No matter how terrible our day, the one thing always guaranteed to put a smile on our face is a cute animal story. And we’ve got a great one for you today. Meet Pearl, an orange tabby cat, and her best friend, Willow, a donkey. Like a real-life Donkey and Puss in Boots from Shrek, this pair of unlikely buddies have become inseparable, getting up to all kinds of mischief at their home in Big Timber, Montana. Proving that friendships come in the unlikeliest of forms, Pearl and Willow’s story is the latest in a long line of quirky animal tales that make the world that little bit brighter. Despite being very different breeds (and very different sizes), Willow and Pearl think nothing of snuggling up together at nap time… although fortunately, they’ve got just about enough understanding of their weight differences to realize that when it comes time for a walk, it’s Pearl that gets to hitch a ride on Willow’s back, rather than the other way around.
The Barn Cat and Her Buddy
Pearl’s owner is Wistar Hart, a retired horse-riding instructor who’s feeling rightfully proud of her little cat’s ability to make friends. “We live in this remote area,’ Wistar tells the Metro. ‘So, we’re pretty lonely out here. It makes sense that they’d be friends”. And weirdly enough, it does. Pearl is a barn cat, rather than a house cat, but despite having a comfortable enough home in the barn and even a little family of her own, she likes to spend as much time with people and all the other animals on the farm as she can. But sadly for the little cat, not all of the other animals on the farm have proved to be quite so willing to reach out the hand of friendship as she is. Before she found Willow, she’d made several valiant attempts to befriend some of the horses on the farm. Perhaps unsurprisingly, none of them wanted a cat leaping on their backs and meowing sweet nothings into their ears.
But fortunately, there was one little animal that did. After giving up on the horses, Pearl spotted another likely looking creature in the barn. Despite still feeling a little sore from her earlier rejection, she decided to give the idea of making new friends one more shot. And this time, it worked. Within just a few hours of meeting, she and Willow had struck up a firm friendship, something that provides plenty of light relief to Wistar when she spots them together. ‘Only those two get along,’ Wistar says via MSN. ‘My horses do not deal with the cats. ‘They get annoyed and shake them off when they try to jump on their backs. ‘Willow though is always like “hey how you doing?” ‘
According to Wistar, Pearl’s favorite way to spend the day is now either snuggled down next to Willow in the straw or riding bareback around the farm on the donkey’s back. Judging from some of the photos Wistar has taken of the pair, Willow is just as happy with the arrangement as Pearl. ‘It was zero degrees the day I took the photos,’ Wistar recalls. ‘Pearl was just like “oh yeah, this is a nice warm place” and hopped on Willow’s back. I think they both just want to hang out.” But as delighted as Wistar is with the pair’s friendship, she’s got just one concern. ‘If Pearl starts being friendly to the mice, it’ll be a problem.” Thankfully, it’s probably not that likely. A cat and a donkey are one thing. But a cat and a mouse? Impossible. Or so we think…
The Boss and His Friend
Talking of strange friendships, Pearl and Willow aren’t the first donkey and cat to strike up a relationship. Back in 2016, ABC introduced us to Teton and Timber. In fairness, Timber is less a donkey and more a mini-horse. Teton, on the other hand, is all cat. And a ‘boss’ cat at that. The pair live in Snowfall Ranch along with their owners, Joanna and Scott Shaw, and a score of other animals. Like Pearl, Teton likes to make friends wherever he can. And apparently, there’s no animal too big or too intimidating for him not to snuggle up too. Horses hold a particularly fond spot in the little cat’s heart, and fortunately, most of them feel the same… or are at least willing to pretend. “The only way to explain this is that this cat is a boss. He was from the jump,” Joanna says. “He would go into the stall of our largest horse, Montana, with no qualms. Montana is a draft horse. He is huge.”
Yep, Teton is definitely ‘the boss’ alright, but some of his techniques for making friends haven’t gone down too well with some of the other animals on the farm. “The pigs do not like the cat at all,” said Joanna. “They specifically do not like getting smacked in the face because he does that daily.” They probably don’t take too kindly to the way he’s always trying to hitch a ride on their backs either, or his habit of crawling up their tails to get there. Fortunately, there’s one animal that doesn’t seem to mind anything Teton does -Timber. The first time Teton curled up on Timber’s back, the little horse was feeling unwell. When the vet walked in on the pair, she couldn’t resist snapping a few photos – most of which eventually ended up on the surgery’s website. Since then, the pair have become fast friends. Where you find one, you’ll find the other (although the one is usually on their feet and the other is usually napping on their back).
As well as regularly bringing a smile to Scott and Joanna’s faces (not to mention their vet’s), the unlikely friendship has also bought no end of cheer to the special needs children Snowfall Ranch was set up to help. “They are all so sweet and make people so happy,” Joanna says. “We all need something to smile about. Life is hard and cute animals lift people’s spirits.” Suffice to say, Teton and Timber (not to mention Willow and Pearl) are doing an awesome job of doing just that. All we can say is… roll on the next cute animal story (although don’t hold your breath on that cat and mouse tale).