Feral cats are a huge concern across the globe. For starters, they can have many litters of kittens that can start having their own kittens before their first year!
While humans cause much more of a negative impact on local wildlife than feral cats do, it can still be a concern.
Not to mention, many of these feral cats are actually the victims of being dumped, or abandoned by previous owners.
These cats are generally quite sweet and much less equipped to survive alone in wild conditions.
One woman in Cocoa, Florida has started to make a difference in the lives of the countless feral cats who call her neighborhood and family business area home!
Anne Chapman, a woman I call mom, started out feeding a few cats that showed up at her house. Then she started to notice there were cats at the family business too!
She started to feed those as well in the hopes of catching them and finding forever homes for them. Then more showed up, and more, and more, even a mother with young kittens came!
That’s when she knew there was a real issue in her area and that it went beyond the few she started out feeding.
After talking with wonderful people at the Brevard Humane Society, a place she enjoys volunteering at as a dog walker, she found out that there was a program called Trap, Neuter, and Release Program that allowed people to bring in feral cats to be spayed, or neutered. So, with that knowledge and a few loaner traps she picked up from the Brevard Humane Society, she joined a family of incredibly kind, generous people who were already a part of that program.
She started trapping feral cats and getting them spayed, or neutered, vaccinated, their ear clipped (identifies them as already altered), and an over health exam. They are also tested for Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), upon request.
After their day at the clinic, they are released back where they were caught, unless they are friendly. The friendly ones find a forever home!
Several hit the mega-ball jackpot and live with her!
To date, she has trapped over 30 cats/kittens and found homes for nearly half of them. I am so proud of my mom, and the other people who are out there making a real difference in the lives of others, be they furry, feathered, scaly, or of the human type!
Every Wednesday night at around 6PM our wonderful volunteers come in and make enrichment for the cats. Sometimes we do live events, where we will answer your questions, or let you make suggestions to them on what to make for the cats, but most of the time it is just a one way window. We use Facebook for the two way interaction, when there is someone who can manage it.
On May 3 the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay will hold its third annual Give Day contest where nonprofits compete to see who can have the most donors and donations that day. There are also prizes for the most donations in a particular hour of the day.
Thanks to so many of our supporters who participated, last year Big Cat Rescue won $30,000, more than any other nonprofit! Of that $30,000, $10,000 was a prize for the most donations to an animal nonprofit sponsored by Caspers Company pictured here presenting their check.
Helping us win this prize money to support the cats is a great way to leverage your donation dollar.
On May 3 donations are accepted online by credit card for the contest. The minimum donation is $25.
If you prefer to donate by check, the check is still made out to Big Cat Rescue but must be dated May 3 and have “Give Day” in the memo section. We need to submit it the day before Give Day, i.e. on Monday, May 2, so need to have it in hand, or at least a scanned copy of it, by that day. If you mail checks, please send them to:
Big Cat Rescue
12802 Easy Street
Tampa, FL 33625-3702
If you are contemplating a donation this year, Give Day is a great time to do it.
Who took a car to the face and lived to tell about it!
Update April 28, 2016
On Sunday Thor will be returned to his rightful place in the wild. Be sure that you are a fan of ours on Facebook.com/BigCatRescue and that you have your settings to include us first in the posts you see, so that you don’t miss the LIVE broadcast of his release. Meanwhile, you can read Thor’s miraculous story here: http://BigCatRescue.org/Thor and you can help fund bobcat rescue, rehab and release by purchasing Thor themed tees, totes, mugs, pillows, hoodies, phone cases and more here:
This morning, at 1:15 AM Jamie and Carole responded to a call in Brandon about a bobcat being hit by a car. Dr Justin Boorstein came in and they did Xrays to see what could be done.
Jamie recalls the event:
I got a call at 1:15 AM and it’s a man saying that his wife has found an injured bobcat in the middle of the highway in Brandon. Most people have no idea what a bobcat looks like, so I ask him to have his wife text me a photo. Dang! It’s a bobcat! Now I’m awake.
