It was just another visit to the tiny waterfront grocery shop opposite our flat. Nothing much was moving in the heat of the afternoon and I had wandered in to pick up some cheap beer and puzzle again at the strange and exotic packages on offer.
I heard the high pitched cries as I wandered into the dark, stuffy recesses of the ‘plastic box’ isle. Amongst the abandoned packaging and temple ephemera found in every small Thai shop, I found a row of large metal bins. The cries issued from one wedged into the darkest corner. Curious, I walked over and peered inside. Crawling amongst a layer of reeking filth were two tiny kittens, one crying loudly and the other hunched, silent and motionless.
My heart sank. In an instant I knew I would take them, but I also knew I had no idea how to look after them or anyone who could help me…
That was the beginning of a tough, heart-breaking, hilarious and fulfilling two months at the end of our time in Koh Lanta, Thailand.
The silver tabby kitten, the brave soul who ceaselessly raised the alarm and cried for help, sadly didn’t make it past the following week, but her brother, the tiny black kitten, held on and eventually became Little Bean.
Hand raising one week old kittens in Thailand is no easy task. None of the resources available in the UK were at hand. No kitten formula, feeding bottles or heat pads. We just had to improvise. We made a feeding bottle from an old sauce bottle and a nipple from part of a rubber glove. We mixed formula from natural yohurt, cream and egg until we found goats milk based infant formula which seemed to work.
I can’t say looking back that Little Bean thrived in those first two weeks but he did, miraculously, live.
But then, suddenly, he had a crisis and I thought we would lose him. He stopped eating and became very thin, literally overnight. We were very worried and rushed him by tuktuk to the only vet on the island at Lanta Animal Welfare (LAW). They were incredible and saw him immediately, giving us a special food to help him recover and also worming him. We started to feed the high calorie food watered down through a syringe and he took to it immediately. From that point onwards he didn’t look back and within a week he was weaned and eating real cat food all on his own!
He also started to grow and put on weight quickly, looking more like a cat and less like a bat every day.
Lanta Animal Welfare had also told us that they would be able to care for and rehome Little Bean when we had to head back to the UK in early April. As the date grew closer I began to dread the moment we would have to hand him over. We’d all been through so much!
I knew my husband was sceptical but I was determined to find a way to bring Bean back to the UK with us. Moving animals overseas is complicated and often expensive, but again, Lanta Animal Welfare came to the rescue. They have an adoption programme where they regularly send dogs and cats overseas to new homes, so they offered to look after Bean and manage this process for us. I couldn’t quite believe it but everything seemed to be falling into place. Bean would need to stay on in Koh Lanta for three months, to complete his rabies course, but after that he could travel to the UK.
So that’s where we are now. Little Bean has settled into life at LAW and we’re hoping he can join us late summer.