When a cockatoo came face to face with three household cats, it tried its darndest to fit in. But the bird attempted to do so in an utterly bizarre way. In fact, it was so unexpected it got a dumbfounded reaction from the troupe of moggies – a reaction that just has to be seen to be believed.
Cats have long had an intense relationship with birds, both in reality and in fiction. Famously, though, the two animals don’t usually get on. In fact, according to a 2014 study, felines are the largest human-related danger to birdlife. It sounds unbelievable, but outdoor cats kill some 2.4 billion birds in the United States every year.
The desire to hunt birds and small wildlife is ingrained in cats and governs their general behavior. After all, the animals are born predators who like to stalk their prey. But this particular cockatoo turned the tables when it decided to try and blend in with a group of cats.
Belonging to the parrot family, cockatoos have a natural ability to mimic other species, including humans. Additionally, the birds quickly discover how their own species communicates and are able to distinguish whether other birds are part of their family or not. This way, they can prevent territorial issues and identify potential mates.
Moreover, if other birds are not present, a parrot can start to copy whatever noises and voices it is subjected to. That is why those kept as pets are renowned for imitating human speech. Parrots are the most famous species for doing this, though beluga whales and elephants also use mimicry on occasion.
In the case of this particular cockatoo, a YouTube video captured the hilarious moment between the bird and three cats. The clip shows the white parrot sharing a bed with the moggies. Then the inquisitive squawker does the strangest thing in a bid to communicate with them.
The cockatoo struts over to the cats and opens its beak, but it isn’t a trill that comes out. Instead, the bird begins to meow. And it seems the felines cannot believe what they are seeing and hearing.
Sitting in a semicircle alongside the cockatoo, the trio appear unsure of how to respond. One of the cats meows softly, shapes as if to pounce at the feathered interloper but then changes its mind. After that little brush with danger, though, it is the bird who seems to be calling all the shots.
The cockatoo paces up and down the bed, convincingly meowing as it does so. When one predominantly white cat attempts to make a move toward it, the bird opens its beak wide and mimics a hiss. The cockatoo is clearly telling the cat to back off, and it immediately obliges.
Perhaps emboldened by this show of deference, shortly afterward the cockatoo approaches another of the cats, this time a black and white one. Looking taken aback, the monochrome moggy turns and walks away. But its two companions remain transfixed on the bird, seemingly hypnotized by its unusual actions.
The cockatoo continues to make lifelike cat noises throughout the video as the remaining two felines watch on closely. Warming to its theme, at one point the bird even aims a meow at the person behind the camera. Then, just before the clip ends, the bird walks over to the whiskered pair once again.
The cats shoot upright, apparently perturbed and suspicious of what the winged weirdo might do next. Although the cats outnumber the parrot, it becomes obvious that feathers are holding sway over fur. Evidently, the moggies cannot make out what this curious creature is – or what on earth it is doing.
Viewing the footage, it’s difficult to distinguish whether the cockatoo was attempting to befriend the animals or acting menacingly. It certainly gave the impression of feeling threatened by the cats when hissing at the feline who got too close. But ultimately the baffled cats had no idea exactly how to respond.
Shared to YouTube in August 2016, the comical clip quickly went viral. To date, more than four million viewers have seen the footage. And commenters had a lot to say about the gleeful scenes.
Some people pointed out the reaction of the cats and how puzzled they were by the cockatoo’s antics. “I can’t even begin to imagine how confused these kittens are,” one YouTube user wrote. Others chimed in to say that the cats were “not impressed” and probably thought they were “entering the Twilight Zone.”
Meanwhile, many commenters poked fun at the situation in general. “When you learned a foreign language but foreigners still don’t understand you,” one person shared. Another added that the parrot’s “accent still has a hint of bird.”
Moreover, cockatoos are one of the most popular birds to keep as a pet. They are native to Australia, New Zealand, and their surrounding islands, as well as the Philippines and Indonesia. However, these quirky birds are not easy to take care of.
The breed in the YouTube video is a white or umbrella cockatoo. Commonly found in the tropical rainforests of Indonesia, it is characterized by a prominent ridge of feathers on top of its head. This crest elevates to give the appearance of an umbrella when the bird is feeling animated, nervous, tense or playful.
Umbrella cockatoos have an impressive lifespan of up to 70 years if sufficiently well cared for. Accustomed to scavenging for food in the wild, those kept as pets need a special diet instead of just birdseed. The fascinating parrots have become noted for their big personalities and can learn as many as 50 words.
Furthermore, the birds are prone to being extremely loud and require a lot of attention. But despite their neediness, they can also form close bonds with their owners. Perhaps unsurprisingly, umbrella cockatoos are used to being the boss of the household – and it seems this particular bird has done a great job at letting its cat siblings know just who is in charge.