A family in Thailand caught sight of an out-of-the-ordinary creature lying in the middle of the road, in front of their house. The animal looked like a stray kitten, but he wasn’t what he appeared to be. What exactly was the creature?
When a Thai family stumbled upon what they thought to be a “tiny male kitten” on Dec. 8, 2016, they soon realized he wasn’t a usual house cat.
The family waited for a few hours before calling the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT) Rescue Team for help.
Upon arrival, the rescuers from WFFT were astonished. The tiny creature was actually a fishing cat kitten (Prionailurus viverrinus)—a vulnerable Southeast Asian species of wild cat.
Obviously, the kitten was born just a few hours earlier.
“We were rather suspicious as to why the kitten had been found without its mother,” WFFT wrote in a Facebook post on Dec. 9.
The rescuers questioned the family and realized why.
It turned out a few years back, the family chanced upon the kitten’s mother in a rice field. They raised the fishing cat till she was big enough to be released back into the wild.
“They told us that the mother fishing cat on occasion will return to the house she was raised for a visit,” WFFT added.
That day, the family saw the mother again. Apparently, she had just given birth somewhere near to their house, where she feels safe.
And it seemed that the fishing cat accidentally dropped one of her babies on the road while moving her litter of newly born kittens to a different location.
“Shortly after finding the kitten they left him in a box for a few hours to see if the mother would return and collect him,” WFFT wrote.
But, the mother was nowhere to be seen.
The rescuers immediately brought the cold and hungry kitten back to WFFT Wildlife Hospital.
In the hospital, vet Aon held the rare kitten, named Simba, close to his chest to keep him warm.
He was then placed in a special incubator and taken care of round the clock by WFFT’s vet team.
“Today this little kitten is two days old and seems to be a little fighter,” WFFT wrote.
It’s of utmost importance that Simba survives as “the fishing cat faces a high risk of extinction.”
In Thailand, over the past 15 years, habitat destruction, coupled with poaching and retribution killing, have led to the declining population of the fishing cat.
Sadly, despite WFFT team’s excellent care, Simba couldn’t pull through, and passed away on Dec. 10, 2016, at 3:00 a.m. under the watchful eye of vet Aon.
Rest in peace, Simba.