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Rescuing cobalt-eyed baby of the world’s fluffiest cat

By The Siberian Times reporter
31 August 2018

Scientists challenge nature by adopting an endangered orphan kitten, aiming to release her into the wild.

The wildcat was born inside an abandoned train carriage left in the middle of the steppe, which her mother made home. Picture: Vadim Kirilyuk

Dasha the baby Pallas’s cat was less than a month old when she was found meowing in the grass of Daursky Biosphere reserve in Trans-Baikal region. 

These wild animals are the fluffiest but also the most shy - and aggressive  -  small cats on the planet. 

Cute, yes but experts insist you should not try to domesticate them, because you will fail.

With Dasha there is another problem. 

The wildcat was born inside an abandoned train carriage left in the middle of the steppe, which her mother made home.

Workers started to move the carriage around, not realising there was a family of cats, which forced the mother to abandon it.

Scientists challenge nature by adopting an endangered orphan kitten, aiming to release her into the wild. 


Scientists challenge nature by adopting an endangered orphan kitten, aiming to release her into the wild. 
Scientists challenge nature by adopting an endangered orphan kitten, aiming to release her into the wild. Pictures: Vadim Kirilyuk


‘Dasha spent several lonely days inside the carriage. Eventually she managed to climb out and gave a shout’, said scientist Vadim Kirilyuk, the reserve’s director. 

‘This is how we realised we had a pet on our hands, which had to be rescued. 

‘One of the biggest tasks was to figure out how to feed the hungry almond-shaped blue eyed fluff ball. 

‘Experienced colleagues from Moscow Zoo suggested we used a syringe for both food and drinks. 

‘We had to force her to drink, so that she didn’t die from dehydration. 

‘She was tiny and worryingly weak.’ 

Scientists challenge nature by adopting an endangered orphan kitten, aiming to release her into the wild. 


Scientists challenge nature by adopting an endangered orphan kitten, aiming to release her into the wild. 


Scientists challenge nature by adopting an endangered orphan kitten, aiming to release her into the wild. 
The Pallas’s cat, small, fluffy and very discreet has been classified as Near Threatened on the Red List of Vanishing Species due to prey base decline and hunting. Pictures: Vadim Kirilyuk


Scientists had to play the role of Dasha’s mother, massaging her stomach after each meal, and keeping a hand on the kitten’s back to help her fall asleep in a den made out of a cardboard and an old fur hat. 

Their efforts paid off and Dasha grew into a curios and healthy kitten. 

‘Her eye colour changed from blue to yellow just before she was two months old. 

'In the middle of June she went outside for the first time, and immediately ran back inside, to her humans, because she got too scared’, said Vadim Kirilyuk, the reserve’s director. 

‘She was about 45-50 days old, which is exactly when Pallas’s cat mother would have taken her kittens  out. 

‘However, hard it was for us to copy a wild animal, we had to teach Dasha to get used to wild life.

‘Without such lessons she would not have a chance to learn how to live independently later.’ 

Scientists challenge nature by adopting an endangered orphan kitten, aiming to release her into the wild. 


Scientists challenge nature by adopting an endangered orphan kitten, aiming to release her into the wild. 


Scientists challenge nature by adopting an endangered orphan kitten, aiming to release her into the wild. 


Scientists challenge nature by adopting an endangered orphan kitten, aiming to release her into the wild. 


Scientists challenge nature by adopting an endangered orphan kitten, aiming to release her into the wild. 
Dasha pictured happy in her new home.  Pictures: Vadim Kirilyuk


The scientific team’s ambition is to make sure that Dasha can be let back into the wild despite starting her life with humans, which can be a very tricky task given she never had a ‘proper’ wild training.

Vadim, who has been documenting Dasha’s progress from day one, said: ‘After three months of constant care and worries the day has come to say that young female Pallas’s cat Dasha will be free, but still supervised. 

‘She is not ready to live on her own yet.’

The Pallas’s cat, small, fluffy and very discreet has been classified as Near Threatened on the Red List of Vanishing Species due to prey base decline and hunting. 

In Russia, the secretive and poorly-researched animal lives in Trans-Baikal region, along with the republics of Buryatia and Tyva, and the Altai mountains. 

Dauria Nature reserve reported growth in number of cats of their territory to over 100 in the last two years.

Scientists challenge nature by adopting an endangered orphan kitten, aiming to release her into the wild. 
Reserve's director Vadim Kirilyuk pictured with amother Pallas's kitten (not Dasha)


Overall in there are more than 10,000 in Trans-Baikal region, it is estimated. 

But there is only one like Dasha - raised by humans. The cats shun humans but also other Pallas’s cats.

Short-clawed and flat-faced  they live in caves, crevices or abandoned burrows, their fur acting as camouflage on grey rocks. They live alone usually high in arid and mountainous areas. 

Their scientific name Otocolobus manul means ‘ugly-eared’.

Despite this we’re wishing Dasha very best luck as she heads back to the wild. 

If we hear more about her progress, we’ll keep you informed. 

Dasha the Palla's kitten, all pictures by Vadim Kirilyuk

Scientists challenge nature by adopting an endangered orphan kitten, aiming to release her into the wild. 


Scientists challenge nature by adopting an endangered orphan kitten, aiming to release her into the wild. 


Scientists challenge nature by adopting an endangered orphan kitten, aiming to release her into the wild. 


Scientists challenge nature by adopting an endangered orphan kitten, aiming to release her into the wild. 


Scientists challenge nature by adopting an endangered orphan kitten, aiming to release her into the wild. 

Comments (19)

SO SO BEAUTIFUL LITTLE CAT.MADE ME SMILE
Frank Maiello, Lynbrook New York
05/09/2018 06:59
17
0
Cute kitten with round pupil...Very important to protect them
Jocelyne, FRANCE
01/09/2018 03:10
28
1
Without her mother to show her how to survive, she wont live long in the wild
Alex, Sweden
01/09/2018 02:04
10
6
let's just hope that she will never get near a cat -lover- who for sure would love to catch her and sell her for $$$$$ to another -lover-. Do not show where you set her free, please! Or do not write when it will happen!
Benedikt MORAK, Moscow
31/08/2018 19:44
29
1
12

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