When Kitty Met Bear…

September 16, 2012


First thing’s first: voting on the caption contest!  I was worried that I’d put up a sub-par photo for you, in terms of being caption-worthy.  I was also worried too many people would know the back-story.  But even if I did, the entries were awesome, thus establishing one of my goals: to be able to produce mediocre work that’s then made great by other people.  Hurray!

In any case: please vote for your favorite, and then continue below to learn the true story behind the photo.  I strongly advise not reading the story until after you’ve voted.

Okay, ready?  It’s a great, great story…

So, one day at the Berlin zoo, employees got to work and when they got to big, furry bear Mauschen’s pen, they discovered a cat sitting in there.  Just sitting there, next to the bear with that ‘Yes? Do you need something?’ look that cats have.  They had no idea where it had come from or how it gotten in.  Employees were concerned, but didn’t know what to do about it.  The cat stayed. And stayed. And stayed.

Quickly Mauschen and the cat, soon named Muschi, become close friends.  They slept together, played together, sunbathed together, and even – incredibly – ate together.  Cats can’t even share with other cats.  And bears?  Also not known for their food-sharing skills.

It was a pretty great deal for both of them, but the cat in particular.  Lots of fish, people looking on him adoringly, and a pack-mate who was going to get harassed by ZERO dogs.  (Also, you just have to love the self-esteem on cats. You know the cat is thinking, “Hm, you’re a big, tough predator… I’m a big, tough predator… yeah, we should hang out.”)

During a period when Mauschen’s pen was being remodeled and improved he had to be kenneled.  Far from staying with the turf, Muschi sat outside Mauschen’s kennel, meowing, pacing, and rubbing against the bars.  He wanted his friend.

For years they were inseparable.  An amazing, unlikely friendship.

Of course, as stories of real life must, there is sadness.  A little while back, at the age of 43, Mauschen passed away from an illness.  Muschi, reportedly, was deeply grief-stricken.  He spent his days yowling and searching the pen for Mauschen.  Eventually, of course, the pen was needed for a new bear, and Muschi had to be removed, away from the new bear who would be frightened and territorial.

It’s sad that the story has to end that way, but they both got to have a life-long friend – something we all hope for.  And this is one of those stories you think of when people talk about animals not having feelings, or complex thoughts, or having a sense of friendship.

Now you see why I wanted you to vote on the caption contest first…

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About The Byronic Man

Recently voted "The Best Humor Site in America That I, Personally, Write," The Byronic Man is sometimes fiction, but sometimes autobiography. And sometimes cultural criticism. Oh, and occasionally reviews. Okay, it's all those different things, but always humorous. Except on the occasions that it's not. Ah, geez. Look, it's a lot of things, okay? You might like it, is the point.

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54 Comments on “When Kitty Met Bear…”

  1. Life With The Top Down Says:

    There is such a great message in that story, one that this world could use right about now. I am definitely glad I did not know the back story before the contest.


  2. 1pointperspective Says:

    A lovely story. Any closer than Germany and those two would have made me itch.


  3. Michelle Gillies Says:

    I knew the back story but not the ending. Perhaps you could do a where are they now segment and find out where Muschi is now.


  4. Elyse Says:

    Great story B’man. I couldn’t come up with a caption before reading it. Now the only one I’d put forth is Awwwwwwwwww.


  5. She's a Maineiac Says:

    That is an amazing story. I had no idea! So incredibly sweet.


  6. Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson Says:

    I didn’t know it either. *weep* and now I’ve positively come undone.


  7. Don't Quote Lily Says:

    Although it’s sad how it ended, that was such a sweet story. Animals are awesome, and of course they feel just like we do.

    Oh and yes, I’m glad I voted first!


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      There’s a great documentary on animal emotions called (and I might screw up the title a little), Why Dogs Smile and Chimpanzees Laugh. It’s really, really interesting. Also, though, it would make Sexy Stalin get teary.


  8. Hippie Cahier Says:

    I’m glad I voted for a caption first, but let me just tell you that was no easy feat. They’re all great.

    I love the story, too (except for the sad part, which I agree is unavoidable in a real life tale), especially your telling of it. So spot on about the feline attitude.


  9. wildramp Says:

    I’m going to repost your blog….the poll results showing the highest about hormones fits our group…..and I thought it would be a way to introduce you to them as well.


  10. speaker7 Says:

    Why must you make me feel an emotion?


  11. Go Jules Go Says:

    I just sat here for five minutes, until I could force myself to type anything but “AWWW.” (And yes, I’m glad I voted first! So great.)

    Now I’m going to pretend you asked us to come up with ways Muschi got into the pen for your next CYOA series. Because maaybe I like to think a friendly giraffe was involved.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      I could be remembering wrong, but I think I remember reading that they tried to keep him out but every time they’d close up holes in the fences or whatever, there he’d be the next morning.

      That or it was a giraffe. One of the two…


  12. mistyslaws Says:

    I love hearing stories about unlikely lifelong companions, animal or otherwise. It gives me hope for this crazy screwed up world. Thanks for sharing that…..ya big softy! 😉


  13. k8edid Says:

    Love the pictures, the captions, and the story…touching.


  14. madtante Says:

    That’s so sweet. And it’s the cat’s attitude, absolutely. Only a cat could’ve pulled that shite off.


  15. Jackie Cangro Says:

    What a sweet story! I hadn’t heard of it before. Thanks for posting that photo.

    Reggie has a stray cat friend who looks a bit like Muschi, except with white paws. The cat won’t go to any other dogs or people in the neighborhood. Only Reggie.


  16. H.E. ELLIS Says:

    That is a sweet story. If only people could be so lucky.


  17. atothewr Says:

    Sad ending – great story. As a side bar, cats do eat together. We have two and they do it all the time. Nice post.


  18. benzeknees Says:

    I didn’t know about this story – thanks for bringing it to us!


  19. Lorna's Voice Says:

    I voted, and now it makes purrfect sense!


  20. Laura Says:

    What a beautiful story. I love the pictures, especially the very last one.


  21. Eric Benac Says:

    And people say cats have no capacity for love.


  22. Edward Hotspur Says:

    I was going to caption the story “Interspecies couple bonds over their shared love of the University of Cincinnati” (Mascot: Bearcats) but the story shamed me into not doing that. And the fact that the captions were closed, and I was voting for one of the ones that were the ones.

    Sad story.


  23. Andrea Kelly Says:

    Now that is an adorable story!


  24. earthriderjudyberman Says:

    The only other unlikely animal friendship I’ve read about was: the hippo and the Galapagos Islands turtle, and the former homeless dog who rescued some kittens who’d been tossed out in a box. (The latter recently surfaced on the Internet.)
    I loved your wonderful story and photos. I did vote first before reading.


  25. Sandra L Keenan Says:

    Absolutely love this story. How heartwarming


  26. thesinglecell Says:

    Awww, how awesome! One question: How does one kennel a bear? Are they crate-trained? (I guess that’s two questions.)


  27. andshelaughs Says:

    Wonderful story!


  28. becomingcliche Says:

    Oh, my gosh! What a great story! Now I need to hug someone…


  29. africanstardust Says:

    Man. I don’t think a blog post has ever made me cry before. I mean, this one didn’t, but I was close. So much love for these two.


  30. susielindau Says:

    That is such a sweet story! We had a bear here in Niwot last Thursday. I am keeping a look out since my yard is loaded with apples!


  31. pegoleg Says:

    Where’s my “awwww” button? That’s just too cute of a story. And the captions? Not too damn shabby, either.



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