We had long suspected our feral cat had monkeyed his way into cabinets and cupboards like a chimpanzee. Five days ago when my boyfriend, David Stires, captured the cat – named Bear – on video, we got our proof.
In a 30-second clip, the video shows Bear trying to pry open a cabinet full of dog treats high above the kitchen counter. As he swings like a pendulum below the cabinet, he eventually opens it with his head and grabs the treats in his mouth.
Then just like that, he drops down, turns and runs out of the kitchen. Another score for the Bear.
This was not remarkable to us. The only remarkable thing was David caught it on film. So I posted it on Facebook.
We never imagined the response it would draw.
By Monday, Bear’s video had more than 5 million views. It had been shared by 116,000 people on Facebook. And my Facebook friend inbox had more than 1,000 requests from people as far away as Sweden, China, Latvia and Russia.
But it’s not me they’re interested in. They want the Bear.
We joke Bear will break the Internet.
In less than a day after the video was first posted, it surpassed 300,000 views. Two days later, Bear topped 1 million views, and David celebrated with him, giving Bear one of the dog treats he was after. By Sunday, Bear hit 3.3 million views and I projected he would top half a billion by Tuesday.
The truth is our friends have long remarked on how clever Bear is. Our neighbor, Jeanne Smaha, who watches him when we’re away finds all manner of things Bear has pulled from the cabinets. She doesn’t know how he does it.
He once opened a locked food tray that was weighted down with a 12-pound dumbbell, in the hope of making it Bear-proof. That didn’t work so well.
This has always been the way with Bear. The difference now is we have empirical evidence of his high-wire, Houdini acts.
And Bear has friends in Greece, Iraq, Japan and Turkey.
For some unknown reason there are a good dozen Bear fans in the United Kingdom. And I was happy to see Dublin, Ireland, represented in my inbox the other day.
However, to me Bear is still the feral cat a friend rescued from Canada’s boreal forest, taken back to Maine to prevent a campground owner from drowning him and his litter.
Bear could have been fish bait. Now he’s a worldwide phenomenon.
Yet, to me he’s more than another kitty in a viral video, much more than the feral kitten I took in eight years ago.
The way he sleeps up against me at night says to me he still appreciates that one kindness. I gave him a home when I already had pets. What I got in return was a wild creature that makes me laugh, smile, dance a little more, and sing out loud, just to see Bear watching me. Because I believe he knows those songs are for him.
My boyfriend says I am imprinted on Bear, like a wildlife rehabilitator who has rescued a wild animal at birth. But I believe this lovely creature knows the extent of my love for him.
And in my eyes, Bear’s Facebook following is only the universe telling me, thank you – you love one small creature, the world will love you back.
So to Bear’s new Facebook friends around the globe, back at ya.