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The Tale Of Two Feral Kittens

Updated on October 24, 2017
Paddycat profile image

The author of this article is an ex-adult education lecturer and retired expat who has lived in France since 2001.

The Rescue

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.

Bijou before his bath
Bijou before his bath

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!

Ambre after her bath
Ambre after her bath

The Reunion

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.

Bijou washing Ambre
Bijou washing Ambre
Feeling better
Feeling better
Ambre on the road to recovery
Ambre on the road to recovery

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.

Without a care in the world
Without a care in the world
Are we in heaven?
Are we in heaven?
This is so comfortable
This is so comfortable
That says it all
That says it all


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    • KaisMom profile image


      9 years ago from Keizer, Oregon

      I too have a feral kitten hub about two kittens who have become the happiest of cats. I would love to read an update on Bijou & Ambre.

    • Lucky Cats profile image


      10 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Oh, I am so happy for this good news. And you are such a dear angel for saving these kittens, now fully grown cats. Aren't they wonderful? We share much in common, loving cats and saving those we can. Your friend, Kathy

    • Paddycat profile imageAUTHOR

      Annabelle Johnson 

      10 years ago from Charente, France

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment. So nice to hear from another cat rescuer. Yes, it's just over a year now since we found these kittens, and they've grown into beautiful, healthy cats. The male, originally so frail and tiny, is an absolute giant now. The female is also big and healthy, and extremely affectionate, which is quite amazing considering how timid she was at first. Raising these two has been a most rewarding experience, and it's very gratifying to see them so well adjusted and contented, knowing what a terrible start in life they had. So, yes, this story definitely did have a happy ending. Once again, thank you so very much for your interest.

    • Lucky Cats profile image


      10 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      I know it's been a while since you wrote this but I just found you. I love this story and I sure hope all is well with Bijou and Ambre. They are so beautiful. I've been through the same thing many times, saving rescued feral kittens. BTW, even if they test positive for either HIV or Leukemia, they can live a good, long life if kept separte from the others so that they don't spread the disease or catch another illness considering the compromised immune systems. I hope this story turned out with a good ending..a new beginning!

    • mistywild profile image


      11 years ago from Houston, TX (Proud Texan)

      They certainly appear to be very happy. I am happy you have offered them your home as a haven.


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