When Irina Stepanova brought a little parrot into her home, she had no idea how her pet cat would react. Would the pair scrap it out – or would they hit it off? There was only one way to find out, so the pet owner tested her pets’ relationship by setting the bird free. And when she did, the cat was waiting patiently to greet the new arrival.
Stepanova lives in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, where she shares her home with a big ginger cat called Bonifazii. However, when the puss was ten years old, Stepanova decided to introduce another animal into their fold. And it’s fair to say the new addition might have caused some tension at home.
That’s because the pet in question was a parrot. This could have proved problematic since cats are known to hunt birds in the wild. Placing a feathery friend in Bonifazii’s own lair, then, might have proved too tempting for the cat to resist. With that in mind, Stepanova invested in a trusty cage to keep the parrot safe.
She named the little bird Yasha and soon fell in love with his chirpy personality. In common with many bird owners, Stepanova thought it would be nice to let the parrot roam around, away from the constraints of his cage. So she decided to free the bird to see if he and Bonifazii could perhaps be friends.
It was certainly a risky plan, but one that Stepanova was hopeful would pay off. So she cautiously opened the door to Yasha’s cage and watched as the bird circled the room while Bonifazii looked on. However, Stepanova could never have imagined what would happen next.
Relaying the turn of events to The Dodo in 2017, Stepanova revealed, “I began to let [Yasha] out of the cage. He flew and Bonifazii calmly watched the parrot. Then Yasha landed on the floor and met the cat.” But amazingly, the moggy barely moved a muscle.
The cat’s killer instincts did not take over, and instead an unlikely friendship began to form between the two animals. Soon enough Stepanova was letting Yasha out of his cage on a regular basis, and Bonifazii was only too happy to greet him as an equal.
Before long Stepanova began documenting the cat and the parrot’s burgeoning relationship on Instagram. A quick scroll downStepanova’s feed shows Bonifazii and Yasha hanging out together, enjoying snuggles with their human and even curling up for a cuddle.
According to Stepanova, the pair’s favorite game is hide-and-seek. “They play together and run around the apartment,” she explained. Describing her pet’s unique bond, Stepanova added, “The parrot flies out of the cage and immediately looks for the cat.”
In fact, Bonifazii is so tolerant of Yasha that he even lets the bird sit on his head. Not that the cat’s placid nature came as a surprise to Stepanova. “Whenever I’m home, the parrot cage is always open,” she said. “Bonifazii is a tolerant cat, and very gentle. I trust my cat.”
Stepanova’s faith in Bonifazii is so strong that she’s willing to leave him alone with Yasha. However, she and her camera are never too far away, which is good news for the cat and bird’s 4,000 Instagram fans. In this way, they can keep up to date with the animals’ adorable antics.
While Bonifazii and Yasha’s bond is undeniably beautiful, it’s also pretty unique. In fact, cat behavior experts such as Celia Haddon commonly advise pet owners to err on the side of caution when it comes to introducing cats to smaller animals.
Explaining her warning, Haddon said, “Although you will see cats being friendly to other species like house rabbits or parrots on YouTube, these are the exceptions.” So, she added, “Never take this for granted. Always supervise.”
Haddon went on to reveal that no matter how friendly two animals may seem, their wild natures are hard to suppress. “Something the other animal does – a squeak or a sudden movement – could trigger the dormant hunting instinct, and the feline friend could become the feline hunter,” she said.
But while Haddon clearly isn’t convinced by Bonifazii and Yasha’s friendship, their many fans believe otherwise. Commenting on a photograph of the two buddies, one user gushed, “Seriously the cutest page on Instagram. Anytime I’m in a bad mood, all I gotta do is look at one of these videos and I forget.”
Given the unusual nature of Bonifazii and Yasha’s bond, the pets’ unlikely harmony soon captured the imagination of thousands of animal lovers. Indeed, when Russia Beyond shared a video on Facebook revealing the cat and bird’s relationship in 2017, many users couldn’t believe what they were seeing.
In the comment section, one such person marveled, “With my cats, [a] bird could not survive one second. I guess the secret of their friendship is that they grew up together.” Meanwhile, another person mused, “How lovely to watch, we could all learn from kitty and little bird.”
As news of Bonifazii and Yasha’s friendship spread, some people suggested that because the bird had been introduced to the cat at such a young age, Yasha had in fact assumed that the pair were in some way related. And perhaps that would explain why the parrot follows Bonifazii around so intently.
However, what’s not clear is why Bonifazii’s killer instincts have never kicked in. The patient cat allows Yasha to ride around on his back and even tolerates scratchy beak kisses on his sensitive little nose. Moreover, after five years together, it seems unlikely that the cat will turn on the bird any time soon.
It’s fair to say that no one can really explain Bonifazii and Yasha’s friendship. And with that in mind, it’s probably best that pet owners don’t try to recreate the animals’ alchemy. After all, according to Celia Haddon, “Where animals are concerned, it’s better to be safe than sorry.”