A feral cat and a black bear are the best of friends at the Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary.
For the past seven years, a bond has formed between Sequoia, a lumbering, aged bear, and a black cat with a clipped ear nicknamed “Little Bear” by zookeepers. They lounge in the shade next to each other, wander together through the bear enclosure and even share a meal.
Sequoia, 18, came to the zoo from Tulare County. He is one of the zoo’s largest bears and suffers from arthritis.
“He’s slowed down quite a bit now,” said Jill Faust, lead senior zookeeper. “I think that is why the cat feels comfortable around him.”
If Sequoia is sleeping in the grass, then the cat is invariably a few feet away.
“This morning Sequoia was walking down the hill and the cat was walking a few feet away,” Faust said.
The zoo has a colony of feral cats, and Little Bear is part of that wild feline commune. The cat’s notched ear indicates that Little Bear has at one time been captured and either spayed or neutered.
“The cat has been here a very long time,” said Faust, who says zookeepers put out cat food for the animal. Occasionally, zoo visitors report the cat in the exhibit, and keepers assure them that the cat simply likes to hang out there.
Sequoia’s main meal is fruits, vegetables and kibble scattered to make him move around. On occasion, the two share a delicacy: the zoo Facebook page notes that Little Bear munched on donated elk meat with the bears.
Sequoia also hangs around an equally elderly bear named Tahoe. Faust has never seen either take a swat at Little Bear.
“Tahoe and Sequoia, who are our older bears, are easygoing,” Faust said. “I think the cat feels comfortable. It’s a nice exhibit with grass, branches, trees and a pool. So it must feel like a pretty safe place to the cat.”