UPDATE: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Fishing Cat Kittens
Cindy Cupps (Zookeeper IV) helps care for and monitor the three newest additions to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium – the adorable fishing cat kittens! Here’s the latest on these little fur balls.
Fishing cats have unique personalities, which can make it difficult to successfully pair and breed the cats. “Sometimes the cats are just not compatible,” says Cupps. Luckily Rybar, a five-year-old male, hit it off with Parvatti, a six-year-old female. The two are now proud parents of a litter of three: 2 boys and 1 girl.
“Parvatti is an incredible mom,” says Cupps adding that she keeps the kittens extremely clean. The keepers check in on the litter everyday to monitor their health.
The kittens are now a month old, and would roughly fit into the palm of your hand. The female is currently the largest of the litter, which is surprising because in the wild the males are larger. Cupps thinks that as soon as the kittens stop nursing and start eating solid food that the males will surpass the female in weight.
Kitten Weigh In
The little male runt weighs 477 grams
The bigger male weighs 603 grams
The female weighs 779 grams
Recently Cupps noticed that one of the males was losing weight. “We helped him out over night by giving him fluids, keeping him warm, and giving him extra formula,” she says. Parvatti accepted him back the next day without any problems.
“These babies are critical,” Cupps says because few litters are produced in zoos and there are only 32 fishing cats in the United States today. The long term goal is to someday have around 80 fishing cats in American zoos.
“This is the first litter we have had raised by the mom,” says Cupps. In the past it was necessary for the zoo to hand rear the kittens. “It is a learning process for us and we are documenting everything so we have a good timeline if we have to hand rear kittens,” she explains.
Recently, Parvatti moved the kittens out of the nesting box and onto some hay in the corner of the den. The kittens haven’t made the distinctive bark-meow territorial/breeding call yet, just little hisses.
“Fishing Cat kittens are so much fun,” says Cupps. “They are like little wind up toys, so quick with their movements and very entertaining.” These three kittens are just beginning to venture away from the nest and follow Parvatti.
For now visitors can watch a video of the kittens at the zoo’s food court, the roadhouse (nocturnal bldg. entrance) or check them out in this online video. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more kitten updates and news about when you can see the kittens at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.