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.

NatGeo

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. And his worries were seemingly justified…

NatGeo

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.

megaxibeca / YouTube

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?

megaxibeca / YouTube

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.”

NatGeo

“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?'”

NatGeo

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 most rich 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. Watching Gebra and Fum play will bring a smile to your face—and will ensure their powerful message lives on!

Talk about an adorable and powerful friendship between this cat and owl! Hopefully all the fun and love Fum and Gebra shared will continue inspiring people all over the world.

Share this amazing friendship with your friends below!

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