1999 Jacksonville, FL: A cougar bit a 19 month old child at the Catty Shack Ranch.
December 4, 1999 Williamsville, MO: A 5-year-old boy required surgery after he was mauled by a “pet” lion kept chained in a neighbor’s yard. The animal inflicted puncture wounds to the boy’s throat and head. The lion was killed.
November 18, 1999 China: Four tigers mauled to death a driver at a safari park after he exited his bus to make a repair. Previous attacks at the 4-year-old park had been reported.
October 30, 1999 Buffalo, NY: A keeper at the Buffalo Zoo was bit and clawed by a leopard.
October 25, 1999 Great Plains, SD: A 4-year-old girl was injured after she was clawed by an African lynx at the Great Plains Zoo. The girl and her parents had wandered into a staff area of the zoo.
October 21, 1999 Evansville, IN: A zookeeper at the Mesker Park Zoo was mauled by a lion who severely injured his leg and arm.
August 3, 1999 Alor Star, Malaysia: A lion with a circus slashed and deeply cut a handler’s hand as he escaped from his cage. The lion was recaptured three hours later.
June 26, 1999 Sterling, KS: A woman with a group of Boy Scouts visiting Safari Zoological Park was attacked by a caged tiger when she put her hand on the cage. She lost her arm and later died.
June 7, 1999 Yorktown, TX: A 9-year-old girl was killed when her stepfather’s “pet” tiger grabbed her by the neck and dragged her into a water trough.
May 4, 1999 Spain: Tigers mauled to death an elderly German couple visiting a game park in Spain. After getting out of their car, three tigers attacked them both, causing fatal neck wounds.
April 10, 1999 Pearland, TX: A tiger handler had to be airlifted to the hospital after being attacked by a tiger at a defunct roadside zoo. The tiger was killed.
March 31, 1999 Tyler, TX: A woman’s arm was nearly severed by a tiger at a compound. A volunteer at the facility, she reached in to pet the tiger, when he attacked. Doctors were unsure whether they would be able to save her arm.
March 16, 1999 Colorado Springs, CO: A 6-year-old boy was severely injured by a leopard at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo after he climbed over a rope to get a closer look at the animal. Three months earlier, a woman was scratched by a tiger at the zoo after sticking her hand into his cage.
February 28, 1999 Fort Wayne, IN: A tiger mauled an employee of the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo while she was cleaning the cage, causing injuries to her chest, neck and back.
January 21, 1999 Bangkok, Thailand: Four tigers attacked and killed their keeper at a private zoo. The zoo is attached to a restaurant and the animals are used to attract customers.
January 7, 1999 Wichita, KS: A 5-month-old tiger cub bit the throat of a 5-year-old child. The tiger belonged to Safari Zoological Park, a roadside zoo that hauls animals around to schools, festivals, and store promotions. The tiger was killed the next day.
January 1, 1999 Jackson Township, NJ: Police shot and killed a 431 pound tiger who escaped from the Tigers Only Preservation Society, only a few hundred yards from a subdivision.
1998 Harris County, TX: A 4-year-old girl was mauled by a Bridgeport Nature Center tiger during photo ops at a county fair. The girl required stitches and $17,000 in plastic surgery to her leg. The girl’s family filed a lawsuit against Bridgeport.
December 23, 1998 Coral Gables, FL: A five year old girl suffered a nine inch gash to her skull when a handler with the cougar at a child’s birthday party was unable to restrain the cat from attacking. The cat was killed to be tested by the Center for Disease Control.
December 9, 1998 South Africa: A 2-year-old boy was severely injured when a lion at a zoo reached under the gate of his cage and bit the boy’s hip and dragged him under the gate.
December 7, 1998 Doué-la-Fountaine, France: A 4-year-old boy was fatally mauled, and his father severely injured, by 2 jaguars who had escaped from their cage at the Doué-la-Fountaine Zoo south of Paris, France. Police killed both of the 200-pound female jaguars.
December 7, 1998 Ukraine: A lioness attacked and badly injured a worker at a Ukrainian zoo after she entered her cage thinking it was empty.
November 21, 1998 Chicago, IL: A Ringling Bros. circus employee was seriously mauled by a tiger used in the circus when three tigers escaped from their cage in a Chicago parking lot. The tiger clawed the handler on his neck and side. This was the second attack by tigers used by Ringling in one year. (see 1/7/98).
November 18, 1998 Kaufman, TX: A Texas man was attacked by his “pet” lion and suffered serious injuries. The adult female lion jumped him from behind.
November 15, 1998 Chatham County, NC: A cougar mauled a volunteer with Carnivore Preservation Trust causing numerous bites and deep scratches.
November 13, 1998 Newberry, FL: The same tiger who killed his trainer on 10/8/98 attacked and killed his owner. The tiger was shot dead. The tiger’s other owner, Ron Guay AKA Ron Holiday, now trains students in tiger handling at Amazing Exotics for Yvonne Finser in Umatilla, FL.
November 8, 1998 Cut and Shoot, TX: Two “pet” tigers escaped their backyard cage and attacked a dog and a pig before being shot dead by police after charging pursuers. In 1997, a “pet” cougar kept by the same man escaped and was never re-captured.
October 8, 1998 Newberry, FL: A tiger attacked and killed his trainer, Joy Holiday AKA Joy Guay, at the Holiday’s Cat Dancer facility. The tiger had been used in the operation’s traveling animal show and featured in Shrine circuses. The tiger grabbed the trainer by the throat. The tiger’s other owner, Ron Guay AKA Ron Holiday, now trains students in tiger handling at Amazing Exotics for Yvonne Finser in Umatilla, FL.
September 2, 1998 Citrus Park, FL: Black leopard bites volunteer attempting to pet animal through cage at Wildlife on Easy Street. Wounds to arm required 451 stitches to close. The volunteer admitted she was breaking the rules and was not allowed to return to the property.
August 29, 1998 Myakka City, FL: A tiger bit the hand of a 14-year-old volunteer with Tiger Claw Productions. The bite stripped flesh and tendons from her hand and required two surgeries to repair.
July 31, 1998 Vallejo, CA: A 300-pound Bengal tiger named Kuma turned on Jaunell Waldo when she posed for a photo op with the tiger at Marine World. “He bit through my head, damaged my vertebra and my ear canal,” recalls Waldo, “The bottom third of my face was on my chest. They had to sew all of that back.” She says trainers told her they’d done more than 100 sessions with members of the public. For $250, visitors were taken to a backstage area. “But it’s a cat, and when they play, they play to kill. I closed down my chin to protect my neck, and that’s why he got my face” said Juanell. Trainer Chad Zierenberg forced his way between Waldo and the tiger and was clawed on the back. The trainers were unable to get Kuma to respond to commands until someone rushed in and sprayed a fire extinguisher. In January 1996, Zierenberg was slightly injured when two cougars
that he and another trainer were exercising attacked. In November 1986, another Marine World tiger mauled a San Mateo High School football player during a noisy pep rally at the school. Read about the attack HERE
July 30, 1998 Minot, ND: A 5-year-old boy suffered facial cuts requiring plastic surgery after being attacked by a tiger at a photo booth run by Bridgeport Nature Park at the state fair.
July 13, 1998 Brisbane, Australia: During a show in front of 200 spectators, a tiger attacked his handler, picked him up, and carried him 15 feet.
May 2, 1998 Wylie, TX: A “pet” cougar bit a 4-year-old boy on the leg. The boy required $5,800 in medical care.
May 1, 1998 Witchita, KS: A tiger scratched or bit an adult while the animal was appearing at a store’s promotional event.
April 7, 1998 Charlotte, NC: Two lions at the Charlotte Metro Zoo attacked a keeper, one biting him on the leg while the other took the man’s head in his mouth. The keeper suffered deep puncture wounds to his head and leg. He had to be airlifted to a trauma center.
April 1, 1998 AR: A tiger attacked a worker at a breeding compound, biting him on the neck.
February 10, 1998 Lincolnton, NC: A leopard nearly killed his trainer after attacking her at a Royal Palace Circus performance in North Carolina. The trainer suffered injuries requiring reconstructive surgery and hospitalization for a week.
February 8, 1998 Belfast, Ireland: A tiger escaped from his cage at the Belfast Zoo and attacked a keeper before being shot to death by police. The keeper was treated at a hospital for injuries to both legs and a hand.
January 7, 1998 St. Petersburg, FL: A trainer with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus suffered severe head wounds after a tiger grabbed him by the head and dragged him around the ring. He was hospitalized in critical condition and required extensive surgery. The trainer’s brother shot the tiger five times after the animal had been returned to his cage, killing him.
December 25, 1997 Tampa, FL: The St. Petersburg Times reported that a man who was bitten on the arm by a cougar in 1996 was suing WildLife on Easy Street. The suit was dropped when the man’s friend, the pet owner of the cougar, was depositioned. Both were former volunteers, and were suspected in the release of the cougar from WildLife on Easy Street in August of 1996 as he was trying to make a case that the cat he was accusing of the bite was dangerous. Both volunteers were dismissed from the program and the cougar was recaptured without incident.
November 7, 1997 Shubra al-Khaima, Egypt: Three starving lions belonging to a traveling circus mauled to death a teenage boy who had been hired 10 days earlier to clean cages. The lions had been left in a cage without
food for several days near a bus station in a densely populated neighborhood outside Cairo.
October 22, 1997 Calabasas, CA: The same jaguar who attacked a trainer on 10/16/97 attacked another trainer who suffered bite wounds on his leg and a cut to his hand on a movie set.
October 16, 1997 Calabasas, CA: A trainer on a movie set in California underwent surgery to repair a broken leg after being attacked by a jaguar. She was expected to remain hospitalized in fair condition for several days.
September 1997 Port Perry, Ontario, Canada: A 6-year-old girl was attacked and left permanently scarred by a jaguar at the Northwood Buffalo and Exotic Animal Ranch. The girl put her arm through the wire mesh of
the cage, and the cat grasped her with his paws and mouth. The girl’s family was awarded more than $31,500 in a lawsuit.
August 17, 1997 Marshfield, MA: A 13-year-old girl was rushed to the emergency room after being bitten by a tiger during a photo session in Massachusetts. The girl had to undergo painful rabies treatment. The Marshfield Mass. Animal Control Department reported “several” other bites associated with this photo booth.
August 3, 1997 Tokyo, Japan: A Japanese couple was mauled to death by a tiger at a safari park near Tokyo.
June 7, 1997 Scappoose, OR: A woman suffered deep puncture wounds to the neck and post-traumatic stress disorder when she was attacked by a neighbor’s “pet” leopard.
May 19, 1997 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: A 4-year-old boy was killed after a lion who was being taken for a stroll broke loose and mauled him.
