entertain the public with dazzling flights and to return to him after a hunt. With one owl in particular, though, he witnessed something he couldn’t believe.

That particular bird was Gebra, a beautiful barn owl who’d been reared by human hands since she was a tiny owlet. Despite her lifelong interactions with humans, Gebra wasn’t usually social if she didn’t need to be.

Fum & Gebra / Facebook

When Jordi brought Gebra into a nearby wooded area, she’d stretch her wings and practice smooth takeoffs and landings—the type of stuff that really pleased a crowd. One day in 2010, however, her afternoon routines changed forever.

NatGeo

Someone else started following Jordi and Gebra on their hikes: Jordi’s black cat, Fum (pronounced “Foom”), whose name meant “smoke” in Catalan. This made the falconer uneasy—there were just too many talons and claws in close proximity to each other. 

On one hike, shortly after Fum appeared, Jordi witnessed a scene that he figured would end in a eulogy. The black cat stood on a small patch of dirt while Gebra barreled down on him with all the speed of a hungry predator. Surely, Fum was doomed.

But instead of getting plucked from the ground and turned into the owl’s lunch, Fum playfully jumped up and tried catching Gebra mid-flight! This was no life-or-death situation—this was a game, and one that Jordi should have seen coming. Why?

Well, Fum and Gebra had known each other for a while, having first met in 2010 when they were each just babies. As such, Gebra cared for her feline friend and would never have hurt him!

Fum & Gebra / Facebook

“In the beginning, I was not amused at all by the game,” Jordi told Nat Geo Wild through a translator, “because I saw that it could turn for the worst. After a few days, I realized that the game was quite harmless and innocent.”

Fum & Gebra / Facebook

Harmless and innocent? Sure, but that didn’t stop this cat and owl from impressing audiences all over the world with ridiculous displays of friendship. Have you ever seen a cat high-five an owl, for instance?

NAtGeo

At times, it actually appeared as though Fum was more like an owl than a cat. Frequently, Fum would join Gebra in a tree so their playtime didn’t have to end. Obviously, their relationship knew no bounds!

Fum Gebra / YouTube

Like any partners in crime, these two critters would find themselves involved in all sorts of shenanigans. Most importantly, they soon became close to inseparable. Truly, they weren’t ordinary friends.

Fum Gebra / YouTube

In fact, the more Jordi took Fum and Gebra out into the woods, the more he realized just how special their friendship was. He’d never seen anything like it, and neither had a lot of the people he’d told about it, which gave him an idea…

Fum Gebra / YouTube

Thinking that others would love to hear about this surprising friendship, Jordi started to bring his camera on a few hikes. After capturing pictures of the animals’ enduring friendship, he posted some clips online…

NatGeo

It didn’t take long for the posts to find an audience. Jordi’s friend, Ferran Marti, confirmed it: “Jordi put the video up on YouTube and I remember one day you [Jordi] put it up on your Facebook profile and there were like a thousand visits or something.”

“I remember it that way, too,” Jordi agreed. “First it had 1,000 visits or something like that, and then I went to sleep. And the next day, there were 300,000 visits and I thought, ‘What happened?'”

What happened? The Internet couldn’t get enough of the two adorable pals, that’s what happened! Soon, people across the planet had become smitten with this unlikely cat and owl friendship.

Fum and Gebra

In no time at all, Fum and Gebra had become internet sensations. They were well on their way to superstardom when something unexpected happened that changed absolutely everything…

Fum Gebra / YouTube

In May of 2013, veterinarians diagnosed Fum with feline urologic syndrome (FUS), a disease that attacks a cat’s kidneys. At just three years old, he was already fighting for his life.

Fum & Gebra / Facebook

Not long after his diagnosis, veterinarians determined they couldn’t save poor Fum from the disease. Sadly, he passed away. Clearly upset, Jordi posted an update—a message of hope—to anyone who followed Fum and Gebra’s relationship.

Fum Gebra / YouTube

In a Facebook note, he wrote: Fum and Gebra’s “message is our richest legacy. They have been able to show us, humans, that love and friendship are the most valuable treasures we can [have].”