I call my mom to ask if she has a net and carrier at her house next door, so that I can save time getting to the scene, but she doesn’t. She gets out of bed and says she’ll go with me. As I hop into her truck she says, “Do you have a coat?” It’s in the 50’s, which is freezing to us Floridians, and I say, “I’m in my pajamas! No, I didn’t bring a coat!” Turns out she’s barely dressed and forgot hers too. Thankfully there are blankets in the truck.
The good news about early morning bobcat calls is that there is no one on the streets so we get to the sanctuary (4 miles away) in record time and exchange her pickup truck for the Tundra with a topper that we won in a Facebook contest a few years ago. (Thank you everyone who voted for us!) We had just released Rain and Dancer the 9 month old rehab bobcats the day before, so there are still nets and gloves in the back. We grab a big carrier out of the Emergency Response Center and are on our way.
Meanwhile the Good Samaritan who had called in the accident is frantic because the police have shown up on the scene and told her she can’t stay in the middle of the highway. She puts the officer in charge, in touch with me by phone and he’s saying he doesn’t think the bobcat is going to make it and maybe should be put out of his misery. I tell him that a bobcat in shock can look quite dead, but can regain consciousness very quickly and that they have an amazing ability to heal. I don’t want him to shoot the cat in the head, so I tell him that my husband is a veterinarian and standing by to humanely euthanize him, if that is what has to be done. He asks how long before we will be there, and by now we are about 20 minutes away.
More calls and texts back and forth and the woman who originally called us seems sure the police sent her away so they could dispose of the cat. We are driving as fast as we can, but it’s a long way from Citrus Park to the Brandon mall and we aren’t allowed to use flashing lights and sirens in order to save wildlife. Maybe we need a law that would allow rehabbers the same use as ambulance drivers.
The policeman contact me again and he sounds like he’s ready to call it quits because the bobcat looks so bad. He says that he doesn’t think the cat is going to make it, and that he’s bleeding from the nose and his eyes look bad, and even thinks he can be picked up by hand. By now we are 5 minutes out and ask him to wait. He agrees.
Carole recalls what happened next:
As WAZE is telling us that we are arriving at the location, I see the flashing lights of a patrol car and start to pull up behind it, but then notice there are patrol cars, lights flashing, at every corner of the huge intersection. My first concern is which one should I pull up next to, in order to have our tools closest to the cat, but then my heart leaps with joy to realize that the agency has cordoned off the entire road to insure that no one runs over the bobcat who is crouched in the middle of the road. I’ve never seen the police be so concerned about an injured animal before and it makes me grateful beyond belief.
In the center of all the chaos, I can see him and he looks HUGE. He’s in pain, so he’s all puffed up, but the lights from angle, highlight a halo in his fur tips that make him seem enormous. I wonder to myself if I brought a big enough carrier. Jamie and the officer she had been speaking with grab the nets and I grab the carrier out of the back of the Tundra and head toward the bobcat. As we approach Jamie asks how close the officer has been to the cat so she can assess his fight or flight distance. The officer says he’s been right up on him, but that the cat seems to be recovering. He suggests that perhaps, “His bell has been un-rung” meaning that he thinks the bobcat might be coming to his senses, and may be more likely to bolt.
Artfully Jamie breaks away from the cat’s view of me with a carrier and the police man with a net coming at his face, and sneaks around behind the bobcat. Sure enough, when we are about 10 feet out the bobcat decides that he isn’t going to be taken alive and he uses the last of what he has in him to leap to our left. Jamie comes in like a Ninja with one downward sweep of the net over him as he leaps!
It is a righteous netting (as we call it around Big Cat Rescue) because not only is the net over the cat, but the forward movement of his leap against the netting has landed him over the outside ring of the net’s neck. It is that configuration that allows us to lift a bobcat securely, because they can just hop right out of a net if it doesn’t fold over the edge. My heart swelled with pride that Jamie had shown such proficiency under such pressure. The officer showed some pretty amazing skill as he leapt right into the fray and put his net down over the top of Jamie’s. That little bit of extra security can make the difference between keeping a bobcat in a net and having them break free.