May 13, 1997 Strassburg, Germany: During a circus performance a tiger attacked a circus worker and seriously hurt him while he was setting up cages.
May 8, 1997 Lubbock, TX: One of five “pet” tigers mauled his owner. The man was admitted to the hospital in critical condition. The owner’s son killed the tiger.
May 7, 1997 Carrollton, PA: A tiger used in the Franzen Bros. Circus killed a trainer in front of 200 horrified schoolchildren.
May 4, 1997 Knox County, TN: A tiger mauled a student at Joe Robinson’s roadside menagerie.
April 29, 1997 Oklahoma City, OK: A leopard escaped from his cage killed a woman at an exotic animal “sanctuary.” Sheriff’s deputies shot and killed the leopard seven hours later when he was found along a road nearly a half-mile from Oak Hill Center for Rare and Endangered Species.
April 27, 1997 San Antonio, TX: A man lost his finger and his friend was injured when they broke into an exotic animal orphanage and tried to pet a tiger.
April 4, 1997 Dallas, TX: A “pet” bobcat mauled a toddler. The 2-year-old boy lost his right index finger, had his heel chewed off, and suffered a severe bite wound to his right cheek.
March 19, 1997 Orlando, FL: A tiger escaped from a cage and mauled a keeper at exotic cat breeding compound. The keeper suffered a broken thigh, crushed knee and severed arteries and veins in his leg. Authorities later shot and killed the tiger because they feared the animal would jump a perimeter fence and flee the compound. (This was probably Dave McMillan’s Tiger’s Eye Productions or Robert Baudy’s Savage Kingdom)
March 18, 1997 San Antonio, TX: A tiger escaped from a wildlife animal refuge, killing an ostrich and pawing a sheriff’s deputy before being tranquilized and recaptured. A 300-pound tiger named Sheryl took a leisurely morning stroll after escaping from the Wild Animal Orphanage, authorities say. The tiger jumped a 10-foot fence to get away. She attacked and killed a duck and an ostrich before wounding a llama. Carol Asvestas said she believes the tiger got out after being provoked by an intruder who broke into the property by scaling a perimeter fence.
March 12, 1997 Caudwell, TX: A 13-year-old boy was attacked by a “pet” tiger and a lion kept in a cage built into the side of his grandfather’s house. The boy’s father said, “My boy was not mauled, he was being eaten alive.”
1997 TX: A lion kept in a cage as a backyard “pet” bit a visitor’s hand and tried to pull her into the cage. She had four deeply grooved cuts requiring 21 stitches. The owner claimed that in the past, when the lion “got out of control,” squirting him in the eyes with a spray bottle full of vinegar usually “calmed him down.”
1997 Kirbyville, TX: A tiger bit two fingers off the left hand of Monique Woodard, owner of the Exotic Cat Refuge and Wildlife Orphanage. Doctors were able to reattach one of the fingers.
December 21, 1996 Brooklyn Park, MN: Three pet-supply store workers were bitten or scratched by a 7-month-old tiger who had been brought to the store to have his picture taken. The three workers agreed to receive rabies shots.
December 15, 1996 Indonesia: A tourist was mauled to death by a chained tiger at a safari park while posing with the animal for a photograph.
December 6, 1996 Ababa, Ethiopia: A lion pushed open his cage door and killed his keeper at a roadside zoo.
October 9, 1996 Las Vegas, NV: A Las Vegas animal trainer had to undergo surgery on his feet and legs after being mauled by a tiger.
September 16, 1996 Crystal Beach, TX: A declawed “pet” lioness died after she was shot and tranquilized by a deputy. The lioness attacked a man after a burglarhad apparently set her free.
August 28, 1996 London, Ontario: A “pet” cougar mauled 2-year-old outside of London, Ontario.
July 18, 1996 Middletown, NY: A white tiger from Hawthorn Corporation bit the hand of a carnival worker while performing at the Orange County Fair.
May 6, 1996 Midlothian, TX: A 6-year-old girl suffered severe injuries to her head, neck, arms, back, and legs in an attack by a tiger, one of seven big cats on a breeding farm. During the investigation it was found that these same cats had been involved in three previous documented attacks. On this day, Katie Baxter’s mother, Tammi Baxter, decided to visit the tigers owned by a cousin’s friend. “Everybody knew about this place; everybody went out there all the time. ” she says. A ball was in the tigers’ water bowl, and as Baxter and her children watched, one of the animal handlers went into the pen to retrieve it. “He closed all the gates behind him, but somehow when he got to the last one to get the ball out of the water thing, this one tiger went nuts. [The tiger] hit one of the gates, kind of like stood up and hit the door,” Baxter says. “He went through two other gates the same way and was out in the viewing area before we even knew what happened. “I got to Katie, but by the time I got to her, he was already attacking her. It was horrible.” The tiger knocked Baxter and Katie down but “went for Katie,” grabbing her by the neck. Then it started dragging her. “We were trying to beat the tiger, beat it with our hands, but that wasn’t stopping it. So my cousin, he got a metal pipe and knocked it in the head so we could get her away from the tiger,” Baxter says. There were no telephones, so Baxter put Katie and her son into their car and raced toward a nearby hospital. Baxter missed a turn and crashed into a ditch. Katie, who was bleeding from the neck, was taken to one hospital by helicopter ambulance. Baxter and her son were taken to another with injuries from the car wreck. Katie spent more than a month in the hospital and underwent cosmetic surgery.
February 10, 1996 Pahang, Malaysia: An employee of the London Royal Circus suffered serious injuries to her thigh and calf after a lioness attacked her while she was cleaning her cage.
January 5, 1996 Vallejo, CA: One trainer, Chad Zierenberg, at Marine World Africa was seriously hurt and another received minor injuries when they were attacked by two cougars as they prepared to take the cougars for a
January 3, 1996 Calcutta, India: A tiger killed one man and mauled another at the Calcutta Zoo when they attempted to put a garland around his neck.
December 27, 1995 Quinlan, TX: A 3-year-old toddler was mauled by his family’s “pet” cougar. He had numerous head wounds sutured, reconstructive surgery to reattach one ear and neurosurgery to remove bone fragments from his brain. His 6-year-old sister was also attacked and received over thirty staples to head wounds, in the emergency room. The declawed cougar, whose teeth had been filed down as a preventative, was shot and killed. According to the children’s relative the cat was kept in a cage (without the added protection of a second secure cage around it) in front of their house. He had watched these children play, and get the attention he had once received, for several years. The relative asserts that the father believed he had complete control of this cat.
December 13, 1995 Beijing, China: A Chinese circus hand was killed by a tiger with whom he was “quite familiar.” The chained animal sprang at the man and sank his teeth into the man’s throat, causing fatal injuries.
December 1, 1995 Fort Worth, TX: A tiger at the Fort Worth Zoo leaped an 11-foot-wide moat and attacked a zookeeper. The keeper was bitten on the shoulder, arm, and hand and was off work for several weeks.
November 24, 1995 Raleigh, NC: A “pet” Bengal tiger mauled and critically injured a 3-year-old boy while his father was walking the animal on a leash. The tiger was shot and killed.
November 13, 1995 Memphis, TN: Two Sumatran tigers mauled a man who entered their enclosure at the Memphis Zoo.
November 2, 1995 Washington, DC: House Speaker Newt Gingrich was bitten on the chin by a baby cougar he was holding. The bite drew blood, but was not considered a serious injury.
October 29, 1995 Allegan, MI: While her 9-year-old daughter watched in horror, a woman was attacked and killed by a “pet” lion after she entered his cage at the home of a friend who collected exotic animals. The friend was severely injured when he tried to stop the attack.
September 30, 1995 Indianapolis, IN: A lion being used by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus bit off the index finger of a woman who put her hand in his cage kept in a staging area.
September 29, 1995 Piraeus, Greece: An American tourist was bitten and nearly lost her hand when she attempted to pet a tiger with an Italian circus.
September 27, 1995 Lava Hot Springs, ID: Nineteen lions at Ligertown Game Farm were shot and killed after escaping the complex.
September 19, 1995 Haysville, KS: A man shot and killed an African lion he found pacing on his driveway after the lion had escaped from a neighbor’s pen.
September 18, 1995 Wesley, KS: A 2-year-old boy required hospital treatment for a severe bite on his ear from the family’s 4-month-old cougar.
September 1995 Bloomington, IL: A man suffered a 3 inch gash to his hand when he attempted to pet a leopard at the Miller Park Zoo.
August 6, 1995 Phoenix, AZ: A mountain lion at the Phoenix Zoo gashed a 5-year old boy’s arm after he wandered too close to the cage. He required stitches to close the wound and received scratches on the side of his chest.
June 27, 1995 Downers Grove, IL: A 2-year old Chicago girl was mauled by her aunt’s “pet” Asian jungle cat.
June 2, 1995 Queens, NY: A 2-year-old boy was bitten by his neighbor’s pet cougar when he reached through a barred window to pet the animal. The 9-month-old cougar nearly severed one of the boy’s fingers, which was reattached at the hospital.
May 28, 1995 Novi, MI: Seven lions and tigers toppled onto a freeway when the trailer they were in came unhitched. One lion suffered a fractured skull and a tiger bolted across traffic, leading police on a four-hour chase.
March 5, 1995 Washington, DC: A woman was fatally mauled by lions after climbing into their enclosure at the National Zoo. The body was so battered and shredded so violently that her fingerprints were gone and her face unrecognizable.
January 2, 1995 Scottsbluff, NE: A zookeeper at the Riverside Zoo required surgery to repair her windpipe and injuries to her face and chest after she was attacked by a leopard.
December 20, 1994 East London, South Africa: Two tigers at the East London Zoo mauled a man who jumped into their enclosure. A tiger from this same group was the one killed after attacking a cameraman in
Angola (see 3/16/94).
November 13, 1994 London, England: A zookeeper was killed at a private zoo by a tiger while cleaning the cage. The private facility in London had a slew of deaths and maulings of both visitors and keepers.
October 11, 1994 San Diego, CA: San Diego Zoo animal trainer Joan Embery suffered two deep gashes on her face by a cheetah she was exhibiting on a television talk show.
September 5, 1994 Jasper, AL: A tiger escaped from the private menagerie of Earl and Debra Dobbins and was shot and killed by a neighbor. Another tiger on the Dobbins’ property was taken to the Birmingham Zoo.
September 3, 1994 New Delhi, India: A tiger jumped out of the ring during a circus performance and killed a 6 year-old boy in the audience. The boy’s father was also seriously injured.
August 8, 1994 Hyde Park, OH: A 180-pound pet African lion escaped from a home and ran loose in Hyde Park before being recaptured. The animal was later confiscated by authorities, and the owner was cited for possession of a dangerous animal and inducing panic.
