ANNE LEVIN: Everyone always likes to see some kind
of cross-species relationship, I think it gives all of us hope that, you know, we can
all get along and peace is a possibility. COMM: Wander in to the Brooklyn Cat Café
on Atlantic Avenue and you could end up leaving with more than just a coffee. ANNE LEVIN: Started Brooklyn Cat Café as
a way to have an adoption space, allows us to have anywhere from 20 to 25 cats fostering
in this location. So, the Cat Cafe has been very successful in terms of getting cats adopted.
We started in May 2016 and we had almost 300 adoptions our first year. COMM: Cat Café started in China and Japan.
But this is the first of its kind in Brooklyn. Manager Anne Levin sees it as a place for
customers to relax but also as a haven for vulnerable cats. ANNE LEVIN: We have a kitten terrarium is
what we call it, which always has, you know, a nursing mom and some kittens that have been
found and rescued. This kitten, her name is Anastasia and she was actually an orphan.
She has a little bit of a deformity with her legs. If you see, her legs are kind of, off
to the side. So, we do little strengthening exercises like this. The great opportunity
for us to talk to individuals about community cat issues and things that they can do in
their neighbourhood to help the local cat and dog population. COMM: And there is a twist in the tale. When
Ebony, one of the café’s kittens got sick, it led to the most unlikely of friendships. ANNE LEVIN: One of the kittens we had about
two years ago was tested positive for feline leukaemia. She couldn’t be exposed to other
cats but she was desperately lonely. And, so we were looking for a small animal that
could be a companion. And, so we found a rat that needed rescue. He ended up being a white
rat. So, of course we called him Ivory. ANNE LEVIN: And Ebony and Ivory quickly became
great friends. Ebony did end up having leukaemia. So, she had a very short life, only 5 months.
But her life was immeasurably enriched by having a friend and companion to have play
with and snuggle up with. So, once Ebony died, Ivory was used to cats. We put him in the
terrarium and the mother cats seemed to be pretty happy to have someone to play with
their kittens and take the pressure off. Ivory was about, well, over 2 years old but in February
and he passed away and we missed him a lot. And, so we reached out to HALT (Help All Little
Things). It’s a New Jersey rescue that does essentially what we do for cats,
for small mammals and they had two rats. ANNE LEVIN: That had been raised around cats
and weren’t scared of them. So, we adopted them for our new Café Cats. And Remy and
Emile have been here ever since. They have a great time hanging out with the kittens.
It turns out that Emile especially has become very paternal and he likes to groom and, you
know, kind of comfort the kittens. Remy just likes to play with them and share their food.
People who have individual rats find that they are really great companions with their
cats. LUCIA: I love it. I love cats. I love rats.
Rats get the stereotype that they are super dirty, like subway rats. And they are actually
so smart and they are so social and so are cats. BOY: Do they bite? ANNE LEVIN: No, these guys don’t. They are
very friendly. BOY: Wow, their tail! ANNE LEVIN: Yeah. ANNE LEVIN: We do hope that, you know, Remy
and Emile can act as ambassadors to people who don’t have any experience with rats
outside of the subway. You know, turn that bad reputation into something more positive. LUCIA: I think it’s awesome. If rats and
cats can get along then so can the rest of us.