I put the carrier in front of Jamie’s net and ask the officer to trade spots with me. Jamie and I have moved countless cats from nets into carriers over the years and it isn’t easy. One wrong move and the cat is free. In cases like this, where the cats legs were not injured, he could definitely outrun us and get lost in the underbrush before we would be able to catch up. His facial injuries would then cause him to die a long and painful death. We couldn’t risk it.
The officer (rather expertly, I might add) put one foot behind the carrier to brace it. Sometimes an animal goes in so fast that they are able to push the carrier away from the nets and then can turn on a dime to escape through the crack. Jamie lined her net up to the open door and I used mine to push his tail end through the opening. The officer or Jamie, slammed the door shut, while retrieving the netting, but it happened so fast, I’m not sure whose hands were where, but the bobcat was safely secured.
We shouted our thanks out to the officers who were guarding the intersection and gave the officer in charge our brochure to share in case they get more bobcat injury calls. Jamie called her husband, Dr. Justin Boorstein and told him we were successful and on our way to the Windsong Memorial Hospital. He met us there around 2:45 am.
Emergency Diagnostics at the Windsong Memorial Hospital
X-rays showed that all of the damage is to his face. His jaw is fractured both top and bottom and will require very delicate surgery and lots of cage rest. His eye socket is crushed around his left eye and the impact and broken bones are putting pressure on his brain and his eye, which is unresponsive. One canine was broken off, but the other three are in good shape. His breathing sounds horrible but we think it is because of the damage to the nasal cavity and the swelling. It looked like there could be some tearing to the trachea, but no way to tell with just X-ray. We really need a sonogram machine.
Thor is in critical shape, but we don’t have all of the extensive bone plates, screws and drill necessary to fix his shattered jaw, so it will be later today before he can be sedated again at another hospital that is better equipped for car strike type injuries.
Since it is now 4:20 am, the vet wants to wait until tomorrow afternoon to sedate him again, as doing so too soon could kill him.
We will post updates as we get them below.
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Thor was fed chopped meats during the time that his jaw was healing, but it’s done healing now and he isn’t wanting to kill or eat rats. We found the beak of a bird in his cage, so we presumed that one had managed to get in and get caught by Thor, so we tried him with quail. Ms Claws caught her quail very quickly, but it took Thor longer than we would have liked. We will be counting on our explore.org viewers, who provided these lovely photos, to let us know how his hunting goes.
He may just need more time to rebuild the muscle mass he’s lost while on cage rest for his broken shoulder blade.
Thor ate 17 ounces of food for breakfast. He’s taking his meds (with a lot of insistence by Jamie) and grooming, but still doesn’t seem to have figured out the water issue. We are still working on ideas. Maybe pond water?
Update Feb 11, 2016
Thor ate 15 ounces of food off a plate, without having to be fed on a stick, but he’s still not drinking. We bought him one of those $100 water fountains, and he’s figured out it is water, because he’s using it as a self flushing toilet. Cats pee in streams and ponds so that others don’t know they are in the area. Now we just have to figure out how to get him to drink out of it, AND elevate it so he can’t pee in it.
Update Feb 10, 2016
Jamie Relays Thor’s Rescue Story to Ops Mgr Gale
Update Feb 6, 2016 Thor Reaches Out
The Eye Drops Seem To Be Working
Update Feb 6, 2016 Thor Lives!
The day after Thor’s surgery to repair his jaw I woke up and raced to my computer to see if he had survived the night on our Arlo cams. Jamie and Gale help me monitor those live webcams, but they don’t offer a public link, like the explore.org/bigcatrescue live webcams do.
Update Feb 5, 2016 4PM
Thor the bobcat is back from the Humane Society of Tampa Bay where Dr. Justin Boorstein repaired his jaw. We are waiting on deciding if the non working eye and broken canine should be removed. We will consult with experts on both to see if either can be saved.
Thor is recovering in the West Boensch Cat Hospital on site and will soon be moved outside.
Thor’s care instructions to the Bobcat Rehab Team
Thor had surgery to repair his lower broken jaw. The break in his upper jaw was not misaligned, and so it will be left to heal on its own. This means that we need to be very careful about spooking him. We do not want him banging up his face when it is in this fragile state. He gets scared very easy, so walk slowly around him and be very quiet.