July 24, 1994 Hanover, Canada: A 16-year-old boy was bitten on the neck and killed when he entered a cage with two declawed tigers at a roadside zoo.
July 15, 1994 Kuwait, Iraq: A lion killed his circus trainer by locking his jaws around the woman’s neck during a performance.
June 23, 1994 Brisbane, Australia: A 20 month-old boy had one arm bitten off, and the other badly mauled by a tiglon (a lion/tiger cross) at a circus. The boy’s father was an employee of the circus.
June 18, 1994 Columbia, SC: A tiger at an exotic animal farm mauled a 17-year-old worker.
June 7, 1994 Miami, FL: A senior zookeeper with 20 years’ experience was mauled and killed by a tiger at Miami Metrozoo.
April 5, 1994 Jackson, MS: An 80-pound cheetah scaled an 8-foot fence and pounced on an 8-year-old boy at the Jackson Zoo. The boy was scratched and nipped before the cheetah was recaptured.
March 22, 1994 Beech Grove, AR: A 150-pound declawed pet cougar escaped and attacked a 71-year-old year neighbor, inflicting deep bite wounds to the man’s shoulder and arm.
March 16, 1994 Angola: A tiger killed a South African news cameraperson while he was filming the evacuation of starving animals from a zoo in Angola. A witness reported that he “never stood a chance.” The tiger was killed.
January 25, 1994 Moscow, Russia: A lion with Bingo-Bongo Circus escaped from his cage. A policeman shot and killed the animal with a submachine gun.
January 3, 1994 Shanghai, China: After being forced to climb a ladder and jump through a hoop, a tiger in the Chinese circus grabbed his trainer puncturing two big holes in her neck.
January 3, 1994 Namibia, Africa: Lions at the Ekongoro zoo mauled to death a man who broke into the zoo at night.
December 12, 1993 Palm Beach, FL: A worker at the Lion Country Safari was attacked by a lion, causing severe puncture wounds to her head and chest, as well as collapsed lungs.
September 14, 1993 Joplin, MO: A circus employee lost part of her arm after an attack by a tiger on the circus’ animal farm. Doctors had to amputate her arm below the elbow.
August 11, 1993 Georgetown, OH: Two teenage boys suffered facial cuts when a lion attacked one, and the other attempted to intercede. The boys were walking when a “pet” lion escaped from his cage and attacked them unprovoked.
May 6, 1993 Las Vegas, NV: A keeper feeding a trio of lions in the backyard of a Las Vegas residence was hospitalized after one of the cats attacked her. The Circus Vargas employee suffered five gouges to her leg. During an April performance, another employee was bitten by a lion.
May 6, 1993 Bronx, NY: A man with a history of mental instability was mauled by two lions at the Bronx Zoo after he climbed into their cage.
April 17, 1993 Little Rock, AR: A tiger performing with the Shrine Circus at the Barton Coliseum escaped, ran into the audience, and bit a 13-year-old girl. The tiger was owned and trained by Jordan Circus.
February 21, 1993 Norfolk, VA: Graham Chipperfield, a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus big cat trainer, was mauled by a lion while breaking up a fight between two other lions.
February 3, 1993 Wichita, KS: A keeper was hospitalized in serious condition with wounds to his face and neck after being mauled by a Bengal tiger at Tanganyika Wildlife Company. The tiger lunged through the open door of a cage and attacked when the keeper bent down to pick up something. A second keeper attempted to beat the tiger away with a shovel and then shot and killed the tiger.
November 30, 1992 Pahrump, NV: A man was severely bitten by a tiger owned by animal trainer Alex Pasternak. The tiger had to be shot before he would release his grip.
September 27, 1992 Reno, NV: A Reno illusionist suffered “bone-deep” puncture wounds to his leg and arm by a tiger being used in a performance.
September 19, 1992 Tokyo, Japan: A lion escaped from a Bolshoi Circus cage in Tokyo and roamed loose for five hours before being gunned down with high-powered rifles.
July 26, 1992 Curitiba, Brazil: A tiger who escaped from a and terrorized residents was shot 20 times and killed by police.
June 10, 1992 St. Mary, Australia: A tiger bit a Robinson Circus worker after escaping from his cage and was shot and killed as he approached a busy shopping center.
May 21, 1992 Muhlenberg Township, PA: Two tigers with Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus escaped from an unlocked cage during a performance. One tiger roamed around the center ring, frightening 2,000 spectators before he was recaptured.
April 7, 1992 Iron Hill, DE: One of two cougars used by a private breeder jumped 12 feet and attacked a visitor, biting her on the head, neck, and upper back. The breeder said he would sell the two animals and replace them with cubs in order to continue his breeding and dealing operation.
April 5, 1992 Portland, OR: A “pet” lion/tiger hybrid attacked an 11-year-old girl who had to undergo surgery to repair extensive muscle damage in her arm. The animal would not let go and had to be shot and killed.
December 1, 1991 France: A tiger attacked a trainer during a performance of the Parade Circus. The trainer was treated for lacerations to his legs that required a one-month hospitalization. The same trainer’s father was similarly attacked by a cougar during a “wild animal” show twelve years previous to his son’s attack.
May 31, 1991 Mexico City, Mexico: A lion performing with Sur Americano circus leaped into the bleachers and pounced on a 7-year-old boy, biting his head and killing him. The lion was shot in the head and killed during the attack.
September 29, 1991 Jackson County, KS: A caged lion bit a man on the hand causing puncture wounds that required stitches after the man attempted to pet the lion at a Christmas tree farm.
September 17, 1991 Tucson, AZ: A lion cub bit the arm of a 3-year-old girl at the Reid Park Zoo.
August 17, 1991 Fresno, CA: A lion with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus bit a man who tried to pet the caged lion.
June 1, 1991 Anderson County, SC: A pet lion escaped from a backyard chain-link fenced enclosure and attacked a 5-year-old girl and her grandmother. The girl required stitches. The lion’s owner later shot and killed the lion.
May 13, 1991 Belgium: In front of horrified onlookers, an animal trainer for the Kessler Bros. Circus was slowly suffocated to death by a lion who put the trainer’s entire head in her mouth. The lion was shot and killed, but the trainer had already perished.
April 18, 1991 Wilkesboro, NC: A 3-year-old girl was attacked by a leopard traveling with the Great American Circus.
March 8, 1991 Grimsby, Britain: Four lions escaped during a Chipperfield circus performance and ran into a crowd of 100 parents with their children in Grimsby. One man was attacked and treated at a hospital.
February 23, 1991 Melbourne, Australia: A drunken man was severely mauled after freeing four lions from their circus cage.
January 18, 1991 Toulouse, France: A tiger attacked and seriously injured a 3-year-old girl at a circus performance. The 400-lb. tiger leaped into the audience, slashed the child across her face and managed to get her head in his jaws before being dragged off.
December 19, 1990 Italy: A 65-year-old woman was mauled to death at an amusement park when a leopard she was feeding seized her by the neck and dragged her into the cage. The animal, part of an exhibit in a small town in Italy, was tear-gassed, shot, and killed.
November 5, 1990 Phoenix, AZ: A woman visiting a Phoenix resort was attacked by a tiger while his trainer was walking him on a leash. Witnesses reported that the tiger acted like a “pussycat” only moments before the attack. The woman was hospitalized with severe puncture wounds.
October 27, 1990 Candelaria, Colombia: A tiger escaped from his circus handler during a parade and killed a 1-year-old child.
August 9, 1990 Sturgis, SD: A 5-year-old girl was mauled by a leopard who was restrained by a small chain on a box in Engessor’s Endangered Species traveling act. The girl’s mother sued for $100,000 in damages.
June 23, 1990 San Pedro, Argentina: One man was killed and three people were seriously injured when they were mauled by two lions who escaped from a traveling circus. The lions were shot and killed by police.
June 18, 1990 Sidney, MT: A leopard in a petting zoo bit a 7-year-old boy. The owner of the leopard said he had no intention of stopping his shows.
May 1, 1990 San Francisco, CA: A zoo keeper was mauled by a leopard in front of school children at a San Francisco zoo. The keeper underwent surgery for deep wounds to his head, shoulders, and arm.
The following are not included in the summary at the top of the page, but illustrate how far back human ignorance of the wild nature of big cats has gone. For more than a century no one tracked the number of people mauled or exotic cats killed, until 1990. In 1965 the craze to emulate the ocelot owning, Anne Fracis in the detective show Honey West, resulted in a pet trade where ocelots were so common that anyone could find one at a local pet store, but these cats were killed and turned loose when they matured for their propensity for biting their owners and devouring the family pets.
Year Unknown and not included in totals at top of page: Del Donahoo “…was bit by a 270-pound neutered male lion, Fester, who was taken around the country by his trainer to demonstrate how to become a trainer. Fester came to Midway Mall and Donahoo was picked to meet with him. The lion bit Donahoo in his back and then had Donahoo’s head in his mouth. ‘I went to the hospital and Fester went to Florida to retire,’ Donahoo said. A photographer got a picture of the incident and sold it internationally.”
1986 Jan 31 New Zealand: A lioness on the loose in the Village Green at the Lakefront and armed police on top of buildings. Four lions escaped from their cage just after a performance of the Whirling Brothers Circus on January 31. One was quickly recaptured, but three others kept police and circus staff on their toes for at least two hours. The circus owner said the lions had escaped after “street kids” had thrown a poodle into the lion cage which caused them to fight among themselves.The poodle was stolen from a Rotorua property and was killed by the lions. Roads leading to the Lakefront reserve were closed for two hours, staff at Queen Elizabeth Hospital were told to stay inside and bowlers in the Government Gardens were cleared from greens. Police at the time were highly critical of a large number of onlookers, including parents with children, who hampered efforts to recapture them.
1982 Bridgeport, CT: Dwight Bernheimer bought a cougar named Dash (aka Tina) from a dealer in Florida and took her to his home near Beardsley Park where he would walk her around town on a leash to show off his prize. Big cats had been banned as pets since 1967 but Bernheimer claimed to have had her prior to the ban and was allowed to keep her. That would have made her 15 at the time of the mauling that sent a young man to the Bridgeport Hospital.
1976 Zanesville, OH: Monado, a Bengal tiger, served as the on-site mascot for the Muskingum Area Technical College for five years. He made his debut in 1971, and he died in June 1976 after he escaped from his pen and was killed by an overdose of tranquilizer. “We felt bad when the tranquilizer killed him,” said then-president Walker Huffman. “He was so beautiful and playful. We basically brought him up, fed him with a bottle — he was like a baby. In 2011 Zanesville became known to animal lovers as the Zanesville Massacre when 56 wild animals were released by their owner and all but 6 were shot to death by authorities.
