A one-year-old boy has been found living rough on the streets, apparently being kept alive by cats.
By Chris Hastings
Last Updated: 8:47AM GMT 20 Dec 2008
The boy, whose ordeal mirrors that of the character Mowgli from Rudyard Kipling The Jungle Book, was discovered by police in Misiones, in Argentina, surrounded by eight wild cats.
Doctors believe the animals snuggled up with him during freezing nights which would otherwise have killed him.
The boy was seen eating scraps foraged by the animals while they licked him, it has been claimed.
Policewoman Alicia Lorena Lindgvist discovered the child by a canal in the Christ King district of the city.
She said: "I was walking and noticed a gang of cats sitting very close together. It is unusual to see so many like that so I went for a closer look and that's where I saw him. The boy was lying at the bottom of a gutter. There were all these cats on top of him licking him because he was really dirty.
"When I walked over they became really protective and spat at me. They were keeping the boy warm while he slept."
The officer, who noticed scraps of food near the boy, added: "The cats knew he was fragile and needed protecting."
Police have found the boy's father who is homeless and said he had lost the boy several days ago while out collecting cardboard to sell. He told officers cats had always been protective of his son.
A spokesman for Thames Valley Animal Welfare, which deals with feral cats and strays in Berkshire, said: "They would have viewed the baby like a big hot water bottle. Cats will cuddle up to anything to keep warm, even dogs.
He added: "In our experience of cat colonies when a mother has a litter, all the other cats will go and fetch food. The baby could have been feeding off the scraps they brought. Cats in Argentina stay in large packs to survive - much more than cats over here."
In the Jungle Book, Mowgli is raised in the Indian Jungle by wolves.