We are consulting with Dr. Miller with regards to how we can try to save his left eye. He is currently not blinking, and so we may need to try eye drops until the swelling goes down and he is able to blink. Justin and I will try this tomorrow and see how it goes.
For now he is not on any meds, we wanted to see if he would eat tonight before starting them. I will feed and clean him in the morning tomorrow. After that I will update you all on what medications he will need to be on.
We want to keep his meals small the first few days or so. He can only have soft food, so we are going to feed him a tennis ball of mush in the AM and another in the PM.
On Monday, October 5, 2015, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office took possession of 5 tigers from Mike Stapleton, owner of Paws & Claws Animal Sanctuary near Columbus.
Stapleton has been battling state officials to keep his tigers ever since Ohio legislators enacted an exotic animal law that went into effect almost two years ago. Authorities arrived prepared to seize Stapleton’s cats after he had vowed to never give up his cats, but in the end Stapleton peacefully surrendered his cats. All 5 cats will be placed in approved sanctuaries outside of Ohio.
When we learned that Teisha – a 13-year-old tiger, in such bad shape that she was unable to walk, and didn’t move even during the chaos and darting when authorities took possession of her two weeks ago – we immediately offered to bring Teisha to Big Cat Rescue where we can provide her with the best possible medical and dental care and nutrition.
It is our understanding that Stapleton told people on the scene Teisha had been injured by the other tigers in the cage, who constantly picked on her. It’s doubtful that a vet ever examined Teisha before ODA rescued her. The ODA vets treated her for deep puncture wounds, and heavy parasite loads upon arrival.
Four Big Cat Rescuers left Tampa on Wednesday, October 21, for the 15-hour drive up to Ohio with our transport carrier. They drove straight through and met with Ohio authorities this morning and took possession of Teisha. They are now en route back to Tampa with their precious cargo.
Until we get Teisha to Big Cat Rescue on Friday, and our vets can examine her at our Windsong Memorial Hospital, we are not sure what her exact condition is and how serious her injuries are.
We do know that for the first week after she was rescued by ODA, she did not stand and just peed and defecated while laying down. The ODA vets put her on pain medication and she has begun getting up and walking a little bit. It’s heartbreaking to speculate how long Teisha has been in pain but not receiving any medication while owned by Stapleton.
ODA also told us Teisha may have some bad teeth, which is sadly very common for cats who are pulled from their mothers at birth to be used as photo props and fed an improper diet. When big cats lack calcium, they pull it from their bones before pulling it from their own teeth. This is nature’s way as tigers would not be able to survive if they can’t chew. So that means tigers like Teisha who have bad teeth also suffer from very fragile bones. This may be why she can’t walk.
We will post updates about Teisha and her prognosis as we can. It is only because of our amazing donors like YOU that Big Cat Rescue can save these cats! THANK YOU for your continuing support of our work and our sanctuary!
There’s just something about Teisha. I fell in love with her at first glance and she’s had a similar effect on just about everyone she has met. You see in her such a playful peaceful spirit, despite having been treated so badly by humans and her own kind. Cats hate diets as much as people do; maybe more, because eating is the highlight in their day. It’s been especially hard to restrict her food, and bring her down to a weight that her pinched spine can support, because she looks at you with those enormous golden eyes, that plead, “Just one more, please?”
Most places feed fat scraps to their cats because they can get it for free, but the result is cats that are morbidly obese, like Teisha and her cage mates all were. Even without the spinal injuries, it would have been very hard for her bones and back to carry so much weight, so she had to lose some weight. From Oct till April she’s gone from looking like a beached whale (361 lbs) to looking like a fit tiger (326 lbs), but her ability to get around has only improved slightly. Even with those improvements she has bad days where all she can do is drag her back end. Since her arrival our vets have been in consultation with specialists from all over trying to find someone who could do the delicate spinal surgery if an MRI shows that could improve her condition.