1972 Hollywood, CA: JODIE FOSTER has had a life-long fear of cats since she was almost mauled to death by a lion when she was eight years old. The actress was a child star on the set of 1972 movie Napoleon And Samantha, when a big cat co-star lashed out at her. Foster remembers, “I was walking ahead of him. He was on an invisible leash, some piano wire. He got sick of me being slow, picked my up and held me sideways and shook me like a doll. “I was in shock and thought it was an earthquake. I turned around and saw the entire crew running off in the other direction. Foster firmly believes the animal spared her life – but she admits the incident in 1972 has left her wary of all kinds of felines.
1966 New York, NY: Model Nell Theobald poses with a lion in the New York Coliseum while promoting the 1966 International Automobile Show. Moments after this photo was made, the lion bit into her leg, refusing to release her until the handlers beat the animal and forced him to let go.
1959 California: A circus wagon overturns freeing two lions. One is killed and the other is never found.
1937 London, England: The Rev Harold Davidson, Rector of Stiffkey, had a self-proclaimed mission among London’s prettier prostitutes which got him unfrocked eventually. After which he began exhibiting himself in a barrel, and later in Skegness in a (14ft x 8ft) cage with a lion called Freddy while denouncing the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Norwich and the hierarchy of the Church of England. One day in 1937 the normally docile
Freddy had enough and mauled Davidson to death.
1928 September, El Monte, CA: In September 1928, while the Charles and Muriel Gay were traveling in Europe with the circus, a trainer failed to close a runway while lions Nigger, Ike and Short-Tail were being moved between cages. Nigger made a dash for freedom, and slashed the arm of farm manager John Rounan at the moment Rounan fired a shot at the animal; the wound required 100 stitches, and Rounan later died. Trainer Joe Hoffman took off after Nigger and killed him with a bullet in the brain. Short-Tail walked into an open cage, and Hoffman was able to lock him in. But Ike got shot in the leg and ran around the farm in a rage, menacing a cow, a cage full of baby lions and arriving police officers. Ike finally died in a hail of bullets from many guns. Gay’s Lion Farm was home to all three of the famous MGM lions and began an era of terror and misery for lions in America. When the farm collapsed in 1942 the 200 lions were dispersed to zoos. (It is apparent from the name of one lion above that these people disrespected people as much as the cats)
1927 Sept. 16, San Diego, CA: Aviation was in its infancy and all eyes were agog over Charles Lindbergh’s trans-Atlantic flight just a few months earlier. MGM studio execs decided to cash in on the craze and cooked up a publicity stunt to fly their storied mascot, Leo, non-stop from California to New York. Martin Jensen, and Leo made a forced crash landing in Arizona. “I crawled out and looked to see what had happened to Leo,” Jensen said in a 1927 newspaper article. “The cage had held tight, and he wasn’t scratched, although he did look disgusted, and I figured his opinion of me as a flier is pretty low.” Six days after the crash, Jensen led the search party on horseback starting from a ranch near the Mogollon Rim back to find Leo, still caged and still alive. Read about Leo the MGM mascot lion.
1919 Sept. 21, Los Angeles, CA: Lillian Harmon, 17, wanted to pose for a picture with Leo, a usually tame African lion who had appeared in many films. But when she stepped into his enclosure at E&R Jungles near Eastlake Park, Leo attacked. “Miss Harmon had her hand on the animal’s head. It is one of the performances for which Leo was trained,” The Times reported, citing H.J. Harmon, Lillian’s brother. “For just one second, the lion stood motionless and then without the least warning struck the girl with his paw, knocking her to the ground,” the newspaper said. “In the next instant he was clawing her.”
Several men rushed to her aid and hit the lion with an iron bar. But “before a bar could be found, Leo had the girl in his jaw,” The Times said. “At the Receiving Hospital, it was found that the girl was badly torn on the back, arms and thighs where the claws and the teeth of the animal found their marks.” This was the beginning of a 100 year history of captive exotic cats being misunderstood, abused and killed for man’s entertainment in the U.S.
1899 Aston: In 1899 a young black maned Nubian lion escaped from Bostock and Wombwell’s Menagerie which was in Aston. A report which has just been unearthed in the Pall Mall Gazette on September 28, described the amazing scenes which ensured. It began: “The eastern suburb of Birmingham was yesterday the scene of a protracted and exciting animal hunt.” It all began when the lion’s keeper was distracted by a fight between an ostrich and a deer – and, the Pall Mall Gazette claimed – an elephant had removed the fastening to its cage.
Bostock and Wombwell’s was one of the most famous travelling menageries of the 19th century. It started in the 1830s and continued until 1932 when it was finally forced to sell its collection to London Zoo. The report said: “Men, women and children scampered off in all directions as the lion dashed across the ground, hotly pursued by the men from Wombwell’s. “A group of children were in its path, but it cleared them at a bound.” The lion made for a stream, before taking refuge in a sewer. Chief lion tamer Marcus Orenzo heard the lion’s roar, crawled through a manhole and began to pursue the animal. A trap was set with a cage over the drain opening and Orenzo, ‘armed with a heavy revolved and accompanied by a boarhound’ approached the lion, firing two shots. The report said: “The lion tamer crawled after it with all haste, and the faithful boarhound was kept close at hand.” The dog began to bark the lion retreated, being captured in the waiting cage.
A woman in NY was battling cancer, her sister had run off leaving her with her three children ages 6-17 and her home was in foreclosure…. She also had five servals living in her basement!
She would never be able to rent an apartment to keep her five servals and was left no choice but to try and find them a new home. After careful consideration we decided that we were able to rescue the 5 servals and immediately went into action. All the servals currently at the sanctuary live alone which they prefer as they’re solitary by nature, so in order to house 5 servals in one enclosure we had to get creative. We joined two existing enclosures together which made one huge 3000 sq ft space that the servals could roam around in and enjoy.
On top of joining the enclosures together, we added platforms, den boxes, hideaway areas and we were told they had a waterfall as kittens and loved it, so we also added a pool! We received the import permits, loaded the van with carriers and equipment then started on the long drive to New York while others finished preparing the enclosure.
We arrived in Cohoes New York, just north of Albany to a typical residential neighborhood, the 5 servals had been kept in the basement of the house which had been converted into a living room and except for a few escapes over the years including an incident where one of the owners was bit and in hospital for a week, they’d never spent any time outside. There were 4 males, Santino, Doodles, Zoul and Zimba and 1 female Zouletta, all 5 had been declawed and were between the ages of 12 and 14 years.
All the servals except for Doodles are related and had been purchased from a pet store in Latham NY, Doodles was added to the serval pack at a later date and ironically belonged to a man in Florida who’s wife told him to choose between her and the cat!
It was a kind of a bizarre and an uneasy experience to walk into the basement area and see the 5 servals hanging out in front of the fire, by the TV and on top of the hot tub! It is hard to imagine that these cats spent much time out of their concrete floored cell because the furniture and hot tub cover were not chewed and these five love to chew! But most of all it was just sad to see these 5 wild cats in such cramped unnatural conditions. The owners obviously loved the cats and had planned on them being a part of their life, they’d constructed a caged area with a drain in the floor so they could clean more easily and shut them off into the area when they had company or weren’t in the house. The cats weren’t living in filthy conditions, it was obvious they’d been fed as they all looked overweight, the owners recounted stories of them playing on pool tables and with their air hockey game, but it didn’t change the fact that their ignorance had led to the cats living on concrete in these dungeon like settings for over a decade….
Of course life has lots of surprises and circumstances change and the owners are now unable to afford or house the servals any longer…
So the rescue began…
With the help of the owners we managed to get four of the five servals into the carriers quite easily, but Doodles wasn’t impressed with these strangers invading his territory and wouldn’t go into the carrier even after we tried using food to lure him in, so he had to be netted.
Sedating cats is always the last resort, certain cats can react badly to the drugs, so we never do this unless it’s absolutely necessary…
With all 5 servals safely loaded into the BCR van and the last tearful goodbyes said, we began our long drive back to Tampa, we drove straight through the night and over 20 hours later arrived back at the sanctuary!
More staff members were waiting to help unload the cats, we weighed all the servals on the way to their new enclosure, they weighed between 31 and 42lbs, ideally they should have weighed between 20 and 30lbs.
We lined the carriers up and prepared them so we could simply unlatch the doors when we were out of the enclosure. Santino, easily recognizable with his old injury of a broken ear was the first to emerge from the carriers and explore. One by one the other servals finally began to follow his lead and introduced themselves to the outside world and their new home.
The only way we can continue to rescue cats in need like Santino, Doodles, Zimba, Zoul and Zouletta is through your support. Stay tuned for future updates on all 6 servals and how they’re adapting to life at Big Cat Rescue. You can help us change the way people treat big cats by donating at the top right of the page.
These are a few of the photos from the rescue of five servals who had been kept in a NY basement for more than 12 years.
Banshee was a pet, but when his owner had business out of the country she asked if she could board him here at Big Cat Rescue. She came and stayed two days with him to make sure that he was comfortable and left him with all his favorite toys. She cried and cried at the thought of leaving him and assured us she would be back in a couple months.
In September of 1999 she wrote and said that a Bobcat was no longer a feasible pet for her at this time and that she would be leaving Banshee with us until her situation changed. We went ahead and built him his own 900 square foot Cat-A-Tat and for the first time in his life he was able to climb trees, hide in the bushes and stalk bugs and prey.
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.
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 and took possession of Teisha.
For the first week after Teisha 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.
Although Teisha had a hard time standing when she first arrived, she is doing better every day. Walking more, chuffing more and coming to enjoy life more, thanks to you, and proper vet care.
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!
Rescue Photos as They Roll In
See all of the photos of Teisha the tiger as we get them here:
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.
Top Shocking Incidents of Big Cat Exploitation
We hope by sharing a new list with you each month that you will join us in speaking out for the big cats and cubs that are exploited across this country every day. We encourage you to take one small action today and contact one or more of the offenders below to politely express your concern. Together we can be the voice for the voiceless…together we can make a difference. If you learn of exotic cats or cubs being exploited in your area, please contact Susan Bass at Susan.Bass@BigCatRescue.org.
No. 1 The Tatiana Restaurant and Nightclub in Hallandale, Florida
has featured live tigers in their nightclub shows. This photo from Tatiana’s Facebook page shows a woman performing last month with an adult tiger that does not appear to even be restrained. This is a public safety issue as well as animal exploitation.
Other photos taken by guests show a tiger in a tiny transport cage on stage at the nightclub. Imagine the noise the tiger must endure and the fear he must be experiencing! A loud nightclub is no place for a magnificent wild cat. Please ask Tatiana to STOP exploiting tigers and ask USDA to inspect the facility.
