OAK RIDGE, TENNESSEE. — Here’s an odd pairing for you!
The unusual friendship between a Dumbo rat and a cat with the feline equivalent of HIV who became best buddies during their stay at the Oak Ridge Animal Shelter will soon be a subject on an upcoming National Geographic Channel segment.
The feature on Nat Geo WILD’s Unlikely Animal Friends program will be aired May 21, said Julie Armes, shelter supervisor.
A film crew spent an entire day capturing the critters’ antics last September, she said.
Dumbo rats are typically sold as pets. Batman the rat was originally intended to be snake food, but instead became a popular shelter mascot.
The friendship between Batman and the cat, whose name is Pumpkin, sprang up unexpectedly in November 2013 while the rat’s cage was being cleaned.
“Pumpkin just jumped right in and started purring and head-butting him (Batman), as cats do,” Armes said.
The rat started grooming the cat, and the favor was also returned, she said.
“It was a rather odd thing,” Armes admits.
Pumpkin is actually a mascot and has the run of the shelter.
“He’s one of our greeter cats,” Armes stated.
Feline immunodeficiency virus, or FIV, is a cat-only disease that can’t be spread to humans or other animals but is not easily passed to cats. The animal shelter “hopes to educate the public on FIV-positive cats,” according to a city news release.
Since the taping of their part of the segment, the rat has since died of natural causes.