Thursday, April 26, 2012
We don't usually think of wild animals as having the capacity to know when another species needs help to survive, and then doing what they can to help. But that's exactly what happened when an abandoned kitten was left to fend for herself. A wild crow swooped down, not to hurt the kitten but to protect her, and he is credited with saving the kitten's life.
Ann and Wally Collito have always been animal lovers. Living on the outskirts of town in North Attleboro, Massachusetts they would sit on their porch and watch the wildlife. One peaceful day in 1999, they noticed a small kitten about three months old walking around the edge of their yard. A couple of days later, they saw her again and noticed a wild crow hanging around the kitten. At first, they thought the crow was trying to hurt the young cat, but they were walking beside each other down the street.
When they kept seeing the kitten, Ann was afraid she hadn't eaten in a while, so Ann decided to set out some food for her. However, Ann and Wally quickly discovered the kitten wasn't as hungry as they had feared. They watched in amazement as the crow walked around their yard and gathered up bugs and worms. He then went over to the kitten and poked his beak into her mouth, feeding her what he had gathered. There was no doubt in their mind, the crow was taking care of the kitten in the only way he knew how. He even showed her where to find water.
Ann named the kitten Cassie, and the wild crow was given the name Moses. No one really knows why or how the two became friends. Crows are intelligent birds, but to see natural enemies acting like friends is definitely not an everyday occurrence. Ann called her vet to see if they could give her any advice on what to do. They were as amazed as Ann and Wally, and suggested they get the kitten and crow on videotape to prove their story, otherwise no one would believe them. So that's exactly what they did. You can see their video here.
For the next eight months, Ann videotaped a unique and unlikely friendship between a cat and a wild crow. She documented the day-to-day antics of Cassie and Moses as they interacted with each other like any friends would do. There was no question Moses had taken Cassie in under his wing and was caring for her as if she was his own. When the kitten wandered out into the street, Moses would squawk and complain until Cassie returned to the sidewalk. Sometimes, he would walk up to her and push her out of the road. The vet figured they met when both of them were young and somehow Moses knew Cassie needed help. Everyone agreed that he saved Cassie's life by feeding her.
The friends spent their days playing and teasing each other. The kitten had kept her distance from Ann and Wally when she and Moses first started hanging out in their yard, but over time she learned to trust them and started spending her evenings inside the couple's home. In the mornings, Moses knocked on the door with his beak and Ann let Cassie out so she could spend the day with her friend. Even Moses learned to trust the Collitos.
Their friendship lasted for almost five years. One day, Moses flew off and never returned. One could speculate something must have happened to him. But he could have left on his own, knowing Cassie was in good hands and safe. We've all had friends come into our lives at a time when we needed them the most and then fade away over time. I prefer to think Moses found a mate and knew it was time for him to move on with his life.
Cassie and Moses shared everything, including meals. Even we can't explain why a friendship begins, it just happens. Trust is universal and crosses over to other species, as Julia Williams discovered in her article, A Lion, a Tiger and a Bear.
These amazing animal friends who should have been enemies can teach us all how special and important the power of trust is. Cassie is now around 12 years old and living with Wally. Sadly, Ann passed away in 2006. “Cat and Crow,” a children's book written by Lisa Fleming, was released in October, 2011 in conjunction with National Feral Cat Day. The book was written to honor these two unlikely friends.
Read more articles by Linda Cole