No. 2 The Alachua County Fair in Gainesville, Florida
this week features the notorious Amazing Rainforest Experience circus show with big cats. You may recall seeing photos of emaciated tigers in August at the Missouri State Fair (one photo at right).
Those cats are also owned by Amazing Rainforest Experience, so it is very likely these same cats are now being forced to perform at the Alachua County Fair. Please email the fair and let them know animal lovers do NOT want to see big cats exploited as entertainment. Also ask the FWC to inspect the cats at the fair.
No. 3 Ustad, a wild tiger in India, needs your voice!
Please add your ROAR to the global effort to return Ustad (T24) to the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve where he belongs!
Big Cat Rescue was contacted by a group of big cat advocates requesting our help to increase international awareness regarding the false accusation that a tiger named Ustad killed a local forest guide in the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve in May 2015.
Witnesses said it was a different tiger that attacked the forest guide, yet Ustad was subsequently seized and illegally moved to a zoo more than 250 miles away from the only home he has ever known. Secretly capturing a wild tiger and moving him to a glorified zoo is against all of India’s standard operating procedures. Locals believe the move was orchestrated for purely political reasons.
Even more concerning is that the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), which is responsible for wild animal conservation in India, was not informed of the capture and move, against all of the country’s normal protocols. NTCA sent a team to the tiger reserve following the death of the forest guide and determined that Ustad was not guilty, acted as a normal tiger, and should be returned to the wild instead of locked up and exhibited at a glorified zoo for the rest of his life.
Please let India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the NTCA know that the world is watching and wants Ustad to be returned to the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve where he belongs.
Suggested Wording for your Email:
I wish to add my voice to the global ROAR that T24 Ustad be freed from captivity and immediately returned to the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve where he belongs!
NTCA has already determined that Ustad is not guilty of the attack and death of the forest guide in Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve in May 2015. NTCA found that Ustad acted as a normal tiger and should be returned to the wild. Please do not sentence Ustad to a life locked up and on exhibit for the rest of his life. He is a wild tiger and should be allowed the dignity to live out the rest of his life in the wild. The world is watching.
Please send your email to each of these email addresses. THANK YOU FOR ROARING FOR USTAD!!
Featured Cat’s Story (Alex Tiger)
Short video of Alex playing with his Spice bag
Keeper Comments about Alex
How to Sponsor Alex Tiger
Tiger Fun Facts
NEW Magazine Style format unveiled for the Big Cat Times Fall Edition
World Animal Day Screensaver featuring 32 close-up photos of various cats at Big Cat Rescue
Big Cats and Pumpkins screensaver featuring 19 photos of big cats playing with pumpkins
Big Cat Wallpaper for your computer, tablet and phone
World Animal Day Video
FREE Big Cat Books
Social Media Fun Shares
Take advantage of this hauntingly good deal in our online gift shop www.bigcatrescue.biz All purr-chases help the cats like Andre and Arthur here!
Small Cat Fun Area Gets a Roof
Our Small Cat Fun area has been under construction for about a year now. It has been complicated by the fact that it is so huge and yet will require a roof. Vernon Stairs and his son, Vern Stairs (his sister calls him Chuck) and Scott Haller have been working, in between record rain storms, to get this play area done. More than 50 of the 5 x 15 foot roof panels are in place now…just 100’s to go. This turned out to be a much more expensive and difficult project than we had planned, but the cats are going to love it!
Halloween Haunted House
Murder House will be offering terrifying experiences for those who love the thrill of haunted houses, and they are doing it to benefit Big Cat Rescue!
Big Cat Rescue will NOT be hosting a haunted trail this year, but instead is asking all of our supporters to go to the Murder House in Tampa to get your chills and thrills, as they will be donating proceeds to our cats.
We love big cats, small cats, wild cats, tame cats, friendly cats, fierce cats and YES, hybrid cats. It is because we love all cats, for who they are, that we fight so hard to protect them. Hybrid breeders will tell you that we seek legislation that will take your hybrids from you and that is a lie. We do not support laws that displace existing cats from where they are, except in extreme cases of abuse and neglect. We support bans on breeding and private ownership of wild cats and hybrid cats, but always make sure there are “grand-father” clauses that allow people to keep the wild cats or hybrid cats they have; they just won’t be allowed to buy, breed or sell more.
The hate and fear mongers will tell you anything to try and have you protect their “right” to breed, sell and exploit wild cats. If you really want the whole truth, please read through to the end of the page.
Allowing the private possession of exotic cat hybrids is like strapping a nuclear warhead to the feral cat problem.
I’ve had more than 30 years experience with wild cats and am the founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue, the world’s largest accredited sanctuary that is dedicated entirely to exotic cats. We rescue and provide a permanent home to non-domestic cats, and almost never even consider rescuing hybrid cats because that problem is too vast.
We are seeing an alarming escalation in the number of hybrid cats who are being abandoned by their owners. While we track the number of wildcat species who are abandoned each year, we have never accurately tracked the number of hybrids in peril because those numbers have been too huge. This is a serious and growing problem in America for a number of reasons.
1. Current laws, where they exist, are impossible to enforce because they often include language that states what percentage of wild blood is allowed, or what generation of breeding from the wild is allowed, or some other vagary that depends on the honesty of the person selling a cat that is derived from great misery to the animals. It is actually much easier to breed Servals, Leopard Cats, Jungle Cats and other truly wild species of cat than hybrids, so these animals have been sold and misrepresented as hybrids to evade prohibitions on wildcat ownership. Over the years I have been asked by law enforcement on several occasions to identify cats that were thusly mislabeled. The only way to enforce a ban on exotic cats and hybrids is to include language that includes all lookalike crosses. By the 4th generation away from a wild parent, the vast majority of cats lose that wild “look.” If it looks wild, it probably is.
2. Despite the fact that we do not have space for all of the hybrid cat requests that we get for placement, we have had to rescue a number of them because we are registered with the state as wildlife rehabbers, in addition to being licensed as a sanctuary. If someone thinks they have a Florida Panther trapped in their garage, I am the one who gets the call to go do something about it.
When someone reports that a bobcat has killed their domestic cat, dog or livestock, I am the one who goes to check it out.
When someone traps a “panther” because it’s been lurking around their house and stalking their children, I get the call. One such call was that of a “Florida Panther” stalking a little old lady. This call and most of these calls turn out to be hybrid cats.
Animal Control and local Humane Societies know that hybrid cats almost never work out as pets. The liability is just too great so in most cases they are euthanized with no attempt to adopt them out. When I end up in the field, rescuing some terrorized family from a hybrid cat, I know that I either have to build it a cage or it will be killed. Because of that, I’ve had a number of hybrid cats and can attest to the fact that they:
A. Hybrids suffer from genetic defects that usually require surgery and special diets because they cannot properly digest their food. The most common ailment that I have seen is inflammatory bowel disease and projectile diarrhea.
B. Hybrids bite. Even in play, even if they love you, they bite and I have scars all over my hands from them. Hybrids are far too rough to live with domestic cats and dogs and are certainly not safe to have around children or the elderly.
C. Hybrids spray. Their wildcat parents would have been hard wired to mark many square miles of territory, and this is actually the number one reason I hear from people trying to get rid of their hybrids. Male or female, neutered or not, hybrids spray copious amounts of acidic, foul smelling urine all over everything, and everyone, that they want to mark as theirs.
D. Hybrids are notorious for loud howling throughout the night. Neither their wild parent, nor their domestic parent is known for this, but it seems to be ubiquitous among hybrids. This sound is chilling and very loud and I’ve never found anything that will curb it or even limit it to normal human waking hours. It seems to accompany carrying toys around in their mouths and is yet one more sad reminder of how confused these cats are.
E. There are no rabies vaccines that are approved for use in wild cats, nor their hybrid offspring. Exotic cats will often die from being vaccinated with traditional modified live virus vaccines like those used on domestic cats. We use a killed virus vaccine on our wildcat species and on our hybrids, but there is no way to know if it is effective on either.
3. The menace to native wildlife, as stated at the beginning, is probably the most pressing reason to ban the private possession of hybrid cats. If a person asks what will happen to their hybrid cat if they turn them in to Animal Control or a local Humane Society, they will learn that there is no hope of the animal being adopted. This results in people abandoning their hybrid cats to the wild.
Hybrid cats are much better hunters, due to their recently wild genes, and thus can do much more damage to the eco system than feral cats alone. Add to that the likelihood of breeding with the feral cat population and you end up with much larger cats, capable of killing bigger and a wider array of native wildlife, including amphibious species because wild cats will readily go in the water after prey.
Introducing wild cat traits into the feral cat population also imbues them with the wild cats’ enhanced ability to evade humans, avoid traps, cross rivers and travel much farther distances, which can spread the devastation into pristine areas that do not currently have feral cat populations. Because hybrid cats are susceptible to all of the same domestic cat diseases (and now we are learning that they are contracting domestic dog diseases, including canine distemper and parvo and parasites and diseases that were previously carried primarily by raccoons) hybrid cats can spread these diseases into the wild populations as well.
These hybrid cats not only compete with other natural predators but may even cross breed with bobcats and eventually cougars over time, thus causing even more damage to existing native species.
There are so many reasons why private ownership of exotic cats and their hybrids should be banned, and yet only one reason to allow it; ie: ill gotten gain.
What about hybrid cats?
Allowing the private possession of wild cat/ domestic cat hybrids is like strapping a nuclear war head to the feral cat problem.
I get e-mails every day, asking what I think of hybrids as pets. The hybrids in questions are usually Bengal Cats (leopard cat and domestic cross), Chausie or Stone Cougars (jungle cat and domestic cat cross) and Savannah (Serval and domestic cat cross) and Safari Cats (Geoffroy Cat and domestic cat cross). In the case of Stone Cougars the polydactyl feet and dwarf body style which are typical of severe inbreeding are encouraged to make the cat look less cat-like. Some people ask about Pixie Bobs, but I don’t know of any compelling evidence that suggests they really have any bobcat blood. Sometimes, when people are talking about hybrids, they are talking about lion/tiger crosses or serval/caracal crosses and much of what is true about the domestic crosses is more so of the wildcat hybrids.
In a nutshell, it is an irresponsible thing to do and there is no redeeming reason to cross breed these cats nor to support those who do by buying one. It almost never works out for the individual cat and in the rare case that it does, the number of animals that had to suffer in order for this one rare cat to exist is staggering.
