From the coronavirus epicenter of Wuhan comes a heartwarming story of triumph over adversity, of love and loss. But this tale — which is ricocheting around Chinese social media — is not a human story but a feline one.
It centers on Lele, a two-year-old British shorthair cat who lived with a big family in Wuhan and who happened to be pregnant during the epidemic.
Seven members of one family became infected with the coronavirus and, one by one, were hospitalized. But the family members were reluctant to ask a neighbor to look after Lele, worried about exposing them to risk of infection.
So, they set out two big bags of cat food, and a trough of water for her. They also built her a comfy nest in which to have her babies.
Some 40 days later, the matriarch of the house came home. She found Lele, much thinner but still alive. Also alive: four healthy kittens. She called her husband, still in hospital, and told him the kittens were big enough to run now.
“When a new life was born, I felt there’s hope, I haven’t been discharged at the time [when my wife called me], they were weaned when I came back,” the man told local website Pear Video. The couple wasn’t named, but the man posted on China’s version of TikTok under the name “Wuhan Cat Strong.”
Lele the Wuhan cat is going viral on Chinese social media. The pregnant cat was left alone for 40 days while her owners were quarantined for corona. They came back to find Lele alive and well and their house full with 4 more kittens. Their fish tank, however, was empty. pic.twitter.com/4FK33kH9Xg
— Manya Koetse (@manyapan) March 29, 2020
There was still some cat food left on the floor, but Lele had clearly had a hankering for something a little more fresh. The fish tank in the apartment had been cleared of its inhabitants.
The tale lit up China’s Internet, with commenters on Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter, noting the fishes’ sacrifice.
“The fish didn’t get coronavirus but still died because of it,” said one person using the screen name of Mr. Lemon. Another said this was a welcome tale of survival — by the cats, if not the fish: “Compared with these reports of deaths, this is touching.”