Meet ‘Simba’ the two-day old fishing cat kitten (Prionailurus viverrinus). Yesterday we received a call from a member of the public who had found this little kitten in the middle of the road in front of their house. We were rather suspicious as to why the kitten had been found without its mother. The WFFT Rescue Team headed out immediately to investigate. Upon arrival we were surprised to find a tiny fishing cat kitten that was clearly only born a few hours ago. The team questioned the people that found him further to try and figure out why he was found in the road. We were told that the mother of the fishing was actually a released rescued animal, that they had found in a rice field next to the house while working a few years ago, they raised the cat into adulthood and then released it back to the wild. They told us that the mother fishing cat on occasion will return to the house she was raised for a visit. Just yesterday they saw her and it appears that she had given birth to a litter of kittens somewhere close to the house, then decided to move them to a different location shortly after they were born. While moving the kittens she had dropped this particular one in the road she had to cross to move them to a different location. Did this cat return to her home to give birth to her kittens, where she feels safe? 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, unfortunately the mother was not seen again. When we arrived we found the kitten to be very cold and in urgent need of some milk, so we headed straight back to the WFFT Wildlife Hospital with the little kitten held closely to vet Aon’s chest to keep warm.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists the fishing cat as Vulnerable (VU). Recent surveys suggest that Fishing Cat populations are in decline within all range countries at an alarming rate, particularly in Southeast Asia. Research reveals a declining population facing an array of severe threats from habitat destruction to active persecution due to perceived conflict. Poaching and retribution killing were the major causes for a high Fishing Cat mortality of 84% in Thailand, where 16 individuals have been monitored over a three-year radio-telemetry study (Cutter 2015). Habitat loss and destruction along with the killing of Fishing Cats by local people throughout the species’ range has led to a global population decline suspected to be 30% or more, in the past 15 years.
The Fishing Cat faces a high risk of extinction throughout its range and is thought to be amongst the most vulnerable of the small and medium-sized cats in Southeast Asia, reflecting the very low overlap of occupied habitat with protected areas and other conservation interventions, rather than any particular inherent higher susceptibility than shown by the other small cats. The major threat across its South Asian range appears to be habitat loss and fragmentation by developmental activities such as urbanization, industrialization, agriculture and aquaculture (prawn and shrimp farms), whereas in Southeast Asia persecution is the major threat (IUCN, 2016).
Today this little kitten is two days old and seems to be a little fighter. For now, he is under round the clock care from our vet team, spending his time in a special incubator that creates a perfect environment where his special needs can be met. As Simba is so young and very small we cannot for certain be sure that he will back it, never mind start planning for his future. For now, he is good, we will have to wait and see what the coming days will bring. We will keep you posted on his progress.