While the rest of this article refers to Bengal Cats, the same is true of all of the hybrid cats. Some people have beautiful, fifth generation Bengal Cats that are reported to eat cat food, live quietly with domestic and use the litter box fastidiously. This may well be the case, but the breeders tend to keep breeding back to the wild Leopard Cats in order to get the exotic markings. The idea was to glean the best of both worlds: a fabulously spotted or striped cat with all the gentleness of thousands of years of domestic history. Unfortunately, what more often happens is that you get the ordinary cat coat and a wild personality.
Even after 4 or 5 generations, that wild personality is a dominant trait and while it is marketed as being just like having a tiny tiger in your home, most people don’t know what that really means. As someone who is not trying to sell you a $2000.00 kitten that you will one day take to the dog pound out of frustration, let me tell you what it is like to live with a hybrid.
We have had a bunch of them that were former pets. We have had to turn away many, many more because most of them cannot run free outside and have to have the same cages as bobcats and cougars. They all spray. Male or female, neutered or not, first generation or fifth generation; I have never met one that didn’t spray urine all over everything in their path.
They bite. Even in play, even if they love you, they bite and I have scars all over my hands to prove that their love nips will leave you bleeding. They want to eat your other pets and they don’t care if it’s a German shepherd, they are going to be constantly looking for a way to take the dog down. That is why many of them can’t run free on Easy Street. They pick fights with 500 pound tigers. I have even received reports from Florida’s Game and Fish Commission of them stalking little old ladies and I have been called in to trap and remove them. This discarded pet now lives on Easy Street, but most are not this lucky.
The creation of a non protected species, by hybridizing the endangered leopard cats with the non endangered domestic cats has also created a huge market for the fur of these hybrids. Check out any of the big fur dealers, like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus and they will try to sell you the idea that their furs are from killing Lippi Cats (sometimes called Lipi Cats) in China. Of course that is absurd. There is no such thing as a Lippi Cat. The fur patterns on these coats can only be from truly endangered cats or from the Bengal Cat hybrids. In either case it is sad (and sick) but hybridizing cats has made this a lucrative market. So much, in fact, that the Bengal Cat is commonly called, the Money Cat.
I get hate mail from hybrid breeders every time I say anything about the fact that many times domestic cats are killed by the wild cats in the mating process, or that the conditions the breeding cats are often kept in is deplorable, or the physical ailments that many of these neurotic offspring suffer from, or the fact that millions of animals are being killed in shelters every year while people are still supporting the breeders. So many breeders claim that they only breed 4th and 5th generations, but don’t seem to get the fact that you can’t get a 4th generation without a lot of suffering in the first three. By the time a person breeds enough cats to get to the fourth generation they have created approximately 50 cats who will end up being slaughtered for coats or killed because of their behavior problems. I stand amazed at the number of people who just don’t get this and how they manage to pretend that they are not the cause of the suffering if they purchase a fourth generation cat. The cats can’t speak for themselves though, so the daily hate mail is just the price of speaking the truth for them. Please consider all of the suffering that you can eliminate by not succumbing to the urge to own something wild. Your sacrifice can make the world a better place.
Please Don’t Ask Us To Take Your Bengal Cat or Savannah
We get hundreds of letters each year from people who bought a cute little Bengal Cat kitten and who can’t wait to get rid of them when they reach adulthood. We do not take in Bengal Cats and don’t know anyone reliable who does. The Bengal Cat Rescue Network is the only place we have found online who offers to take in unwanted Bengal Cats and we cannot speak for their integrity or policies, but have listed a link to them here to help you try to find a home for the cat you have discovered is now spraying everything in sight and who is attacking your pets, children and spouse. The Bengal Cat Rescue Network.
Before You Buy a Hybrid or Purebred Pet
As I read this, I thought that so much of this sentiment applies to what we witness in our rescuing of wildcats. “DON’T BREED OR BUY WHILE SANCTUARIES FILL UP” – just changing a few words…it’s what we try to educate, too. (Having put in time volunteering at a shelter’s euthanasia department, crying my way home every day, believe me, this all rings very true and deserves sharing far and wide). These are some of the very same issues our staff deal with every day, too.
“I think our society needs a huge “Wake-up” call.
As a shelter manager, I am going to share a little insight with you all…a view from the inside if you will.
First off, all of you breeders/sellers should be made to work in the “back” of an animal shelter for just one day.
Maybe if you saw the life drain from a few sad, lost, confused eyes, you would change your mind about breeding and selling to people you don’t even know. That puppy or kitten you just sold will most likely end up in my shelter when it’s not cute anymore.
So, how would you feel if you knew that there’s about a 90% chance that pet will never walk out of the shelter it is going to be dumped at? Purebred or not! About 50% of all of the pets that are “owner surrenders” or “strays,” that come into my shelter are purebred.
The most common excuses I hear are;
“We are moving and we can’t take our dog (or cat).” Really? Where are you moving to that doesn’t allow pets?
Or they say “The dog got bigger than we thought it would.” How big did you think a German Shepherd would get?
“We don’t have time for her.” Really? I work a 10-12 hour day and still have time for my 6 dogs!
“She’s tearing up our yard.” How about making her a part of your family?
They always tell me: “We just don’t want to have to stress about finding a place for her. We know she’ll get adopted, she’s a good pet.” Odds are your pet won’t get adopted & how stressful do you think being in a shelter is?
Well, let me tell you, your pet has 72 hours to find a new family from the moment you drop it off. Sometimes a little longer if the shelter isn’t full and your dog manages to stay completely healthy. If it sniffles, it dies.
Your pet will be confined to a small run/kennel in a room with about 25 other barking or crying animals. It will have to relieve itself where it eats and sleeps. It will be depressed and it will cry constantly for the family that abandoned it.
If your pet is lucky, I will have enough volunteers in that day to take him/her for a walk or give them a loving pat. If not, your pet won’t get any attention besides having a bowl of food slid under the kennel door and the waste sprayed out of its pen with a high-powered hose.
If your pet is an adult, black, part exotic, or any of the “Bully” breeds (pit bull, rottie, mastiff, etc) it was pretty much dead when you walked it through the front door. Those pets just don’t get adopted.
It doesn’t matter how ‘sweet’ or ‘well behaved’ they are. If your pet doesn’t get adopted within its 72 hours and the shelter is full, it will be destroyed.
If the shelter isn’t full and your pet is good enough, and of a desirable enough breed it may get a stay of execution, but not for long.
Most dogs get very kennel protective after about a week and are destroyed for showing aggression. Even the sweetest dogs will turn in this environment.
If your pet makes it over all of those hurdles, chances are it will get kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection and will be destroyed because shelters just don’t have the funds to pay for even a $100 treatment.
Here’s a little euthanasia 101 for those of you that have never witnessed a perfectly healthy, scared animal being “put-down:”
First, your pet will be taken from its kennel on a leash. They always look like they think they are going for a walk – happy, wagging their tails. Until they get to “The Room,” every one of them freaks out and puts on the brakes when we get to the door. It must smell like death or they can feel the sad souls that are left in there, it’s strange, but it happens with every one of them.
Your dog or cat will be restrained, held down by 1 or 2 vet techs depending on the size and how freaked out they are. Then a euthanasia tech or a vet will start the process. They will find a vein in the front leg and inject a lethal dose of the “pink stuff.” Hopefully, your pet doesn’t panic from being restrained and jerk. I’ve seen the needles tear out of a leg and been covered with the resulting blood and been deafened by the yelps and screams.
They all don’t just “go to sleep,” sometimes they spasm for a while, gasp for air and defecate on themselves. When it all ends, your pets corpse will be stacked like firewood in a large freezer in the back with all of the other animals that were killed waiting to be picked up like garbage.
What happens next? Cremated? Taken to the dump? Rendered into pet food? You’ll never know and it probably won’t even cross your mind. It was just an animal and you can always buy another one, right? I hope that those of you that have read this are bawling your eyes out and can’t get the pictures out of your head I deal with everyday on the way home from work.
I hate my job, I hate that it exists & I hate that it will always be there unless you people make some changes and realize that the lives you are affecting go much further than the pets you dump at a shelter.
Between 9 and 11 MILLION animals die every year in shelters and only you can stop it. I do my best to save every life I can but rescues are always full, and there are more animals coming in everyday than there are homes.
My point to all of this DON’T BREED OR BUY WHILE SHELTER PETS DIE!
Hate me if you want to. The truth hurts and reality is what it is. I just hope I maybe changed one person’s mind about breeding their pet, taking their loving pet to a shelter, or buying a pet. I hope that someone will walk into my shelter and say “I saw this and it made me want to adopt.”
An exotic breed of cat has been banned, with environment minister Peter Garrett calling it an extreme risk to native wildlife. So-called “Savannah” cats are a cross between domestic cats and an African wildcat known as the serval.
They tend to be spotted with slightly larger ears than other cats and have become popular with some cat-lovers.
But environmentalists fear they retain the strong hunting instincts of their African ancestors and could interbreed with millions of feral cats already in Australia, which have wrought havoc on the country’s indigenous wildlife.
“The risks associated with allowing this cross-bred cat into the country, when we already have up to 12 million feral cats wreaking havoc on native fauna, are simply too great,” Mr Garrett said.
“That is why I have banned the import of these cats immediately.”
He said the Savannah cat posed “an extreme threat to Australia’s native wildlife”.
Read some real letters that we receive from people who own a Bengal Cats and know what it is really like.
Bengal Cat May Be Killed for Biting Neighbors
Just a pet to owner, a threat to others: Officials think a cat that attacked two people is part wild and want to test it for rabies.
Problem is, they’d have to put it to sleep first.
By SHADI RAHIMI
Published June 1, 2006
ST. PETERSBURG — Melissa Russell was taking her usual Saturday morning walk when a striped cat named Czar yowled and lunged at her. Then he then bit her in the calf.“I was shocked,” said Russell, 78, of Snell Isle.
An hour later, 6-year-old Cole Fisher stopped to pet Czar. The cat bit him in the thigh, said his mother, Lana. Now the county wants to seize Czar to test it for rabies. Officials think Czar is part wild, an exotic Bengal. No rabies vaccines are approved for hybrids or wild animals, so a rabies test requires killing the cat first.
But Czar’s owner, Jo Ellen Janas, 53, won’t give him up. She insists Czar is a domestic cat, not a Bengal.
This week, the county filed a petition for an injunction to force Janas to hand over Czar. “It’s a tough deal,” said Dr. Welch Agnew, the county’s assistant director for animal services. “We never want to take somebody’s pet, but we’ve got victims out there.”
Both families said Janas was apologetic after learning of the attacks, which occurred May 20. Janas assured them Czar had been vaccinated for rabies and mailed copies of his veterinary record. That’s where Russell saw that Czar was classified as a Bengal, an exotic hybrid created by breeding a domestic cat with an Asian leopard.
She alerted animal services.
