That’s No Kitten! Rare ‘Fishing Cat’ Cub Rescued in Chumphon (Photos)

CHUMPHON — It’s got little spots, little paws and cute little ears but watch out – this kitty has teeth, as one of its rescuers found out.

A rare juvenile fishing cat rescued from likely captivity will be rehabilitated until it can be released back into the wild, animal control rescuers said Thursday.

Thanawat Longluelit, an animal rescue official from Buddha Prateep Langsuan Foundation, said he suspected the fishing cat cub a local farmer called for help with was poached and kept as a pet for weeks.

“He told me he found her in his palm plantation, but I think he was lying to me,” Thanawat said. “I think he wanted to keep her as a pet until someone told him keeping fishing cats is illegal. He even made a collar for it. I just cut it off of her last night.”

Thanawat said the young female cub is only a couple months old and seems malnourished.

“If nong was really taken from her mom a few days ago, I shouldn’t be able to see her spine,” he said. “I think the farmer tried to feed her cat food and milk, but she’s supposed to eat fresh meat, so now she has diarrhea.”

Thanawat said the cat was “cute,” but “could not be cuddled” because it was too quick, adding that it already “bit off my gloves.”

Since he was unfamiliar with fishing cats, who are called that for their primary source of protein and are native to South and Southeast Asia. Roughly twice the size of a house cat, they are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List.

Thanawat said he had to Google its diet.

The cub was taken to Ranong province for medical care. It will be rehabilitated until it can survive in the wild.

“I haven’t seen a fishing cat with my own eyes since I was a forest ranger 20 years ago,” Thanawat, 42, said. “They’re so rare. Soon, our children will never see fishing cats and leopard cats except in pictures.”