Thanks to wonderful donors we were able to do the X-rays on site, in our own Windsong Memorial Hospital, and we see a narrowing of the spine that could be the culprit. It’s just impossible to tell if that would be operable without an MRI, so this morning, after weeks of arrangements were finalized, Teisha Tiger is on her way to the University of Florida’s state of the art, large animal veterinary hospital. Because the MRI takes so long, and keeping a big cat sedated is such a dangerous proposition for the cat, they will probably do the MRI today and then, if they think she is operable, will do the operation tomorrow. Our President, Jamie Veronica, and her husband and vet, Dr. Justin Boorstein will stay with her in Gainesville.
Teisha’s prognosis is not good. I tearfully said “goodbye” to her as we shut the trailer doors, because I don’t expect to see her again. Everything about this is hard for her. The trip is long and miserable, even though she has A/C, C02 monitors and CCTV. Sedation is extremely dangerous in big cats and that alone can kill them. Our vets know what they are doing, but UF probably will insist that only their vets be in charge, and they probably don’t treat as many tigers as our vets do. Spinal surgery, if that is the option they choose, has all of its own risks, that are further complicated by the sedation for such a long, tedious process. Then there is that long ride home, after just having had surgery. It’s all a rotten hand that Teisha has been dealt, but if we can give her a good quality of life in the end, it will be worth it. And it will be worth the $6,000 that UF said it might cost us.
Donating to our general food fund helps us cover the daily costs of caring for so many big cats so that we can afford to give Teisha the medical care that could save her life.
Video Update on Teisha 10 25 15
WHY Change Name from Keisha to Teisha?
We always try to keep a cat’s name, but at Big Cat Rescue we have protocols that demand every Keeper post observations to a database that shares the info with the CEO, President, Ops Mgr, maintenance crew and the Vets if it is a medical related post. Each cat has to have a unique name in the database.
We have had cats with the same name before, like Cleo Cougar, Cleo Serval and Cleo Bobcat, but we already had a Keisha Tiger. Calling the new cat Teisha Tiger makes sure that her observations records are unique to her and sounds similar enough to her that we hope she will just pass it off as a regional accent.
Cats are masters at hiding symptoms when they are ill. Daily observations are crucially important to managing health. That observations database is vital part of the daily care so a unique name is a must.
Teisha is an Arabic name that means Alive and Well, which is our goal for her.
October 25, 2015 Teisha got her first perfume tube and she certainly enjoyed sinking her claws and teeth into it.
UPDATE: When we first saw how crippled she was, we thought we would have to sedate her, yet again, to do Xrays and maybe an MRI, but on the same pain management drugs that our other arthritic cats are on, she’s doing great, so we will just watch her closely and see how she does as she loses all of that excess weight.
Early November 2015 – Teisha’s 1st Pumpkin at Big Cat Rescue.
November 8, 2015 – Teisha Tiger is settling in nicely. She is beginning to look forward to her enrichment goodies and is learning which keepers clean and which keepers bring treats and what time breakfast is etc.
November 12th, 2015 – Teisha mastered getting in and out of her pool yesterday. Today, she has been in and out a few times. HAPPY TIGER
Every year we pull from the hat one of our supporters who has signed up for the Animal Lover’s Dream Vacation. This year’s winner was Mia Voss and she’s bringing her friend Courtney Smith Kramer, since the vacation is for two people. This could turn out to be as big a deal for our cats as it is for the winners, as they have a huge audience who will be following their adventures here. Watch for a lot of Snap Chatting, Live Facebook Feeds, Twitter posts and more while they are here.
Mia Voss and Courtney Smith Kramer road trip around the U.S. using social media to amplify the positive stories of small businesses doing great work. And they are taking their show on the road to Big Cat Rescue on May 19 & 20 – follow the adventures at https://www.facebook.com/ DrivenTheShow/?fref=ts
of MiaOnTheGo.com – Travel blogger, entrepreneur, brand ambassador, online interviewer and the ultimate people connector. Her engaging & energized style of engagement showcases businesses and allows them to create more leverage with online video content. Mia has been the producer, host and guest on more than 300 episodes of shows and has interviewed more than 500 guests in the past 2 years.
is the co-founder and Executive Creative Director of PureMatter, a top content, social media and digital agency based in Silicon Valley. She is an accomplished creative strategist, storyteller, writer and designer, and soon-to-be-author, launching her first book “The 21 Reasons Why Creativity is Like Sex” in the Fall of 2016.