Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rescuing Kittens

Yesterday I was walking by the beach of Bengkulu when I heard the plaintive miaowing of a cat. I located it coming from a big box covered in a tarpaulin. I poked at it a bit but was afraid of being bitten or scratched. I waved down a man, woman, and child on a motorbike and drew their attention to the noise and together the man and I moved the tarp a bit to find a hole. From the noise I was expecting a full grown cat but out popped a tiny kitten the size of my hand. It was all alone and desperate. I carried it to a grassy spot and put it down but it wrapped itself around my legs and also sometimes around the other man's, though he didn't seem too interested. Worried that the kitten would starve, I went up to a fisherman and asked for some of his bait, offering to pay. He gave it to be for free and I ripped the small fish into pieces for the kitten, which hungrily chewed at it, making noises like a tiny tiger. It even nipped my finger when I tried to take a bony bit from it. I gave the man and child some money and pointed to the kitten, hoping they understood that the money was to look after it. I don't know if they will but I could only hope.

I left them and walked for an hour or so and suddenly heard more miaowing. 'Oh no' I thought. I can't save every kitten in Indonesia. I told myself to walk away. But I couldn't. The noise was coming from a boat on grass near the shore. I was expecting another small kitten but gasped when I saw two newborns, still with their eyes closed, unable to walk, just wriggling around, and no mother in sight. I bought some milk from a nearby shop but they didn't take to it so I took them to the people in the shop. About a dozen locals gathered round, no doubt wondering what this crazy foreigner was doing. People just don't seem to care about abandoned kittens here. I gave money to a small girl, hoping she'd be sympathetic, and pointed at the little kittens. I then walked away, hoping I wouldn't hear any more!


  1. Look Simon I don't mean to be an alarmist but Rabies is wide spread in the areas you are traveling. It is frequently spread by cats who scratch or even nip you. Early stages, the cat will look very normal. My son Tyson was bitten by a small kitten his mom had brought home. The kitten tested positive for Rabies and he had to have the series of shots. It was not evident that the cute little kitty was sick. If Tyson had not been treated he could have died or had serious brain damage. I recommend caution. The area you are in reports looking for tourists exposed to cats with rabies and there is high incidence of rabies in the areas you are traveling and will travel. Don't want you to become the mad professor of Borneo or anything.

  2. After reading the news from the area it would seem prudent for you to go to the health center and report your being nipped by the stray kitten. It is what is recommended. It might be best to get a medical opinion and begin shots if needed.
    Sent email with just one recent report of epidemic of rabies. Sorry to be a bummer but I do worry that you might very well have been exposed and it would be terrible for you to have such an illness.

  3. @spike91nz: I think Simon is already the mad professor of Borneo.

    However, that said, Simon get yourself checked (although if you're reading this then you're probably fine) and remember what Spalding Gray told us about rabies.

  4. The kitten didn't puncture my skin when it nipped me and I washed my hands afterwards. So I should be ok? I will get checked

  5. Point taken. I will not touch any. More cats. I was surprised at the monkey forest people were letting the monkeys touch their legs. I didn't

  6. Um, Simon - you say that there was no mother cat in sight, you do realise that feral mother cats do have to leave their young to hunt for food, unlike domestic cats where their owners bring them food? I'd be careful about disrupting situations you just walk into. I suspect the locals have bigger issues in life to deal with than rearing potentially rabid kittens. If the mother cat is not there to rear her kittens, tragically kittens will die, if you are in position to ascertain the mother is indeed permanently gone, and also in a position to look after the kittens, then fine, but if neither of this criteria are adequately met then you may have created a situation rather than solved one.