Cats in Southeast Asia

It’s said that housecats live together with humans since a long, long time. Almost since 10,000 years already. That’s about since the end of the last ice age. Probably it comes together with the first sedentariness. Nomads couldn’t move with cats.

The cats in Southeast Asia have, except of some well treated pets of the middle-class, normally a much harder life than in Western countries. The ordinary people don’t care much for their animals. They let them do what they want, so long they don’t bother them.

They don’t see the animals as pets, rather as livestock. There is normally no birthcontrol done, and many of the young kittens die because they lack food and medical care. The lack of medical care is also a problem for older cats. Many of them get worms, lice and scabies. In bad cases the cats loose parts of their fur and eventually even die. Many of the neglected cats become strayers.

It’s not seldom the case that kittens are taken away from their mothers much too early and given away (or being abandoned, though normally not killed. Thai People don’t like to kill, they probably think they would spoil their ‘kharma’ by doing so). Cat’s who were taken away from their mothers too early have the trait to suck on one’s arms or fingers. They also have the tendency to develop less well (in size and health) than kittens who were fed by their mothers at least for two months.

What’s also remarkable about the cats in Southeast Asia is the fact, that many of them have crippled tails. I have heared many stories about that. Some people say, kids play with them and break the tailes. My Thai neighbour told me, Thai People would break the tailes for gaining good luck, particularly money. Thay maybe happens sometimes, but it’s not explaining the phenomenon. I saw that some cats are born with crippled tails. It must be genetically.

It’s also the case that sometimes cats end up in the cooking pot. It’s much more common for dogs, but cats are sometimes eaten by people as well. Especially in the poor, rural parts of Southeast Asian countries.

Cats are feeding almost exclusively from meat. There is no other mammal which diet is that much specialized on meat than that of cats. Additionally they eat sometimes a bit grass. Southeast Asian people give their cats food remains from their own food, what includes much rice. Being hungry, cats eat rice mixed with sauce and a bit of fish or meat, but if there is nothing else they even feed of pure white rice.


This is only a part of the richly illustrated article ‘Cats in Southeast Asia’. Read here the whole article on Cats.

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Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender

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