Chita (Russia): The Russian girl who was ‘raised’ by dogs and cats amid squalor in the east Siberian city of Chita could soon adapt to a normal life, say doctors. Five-year-old girl, nicknamed Mowgli by Russian media after the fictitious character from the Rudyard Kipling book, has not learned to speak, and makes only animal-like noises, despite sharing the three-room flat with her father and other relatives.

The child, who was found by police “unwashed, in dirty clothes, and with the obvious habits of a domestic animal”, is at the physical development stage of a two or three year old and is being treated in a rehabilitation centre. “The girl will be able to adapt and will quickly catch up with her mates in development”, says psychiatrist Mikhail Vinogradov, adding that Russia had previous experience in dealing with such children.

The psychiatrist says that the child, who has never been outside her flat, has first to go through a period of adaptation with children of the same development stage. The report said the family was living in squalor, and that “the water, heating, gas, and sanitation had long ago been switched off”.

Despite being isolated from society, the girl found no difficulty playing with other children at the centre. Specialist medical staff, who are currently studying the child, said that “she looks like she’ll be healthy”. The girl’s mother called in at a police station when she realised her daughter had been taken. The father, who was not in the flat when the police discovered the girl, was detained on Wednesday.

A criminal case has been opened against family members, but the maximum prison term is three years. Authorities are deciding whether they should lose their paternal rights. The father, however, said he considered the family’s living conditions as normal and demanded that the child be returned home. He added that the girl’s mother was an alcoholic who neglected the child.