On May 24 , a county animal services officer went to Janas’ home on Brightwaters Boulevard to take Czar and get him tested for rabies. The test requires putting the cat to sleep and removing his brain to check the stem for antibodies.
If Czar does not have rabies, Russell and Fisher can discontinue their rounds of rabies shots, Agnew said. The total series is one dose of immune globulin and five doses of rabies vaccine over 28 days. But Janas won’t turn over her beloved pet. Her attorney, Russell Cheatham, said Thursday that the cat was misidentified as a Bengal on its medical records. It is a domestic cat, he said. “If there was a less drastic means than killing her pet, it would be a different situation,” he said. “But it’s a problem because it may not be necessary.” Cheatham said his client is searching for a lab that will run a DNA test on Czar to prove he is not part wild. Janas is
keeping the animal confined to her home, he said.
Meanwhile, Russell received her second round of rabies shots Thursday, and Fisher received his first round. “I’ve been extremely worried,” Lana Fisher said. “It’s just devastating that we have to put him through this.” Both families said that though the incident has been difficult, they don’t want to pursue legal action against their neighbor. “We are Christians,” Russell said. “I have no bitterness.”
The county is not so forgiving.
“We have a suspected rabid animal that is allegedly running loose and attacking people,” said Michelle Wallace, an assistant county attorney. “It could be out running loose again, and who knows? We could have a rabies outbreak.” A court hearing is scheduled June 7. More than half the 2,700 reports of bites or scratches in the county every year involve dogs. Usually, domestic dogs, cats and ferrets suspected of rabies are issued a 10-day home quarantine, Agnew said. If they have rabies, they typically die within that period.
“But that’s not true for wild animals,” he said. “The only test that’s 100 percent accurate is a postmortem test.” Raccoons are the primary source of rabies in Florida. A rabies outbreak spread by raccoons a decade ago prompted animal services to begin taking preventive action. In March, it dropped fish-meal-coated rabies vaccine from helicopters.
I could not agree more with your philosophy re hybrid Bengals. I had a Siamese and a Tonkinese together. Both reached the age of 20+. The Tonk was fantastic, the Siamese so stupid she could not have had more than 3 brain cells … but sweet and devoted. After they passed, I swore no more pets. Then, I saw a neighbor’s Bengal and immediately fell in love with it. I still resisted. That lasted 2 weeks. I ended up purchasing 2 F4 standards, beautifully marked and full of glitter. They were gorgeous and from a famous line. One was so sweet, wouldn’t stay away from me at the kittery, I had to buy her. The 2nd was purchased to keep the 1st one company. Big mistake, the 2nd one was wild as could be and was returned within 3 days. I subsequently found out my returned one went to a breeder who ultimately returned her because she was uncontrollable … truly WILD!
Lets just say that my Bengal has been a monumental pain regardless of how cute and precocious she may be. She wakes up at 2:30 a.m. so I haven’t had a decent night’s rest in a year. If I don’t play with her she starts her ungodly whining, yodel, squeaking, whatever cat calls that could wake the dead. Without question, this is the smartest creature I’ve ever encountered. The easy problems were breaking her of the habit of jumping into the shower with me every morning, trying to swim in the commode, etc. … she’s obsessed by water; and, pulling door stops out of the wall to use them as fishing rods(?) in her water bowl. I kid you not, have photos. Around 5 a.m., if I don’t play with her, she bites my ankles until I do. Love bites but still annoying. That’s the funny side. She’s got me trained well!
The sad side is she has Irritable Bowel Disorder (IBD) which the “breeder” said she didn’t, then said she cured (I returned her after 2 weeks) and then took her back, then put me onto a raw chicken diet which I ultimately decided was too dangerous. Plus, it didn’t work. After much $$$$$ was spent at Vets, she was finally placed on 5 mg prednisolone qd and a high fiber diet. The diet gives her gas which is so foul I nearly gag. Fortunately, her stools firmed up. Don’t ask about her litter box … at least it’s always within 2″ of it if she misses. But, I’m much concerned because there is strong evidence of intestinal bleeding. After passing her stool, there is a fair quantity of mucous which is obviously blood tinged. I will not submit her to experimental surgery. I also have huge issues with putting an animal down unless its in pain. I suspected the breeder would have and my taking her back was probably because I couldn’t see her put down. So, I have her, I love her, I could kill her at times if you know what I mean. But, you are so right, this should not be a breed.
I say the above so you’ll know I have some limited experience with this breed.
You raise a valid issue. Had I known what I know now I would never had done anything to promote the continuation of this breed. Having done some literature searches, IBD seems common with Bengals; and, its not really curable. I can’t even handle the issue of coats its so barbaric.
However, I see another problem that arises from the breeders. Done so purely to increase their incomes. The breeders deny IBD is a problem, they swear their lines are free of it, its just finding the “right” diet. For me that’s pure PR. They also use the words active, intelligent, etc., to cover up that they are often wild and can “flip” on the owner in a second. Mine is sweet, definitely F4, great, really great line but if I pick her up the wrong way or startle her … my blood flows and they’re not minor scratches!!!
I wish there was some better way to alert potential owners prior to their purchase. I hate the thought of such gorgeous creatures burdened by IBD their entire lives. As well, emotionally, they don’t know who they are from one minute to the next … domestic or wild.
My Savannah Cat Eats the Furniture
Hi! I’m a volunteer with pet rescue here in Orlando. Recently I was contacted by a woman who asked me to help her find a home for her two year old F1 male savannah. She says that kitty is very affectionate and loving and great with her clients, but he’s nearly destroyed her home/ office. He eats the furniture, tears large chunks out of the towels and sheets, and chews through anything made of plastic, rubber, or vinyl (he also knows how to open doors-not a good thing). She’s covered everything in cayenne pepper powder but that still doesn’t help. I’m sure you’re familiar with this problem (which is one of the reasons you don’t advocate the breeding of hybrids) and I wondered if you have any suggestions. I’m sure that if I offered this cat up for adoption many would step forward to give him a new home, but finding a qualified home could be a real challenge. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Bengal Breeders Often Don’t Tell Buyers The Truth
Reading about hybrid cats on your website inspired me to e-mail my experiences. I purchased a snow Bengal kitten nine months ago. My main concern is that the breeder/seller does not inform the buyer of what they’re getting into when owning a hybrid cat. They’re part wild, and will need extra supervision. They will be destructive in your home. I had to get rid of fragile items, plants, certain decorations on the walls. Before I buy anything for my home, I have to consider what my hybrid will do to it. Basically, I don’t buy anything for my home anymore. It is really important that people understand how destructive they can be before they buy one. I personally feel not understanding their capabilities is what leads to giving the pet up to shelter, or resale of the cat. It saddens me to hear that people give these cats up because they bond with the person that purchases them. More so than regular cats. I’m always pulling my hybrid off my other two cats. She can be a bit of a bully. I had long deep scratches covering my legs the first 6 months. Biting and scratching is hard to break, but can be done. She no longer scratches, but she loves to bite.
The most common in Bengalis (it is more common to have it than not) is irritable bowel disease, which means a life of projectile diarrhea. Our cat was having non-stop diarrhea, sometimes with mucus in it. The smell was terrible. It would reek through out the entire house daily. I guess this is the main reason I’m e-mailing. I hope this information will help others. The reason these cats have diarrhea is that their metabolisms is high, so they need different food than a normal house cat. I started feeding ours one boiled boneless skinless chicken thigh every morning, and one can of high quality cat food “Pet Promise” that I would dish out through out the afternoon and evening. It’s important to feed them the canned cat food also. They need the vitamins that the chicken will not offer. Due to their faster metabolisms, they eat more than a normal house cat. Ours eats twice the amount of regular house cats. Tina
Urinating outside litter box
I have a 3 1/2 year old male Bengal who started urinating outside of the liter box in the house when he was just past 2 years old. We started him on daily doses of prozac for this behavor problem. Over the course of a year we increased the dosage 2 times and he was almost at the maximum dose and we got an email from the breeder who suggested we try the Depo-Provera injections. We got King to the vet for the first injection and started slowly decreasing the other medication until it was gone. We were not supposed to take King back for another injection until 1 month later but before that time was up he was back to unrinating in the house. We took King back to the vet for the second shot and it seems like the urinating is worse. We are faced with the choice of finding him a new home with someone who can deal with this behavor or putting him to sleep. I am so disappointed that the breeders of these cats don’t tell people that this is very common. Please email me with any suggestions or thoughs…Thanks, Wanda
Bengal Cat Biting Child
Just wondering if you know of a rescue organization for Bengal Cats. I know yours is for big cats, but just thought I would try. Friends of mine have e Bengal Cat that is about 3 or 4 years old, their daughter is mentally handicapped. I think she bothers the cat and the cat has been biting her. They are beside themselves and don’t know what to do. We have looked everywhere for a home, but so far to no avail. Just thought I would check to see if you have any ideas. They live in the Orlando area. Thanks, Sally
Bengal Cat Doesn’t Get Along
Do you know anywhere I can take my Bengal cat to find a good home? I need to find her one, she is the cutest thing but doesn’t get long with my other cat- I figure she’ll be easier to find a home for since she is exotic. Sandy
Tritrichomonas Foetus May Cause Bloody Diarrhea
I got Tess (a Bengal Cat) last November and since then she has had 5 bouts of bloody diarrhea. I knew when I got her that the breed has “digestive problems” and didn’t mind taking care of her at all in spite of this. My breeder suggested Panacur and it seemed to help during the first 4 bouts but this 5th time it didn’t help much. I had heard about Tritrichomonas Foetus and did some research on the internet and found two persons who found out their cat(s) had this TF … obviously this is just recently recognized in cats and detection of the micro-organism is very difficult and a culture needs to be done. I contacted one of Tess’s vets with the information and she ran a test and called me 10 days later and said, “Yes, Tess is positive!” There is a treatment which has only been available since January of this year and she is now on this. I had to order it special from a company on the internet. She has to take 2 capsules every day for 14 days! Needless to say, I am really happy that I found this out and am glad that I didn’t settle for the diagnosis and wasn’t willing to just “watch her” Janice in PA
Bloody diarrhea of Bengal Cats
Carole’s note: I posted this because it may help some cats, but I have had many reports that it did not help.
“I recently was made the most beautiful gift of a female bengal kitten, she is extremely sweet and playful – and yes a little wild.
When I discovered that she had diarrhea which was on occasion blood tinged, it reminded me of my patients wheat or gluten allergies (I am an Acupuncturist).
Gluten is a protein found in cereal that is highly allergenic. It can cause irritation of the intestine in varying degrees and can lead over time to malabsorption problems, and because it is a protein, Kidney problems. It is most of the time misdiagnosed by MDs, and the patients go trough a lot of suffering until they learn how to adjust their diets.