FumGebra / YouTube

Never was Jordi’s sentiment more obvious than in 2015, when children’s author Gia V. Martinez wrote a colorful story about the cat and the owl called A Quest for Friendship.

Fum & Gebra / Facebook

In 2017—four years after Fum’s passing—the cat and owl were still inspiring people everywhere. In one instance, students drew their takes on Gebra and Fum, including this one (“amistat” means “friendship”).

Fum & Gebra / Facebook

When you see their special friendship for yourself, you might be inspired by this adorable cat and his owl pal. But Fum certainly wasn’t the only cat to make an unusual best friend.

Caring for an animal is a huge responsibility. Sadly, some people don’t always have the resources to support their pets. In those cases, finding a new home is imperative for survival. Animal lover Emma Massingale understands this completely.

Emma learned that a six-year-old cat named Louis needed help. His owner was no longer able to care for him, and she decided to reach out to see if anyone could take the feline off her hands…

Emma, who hails from North Devon, England, jumped at the opportunity. After hearing the woman’s desperate plea, she knew that she had to welcome the poor cat into her home. He had no other option…

“His owner then went through a separation and she couldn’t keep Louis so I, of course, said I would have him,” Emma explained to reporters about the situation. Soon enough, he went to live on her farm with her other animals.

Working as a professional horse trainer, Emma spent the majority of her time out in the stables, and Louis loved to tag along every time. It wasn’t long before the cat had made himself at home.

Emma Massingale

Emma was quick to note how Louis seemed to warm up to the large animals almost instantly. “He started off just following me to the stable and walking along the walls or fences nudging the horses with his head,” she recalled.

But Louis’ affection for the horses didn’t end there; in fact, it only grew. “Then he started to jump on their backs and sit there or jump on and then off the other side to get somewhere,” she said. He was becoming more comfortable with them by the day…

“It all started when I was riding Comet and I would just tap my leg and Louis would jump on,” Emma said. “Now all I have to do is tap Comet’s back and Louis is straight there. He doesn’t need any more encouragement than that.”

Just as much as Louis liked being around all the horses, they too enjoyed his company. But it was Comet who forged the tightest bond with the feline, and before long, the pair was spending practically every waking moment together!

Emma would often spot Louis climbing onto Comet’s back, and then the two would set off into the nearby woods for a stroll. This little cat was becoming quite the regular feline equestrian!

There was one small caveat to Louis and Comet’s rides: the cat didn’t much enjoy the rainy English weather. “He is a bit of a fair-weather rider,” Emma joked of Louis’s riding preferences.

Still, Louis was always completely comfortable when riding with Comet. The two animals would stroll through the scenic woods, taking in all the curious sights and sounds. They must’ve been a pretty remarkable sight themselves!

“Comet and Louis seem to be a good combo,” Emma said of the duo’s adventures in the woods together. “If he wants the horse to stop he bites the pony’s mane. It’s crazy but funny to watch.”

Of course, like most cats, Louis tended to become distracted by other things. “If Louis gets bored he just jumps off but he seems to love it as he stays up there for ages,” Emma continued.

Emma would come along for horseback rides alongside the cat, too. “Sometimes we ride together in the arena, and other times out and about. And sometimes Louis and his brother Remi will ride together,” she said.

Emma mentioned that often when the pair encountered new people, the strangers wouldn’t even notice Louis perched on Comet’s back at first. But once they did, their hearts would positively melt!

The only thing they ever had to really worry about is curious dogs running after them. Otherwise, they were pretty much in the clear! “I have to watch out for dogs but Louis seems to like to ride, so [he] doesn’t jump down when we are out,” Emma said.

While Louis most certainly wasn’t your average cat, he did enjoy a good cuddle. “I often find them nuzzling up together. I think horses like cats because they’re so playful, but Comet really likes Louis.” Louis’s affection didn’t stop with Comet, though…

As much as he enjoyed cuddling up with Comet, Louis also liked to spend time getting cozy with Emma and the other animals on her farm. When he would arrive home from their journeys each day, he could often be found lounging around inside where it was dry.

Louis and Comet’s companionship might’ve been unconventional, but it was proof that friends can be found anywhere—and that every animal needs a good support system to be happy. Just look at how they ride together!

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