The Tale Of Two Feral Kittens
Meet Bijou and Ambre. These two tiny kittens were found living under a wooden café at a tourist spot in South West France. It's difficult to imagine how they could have managed to survive for so long, but there was no adult cat with them, and they were starving and plagued by flies. They were undersized for their age, and to look at them, it seemed they could hardly be more than five weeks old. A vet has since estimated from their teeth, however, that they were about two months old.
Bijou, the male, was rescued first. Although he was highly wary of humans, being the more docile of the two, he was easier to coax. He was also the smallest and more malnourished of the pair, and therefore slightly slower off the mark. No special trap was needed, just a timely grab when he moved close enough.
Ambre, a female, was faster and much more cautious. It took longer to catch her. When it was clear that patience and coaxing were not going to work, the only option left was to set a special trap and lure her in with food. This worked like a charm, and within an hour of setting the trap, she was caught.
Getting Cleaned Up
Bijou was very smelly and riddled with fleas. There was no option but to bathe him. Using warm water, not hot, and bicarbonate of soda, he was cleaned up. It took four rinses until the water ran clear!
Amazingly, despite his nervousness at being in a strange environment and being handled by humans, he seemed to love the whole experience. He didn't struggle at all, and purred the whole way through.
That's not a real moustache, by the way. I think it was dried milk from his mother. Something bad must have happened to her because there was no sign of her. The fake moustache washed off.
Ambre was also very dirty and flea-ridden. She had scratches on her face and under her eyes, probably where she'd been in a fight with another cat. She was the tougher of the two and more street wise.
She was also the more highly strung of the pair. Unsurprisingly, having just been caught in a trap, she was not in a good mood when she arrived at the new, strange place that was to become her home. She had to be handled with thick gloves as she was spitting and hissing and trying her best to bite. However, once soothed and reassured, she too allowed herself to be submerged in warm water up to her neck and bathed. It must have felt good because she too purred like an engine!
These two kittens have had a bad start in life. It only took a short time to catch Bijou, whereas it took five days with Ambre. During that time, they were separated for the first time in their lives and it must have been a traumatic experience.
What a joy it was to see them reunited. Bijou, who was by now looking and feeling better after a few days worth of good food and comfort, was anxious to calm his frightened, battle-scarred sister down. Once she was bathed and wrapped in a towel, the first thing he did was climb up and lick her dry.
Happily Ever After?
It's early days yet. At the moment, the kittens are adjusting to their new home and growing bigger and healthier as each day passes. They are learning quickly to trust humans. Ambre is hissing less and now loves to be handled and petted, provided she is not frightened by noise or sudden movements.
They are now flea-free, worm-free, and have been pronounced free of ear mites, which are a common affliction of feral cats.
When they are strong enough, they will have to undergo veterinary tests to make sure they are not suffering from FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus), FeLV (feline leukeamia virus), or any other nasty ailment. They will then receive their vaccinations. Until such time, they will not be able to mix with the other household animals.
In the meantime, they are happy to bask in the luxury of their new home where they are safe and warm, and where food appears regularly as if by magic. To these two little gems who somehow managed to cling to life scavenging amongst the rubble and dirt, it must seem like another world. Perhaps they think they have died and gone to heaven.
For us, it has been a wonderful experience to feed them and watch them grow stronger and healthier every day. Before, it was all about survival. Now, they haven't a care in the world.