Friday, October 12, 2007



Ariel and Pongo
A cat and a bird forge a relationship that defies the odds.
By Kerri Glynn

Ariel, my cat, has two good eyes, four working legs and has never thrown herself into the path of a rattlesnake to save my life. There is, in fact, nothing extraordinary about her. Or so I thought.

In a household of ten pets, she has only distinguished herself by her relationship with my blue-and-gold macaw, Pongo. It has always surprised me that my cats, who regularly chase birds outside, have always kept their distance from him. Perhaps it's because macaws are so large and intimidating, but I like to think the cats know that "Mommy's bird" is off-limits.

Don't hide your true self; learn to see your own beauty.
Ariel, however, has a special fascination with Pongo. She sits at the base of his cage and looks up at him as though he were a god. In a way, he is. Food falls from his perch into Ariel's waiting mouth - cheese, chicken, whatever I feed him. I don't know whether it's the usual bird messiness or if Pongo is actually sharing his meals. Sometimes, Ariel will even stand on her hind legs and reach up into the cage with her paw. Although Pongo screams if any of the other cats do that, he accepts it from Ariel.

Once when I was leaving on a vacation, I arranged for Pongo to spend two weeks at First Flight, a local bird store that accepted boarders. I always used a large cat carrier to transport him outside the house. He'd managed to chew some large holes in it, but it still served its purpose. I put the carrier on the kitchen counter and went into the living room to get Pongo. He walked readily into his carrier (his only pet trick); I latched the door and carried it to the car, placing it on the front passenger seat.

On the half-hour trip to First Flight, Pongo peered around, chewed a little on the plastic and held onto my finger with his claw. No squawks, no complaints.

We entered the bird store, and I put the carrier down on the counter. When I opened the door, Pongo walked out - a little quicker than usual, I noticed.

We settled him in his cage, and I picked up the carrier to leave. It was still heavy. How could that be?

I looked in and saw Ariel peering out at me. She had obviously climbed in before we left the house and traveled the fifteen miles in the carrier with Pongo. Neither had made a sound during the entire journey. Packed in together, neither had bitten or clawed - not a single feather or drop of blood was shed. Who would have believed it? No one in the bird store did.

In a world filled with warring nations, these natural enemies had forged a relationship that defied the odds. If birds and cats can get along, maybe there's hope for the rest of the world.

P.S. When I picked up Pongo two weeks later, he paused and looked into the carrier before he got in. He may be a bird, but he's not a birdbrain.


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