Caturday felid: kitten rescue in Szechuan!

July 5, 2014 • 6:05 am

Speaking of Chengdu (the capital of Szechuan), I got a completely unsolicited email from a Chinese student named Yi, who, with his girlfriend Xixi, found a passel of five abandoned kittens on the campus of his university in Chengdu. After some back and forth, the kittens all got saved. Here’s the story, with photos (Yi’s emails are indented):

Me and my girlfriend, a junior at the Southwest University for Nationalities (SWUN, in Chengdu), recently bumped into a bunch of kittens around the university’s south gate. They were hanging around the bush, as shown in the photos attached. According to the guards at the gate, they seem to live underneath the curb surrounding the bush.

When we first met them, we couldn’t tell how many. In fact, we could barely see them, as they were scattered around in the bush, only making the sound “miao, miao…” There are perhaps 5 or 6 of them. Our guess is that they were recently given birth to by their mother, who is owned by some of the students at SWUN. But it seems they are left unattended because we have never seen a “mother” cat around. Of course, we hope their mother is around and does come to take care of them at times.

At any event, everyday we pass by the place, my girlfriend and I bring them a type of Chinese hotdog, made of meet and mostly starch — the food is usually eaten along with ramen noodles in China. Although we feed them on a daily basis, we rarely see them. We just leave the food at the entrance to their “home,” in the hope they come to eat it. They do. Every time we come back checking, the food is gone.

my GF feeding them

This afternoon, it was raining hard. I was hesitant to go feeding them, but my girlfriend insisted. She even imagined the kittens might be waiting for us (or their food). Surprisingly, although it was raining, they were actually waiting at the entrance (or so we thought). My girlfriend was so excited and started to prepare the food for them immediately upon hearing their voice , while I was holding the umbrella for her. She saw at least 4 kittens, two black and two yellow, in the hole. My girlfriend even caught sight of them fighting to get food; one black kitten fell over after being pushed by a yellow one. Because I was holding the umbrella, it was hard for me to take photos, to say nothing of the darkness inside their home. However, I did snap a couple, where you can vaguely see a yellow kitten facing down and enjoying her food. We were soaked in the end, but it felt fantastic as this was the first time we actually saw them eat our food and, more importantly, we got to feed them (well, my girlfriend did). We will keep doing this until we have to leave the campus in a couple of weeks, when the finals are over. Hopefully someone interested would come to adopt them at some point.

Can you make out the yellow kitten here?

a yellow kitten eating 2

My girlfriend wants me to add: the kittens are barely the size of her palm.

We finally managed to snap a few clear photos of them. When feeding the kittens, unfortunately, we suspect their eyesight seems a bit poor. It is perhaps due to malnutrition. We are bringing a diversity of food, including milk and egg. Also, the yellow kitten in the photos seems most active of all, and least afraid of strangers.

Just like Jerry Coyne the Cat!


All five of them!


This one looks like Jerry Coyne the Cat. Xixi has given it milk.


When Yi wrote me with the photos, I was sad because a Chinese street kitten has virtually no chance of survival. And although Yi and Xixi were feeding them, the kittens surely couldn’t survive on starchy Chinese hotdogs. I told him that I would be much happier if the cats were captured and put up for adoption.  Luckily, Yi and Xixi are kind, and did exactly that:

We want to thank you, also. When we first met the little cats on campus, we weren’t so sure what to do about them except for bringing some food over. It was at your encouragement that we became more serious about the idea of adoption. Even after we knew there were people willing to help us, I was still worried if we would be able to catch all of them. Thank goodness it all worked out — my beloved girlfriend played the big part!

And, sure enough, they got them all and found a nice lady to take care of them:

Today, my girlfriend and I found a lady to take care of the kittens about whom you were worried. She’s coordinated several grass-root groups devoted to saving street cats here in Chengdu. She’ll be taking care of the “babies” until all of them get adopted. Good news is that two have already been spoken for! The lady checked on each kitten when we handed them over to her. To our great delight, the babies were in a better shape than we had thought. Also, rest assured the little babies are in good hands, judging from the way she checked on each of them. She’s also a very nice person. Attached are some photos for you.

This one was labeled “They were put in this box”:

they were put in this box

Yi called this one “A bit crowded”. Indeed, but they’re on their way to a home!

a bit crowded

Yi called this photo “The nice lady to take care of them”:

the nice lady to take care of them

I then expressed my concern to Yi that the kittens might have eyesight and other health problems, and that I hoped the “nice lady” would take them to the vet.” (I can’t help it!). And she did, and they’re fine! Yi’s final report:

This is just a note that all kittens have been taken to vets by the lady who is helping them find adopters. To our delight, they are all in good shape. Attached are a number of their recent photos.





So here’s to Yi and Xixi for their kindness and persistence. They’ve saved five little lives, and I’m enormously pleased.

Thanks, guys!

19 thoughts on “Caturday felid: kitten rescue in Szechuan!

    1. Ummm. . . . . I did everything I could, and they are in the hands of the “nice lady.” I can’t keep importuning people in China about what to do, and I suspect the cats will be kept indoors from now on.

  1. Good job Xixi and Yi! I’m glad you rescued the kitties because I too was worried for them as I read the story.

  2. Well done, Xixi and Yi. Life is made of little decisions to do or not to do, and this is one decision you will not soon forget.

  3. Thanks, Yi and Xixi! It isn’t easy to know how to handle strays. We have them around here too, despite easy access to information. :-/


    As a general reflection:

    Sometimes it is good to get into the box.

      1. Sound like a reverse quantum mechanics problem. If nobody watches, does quantum mechanic still exist?

        (I feel like in Matrix Reloaded.)

    1. I meant access to cat information. We love all sorts of animals over here, so sundry care taking and veterinary information is all over the place. (The problem then becomes, it is all over the place….)

  4. Thank you, Yi and Xixi! The world is a better place when cats have forever homes — meaning you’ve just made the world a better place.


  5. My neighbor’s wife just discovered a kitten that could be a twin of the orange tabbies. Just about the same age. She adopted it (my neighbor, though, is not that much of a cat person). The kitten and I had a rousing game of chase the laser spot yesterday.

    A few years back, I went outside and noticed a tiny tail sticking out from underneath my car. When I bent down to investigate this tortoise shell kitten, about 6-8 weeks old, came out, wrapped itself around my leg and announced I was her new daddy.

    She was an adorable little thing, even though I am more of a dog person (I know…horrors). But I am allergic to cats and couldn’t keep her. She obviously was familiar with humans and I tried to find her owner. No luck. So I tried to give her to a pet adoption group. Unfortunately, locally all we have is a vet clinic and they demanded $50 up front to take the kitten. So I went searching for a kitten lover to take her. There were any number of people taken with her, but already had enough cats. One guy even bought her a box of kitty treats.

    Finally I found her a new mommy and I sincerely hope she had a good home.

  6. Yay! I am so happy the cute little kitties are in a safe place now. The existence under the bush was rather precarious and it looked like they were right on the road. Yikes!

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