I then decided to feed my cat gluten free cat food. This was a major project, I studied the ingredient labels of most cat foods and discovered that in most cat food there is gluten: wheat gluten, corn gluten, barley gluten etc.
Finally I found a brand “Wellness” that is grain free, and I started feeding this product along with the dryfood of this brand. The diarrhea stopped. My cat dosn’t like it quite as well as the junk cat food, but she is only just like us: we like potato chips, which are not good for us. Please post this on your website. Maybe that helps.
Greetings, Beatrice Moncrief”
It isn’t the cat’s fault
Savannah Cat Kills Fox in Belle Meade Island, Miami, FL
Hi, After checking out your website regarding Asian leopard/Bengal cat hybrids (which was very enlightening and informative), my mom had a long phone conversation with Honey at Big Cat Rescue today. She was very helpful. Thanks! She encouraged us to email your organization explaining our current situation.
I purchased a 4 month old F1 ALC/SBT hybrid from a breeder in April of this year. I am a vet tech and met the breeder through my work. I thought that her kittens were beautiful and she informed me that she had 1 kitten left from a littler and that he was the most beautiful kitten that she’s ever had. The breeder also said that he was very sweet and loving. I met the kitten and thought that he was the most amazing looking kitten and took him home on the spot. The first week away from his mother was HELL (lots of yelling and screaming) but we got through it. I neutered him and had a 4 paw de-claw done right away. I did not want him spraying in my apartment.
He was fine for the first few months. He and my 2 year old Siamese got along fairly well. The Bengal mostly annoyed the other cat with his kitten behavior. His only problem was that he would steal my socks and chew them up.
As time went on he started doing more annoying things, stealing silverware from the sink, taking my pens and pencils and chewing plants. He then started knocking things off of shelves on purpose. I’m not sure if he likes to watch them fall or if he likes the sound that they make when they crash. He also started chewing and shredding the rest of my clothing and towels. I have had to hide everything in closets.
In mid August we moved to a new apartment and got a puppy. He HATES the dog. She doesn’t bother him at all, but he goes out of his way to growl, hiss and spit at her. He even tries to hunt and attack her while she is sleeping in her crate.
He also started attacking my other cat after we moved into our new place. He starts out playing nicely with the Siamese and then goes way too far. My other cat lets him know that he’s done playing, but he won’t stop. I have to split up cat fights at least 3 times during the night. I have been loosing a lot of sleep over this. My other cat is now afraid of the Bengal and begs to be locked in a closet where the Bengal can not get at him.
In the past couple weeks the Bengal has become very food aggressive. The cats share the same kind of food but have separate dishes. The Bengal will not let the Siamese come within a 2 foot radius of the dishes if there is food in them. I now have to feed them separately.
I have lived in my new place for 2 months now and have not unpacked a single box because I am afraid that the cat will ruin the rest of my things. I have tried to hide my clothes in closets, but every time I come home from work I find out that he has learned how to open the closets and has chewed up more clothing. I now have to barricade the closets with heavy objects.
About 2 weeks after I moved into my new place I noticed a funny smell in the corner of my living room. It turned out that my Bengal had been using one of my boxes full of my stuff as his new littler box. There is nothing wrong with his litter box and there is no medical reason for him to not be using his box, but he won’t use it anyway. He has been peeing in about 5 different spots throughout my place and has decided to poop 1 foot from the entrance to his box, not in the box. I’ve tried to use behavioral modification meds on him but they were not successful. I can’t catch him to rub it on his ears, he won’t eat the flavored treat meds and I can’t hide it in raw meat.
I have talked to the breeder about his litter box issues, attacking the other cat and the destroying of my things and clothing. She told me that they aren’t ‘knick-knack’ cats. She didn’t tell me that on day 1 when I got him. She then told me that I have a few options. I can try meds (I did.), I could ‘re-train’ him or I could find him a new home.
I don’t know of anyone that would want a destructive cat that can not be handled and I do not think that ‘re-training’ him will help him stop destroying my things or attacking my dog.
I am at the end of my rope and feel that my last option is euthanasia. I realize that he is not a domesticated cat and cannot live as a pet in someone’s home. It is hard for me to have this as my last option. I had made tentative plans to put him down this weekend until I found out about your web site. It’s not his fault that he is this way. Do you know any other options for him?
Thank you for your time and consideration. Name witheld by request
Carole’s Note: The owner found a Bengal Cat Rescue group willing to try and place the cat so he will not be euthanized. If you do the math above you will see that he had become this problematic by the time he was only 10 months old. Usually it is a year and half before they become intolerable in the house. 99.9% of the mail we get indicates this is typical of the hybrids regardless of what the mix is. We get hate mail from the breeders, who don’t want this information available to you, and occasionally a letter from a pet owner who has a cat that is four or more generations removed from the wild who just isn’t bright enough to figure out that the only way to get a watered down Bengal is by creating many unfortunate cats like this one along the way. We love cats and don’t want any of them to suffer just so a few people can make a buck or stroke their own ego.
Breeder Hides Irritable Bowel Disease
I thought that my story might give others reason to pause and reconsider the purchase of a hybrid cat breed. While we were very fortunate in personality and behavior, we have a cat with very questionable health that, I believe, was unloaded on us with full knowledge and complete non-disclosure of his health problems.
We adopted a four year old retired breeding stud bengal three years ago. He’s at least an F5. He’s exceedingly well mannered – uses the scratching post and the litter box, is good with other pets and children, sleeps on the bed with me, no biting, attacking, or scratching people. As a retired stud, I was very concerned about spraying, but we’ve never had a single issue. He is not a healthy guy, though. After two close brushes with death in the first year we had him, we figured out that he has a food allergy. To chicken. Yes, chicken. Thousands of dollars were spent on hospitalization and testing and medicines and ultrasounds because we thought he had severe IBD and a potential blockage or significant internal defect. Considering that he was four years old when we bought him, you would think that the breeder might have mentioned this. After I let her know that he was sick, (but we did not want to return him) she stopped communicating with us. I had spoken (on the phone) with this lady repeatedly and at great length about this cat to make sure he was going to work in our household. I was assured that he was “naturally lean” but didn’t have any health problems. Apparently, “naturally lean” is code for an inability to gain weight because of all the diarrhea and vomiting. At least the specialty food, to which he is now restricted, has resolved the bulk of his health issues. This cat was a breeding stud for several years at that cattery, and one of his daughters is still a breeding queen there.
Buyer beware. Thank you, Heather
March 22, 2006 11:21 pm: I had just gotten in from a three hour meeting of the Animal Advisory Committee where we had wrestled with the long range goals of Animal Services and how we would be able to stop the flood of animals in the front doors to be euthanized because people didn’t want them any more. How could we fund education and aggressive spay / neuter programs in a county government fraught with cut backs? How could we stop the killing of 34,000 healthy dogs and cats each year in an environment of thought that could only do more of what wasn’t working by building more places for people to bring their pets to die? It was a topic worthy
of the energy we had all put into it tonight, but at the end of the night all we had managed to do was suggest that an outside consultant be paid to tell us how to do it and we would leave funding the implementation to another day’s discussion.
Being away from my computer for 3 hours means a pile of emails will have collected and standing at my desk I began to sort through them. I really wanted to go to bed, so not sitting down seemed to me, as if it say, I was not committed to answering all of this mail, but would see if there was anything that just couldn’t wait until morning. Then the phone rang.
The voice on the other end was shaky, female and began, “I got your number from the answering machine, and I’m sorry to call so late, but I have called everyone I can think of and Fish and Game said they would send someone yesterday, but they never did, and the trapper said he will just euthanize the cat, and the cat is scared, and I am afraid he is going to die, and if I let him loose someone is going to shoot him. It’s a big cat. I think it might be a Florida Panther. It weighs 90 pounds, is three feet long, had VERY big teeth and his paws are as big as my hands. I caught him in my garage. He has been tearing up cats in the neighborhood and some are missing. I think he ate them. I caught him in the trap with some cat food. He just fills up the entire trap…”
I don’t know how long she went through her description before I spoke. There was no hurry to speak as she was just flowing with information. I jotted down the details as I silently pondered her authenticity. I have been outspoken against people breeding and selling exotic cats and have committed much of my time to trying to stop the trade. I had become the target of a segment of our society that is comprised largely of drug dealers, criminals and those just too ignorant or uncaring to see that their participation in the industry causes such suffering for the animals. In their chat rooms they had suggested more than once that the only way to stop me was a bullet. Was this call in the middle of the night a set up for just such an opportunity?
Was this woman’s voice shaking because she was lying and involved in something that could send her to prison? The notion of a 90 lb. Florida Panther, in a dog trap, in a garage, in a waterfront community like Apollo Beach, was pretty far fetched. Is that why Fish and Game had not responded, or did she just say she called them first so that I wouldn’t? I queried her more, asking the same questions in different ways. If she was lying she would get tripped in her own tale and if she wasn’t she would surely think that I was an idiot who just couldn’t get the picture.
After a while I decided that no one could have made up a story like hers and told her I would be sending our Operations Manager Scott and our own licensed trapper to see if she changed her mind about wanting someone to come right away. Her only concern was if our trapper was of the same conviction as the one she had called earlier and I assured her that we would not kill the cat. She gave her contact info and it all matched up with the public records. She was in a high rent district that was not consistent with where most of our opponents live. I called Jamie to wake her up.
Groggy she answered the phone. She had been too exhausted to sleep, but had finally managed to drift off when she heard my voice saying, “Get up. We have to pick up a Florida Panther in Apollo Beach.” She said to wait out front and she would be ready in three minutes and she was.
As she climbed into the truck she asked me to repeat what it was we were doing again and why. If this was a 90 lb cat we would have to pick up the van from the sanctuary and have an enclosure ready upon our return. The woman was afraid for the cat because she couldn’t open the trap to give him water and he had been in it for a couple days. We needed a place we could release the cat so that he could stand up (which she also said he couldn’t do in the tiny trap he was wedged into) and get a drink.
As we switched out gear to the van Jamie called Scott to alert him that we needed a cage ready. He prepared our rehab cage because it is far removed from the tour route and the other cats in case this was truly a wild cat and as a quarantine measure.
On the one hour trip to Apollo Beach Jamie and I placed bets as to what was in the trap. Would it be a dog? A raccoon? A neighbor’s oversized tom cat? A bobcat? Partly this was due to the barrage of such sightings that turn out to be such animals and partly in our nervous aversion to what the real implications of this trip could mean to our lives. Jamie was armed with a Mag Light and has become something of an Amazon in strength due to her daily life of outside work at the rescue. I have a history of deflecting harm thanks to an overly protective Guardian Angel and hardly ever even consider my own safety but I worried for Jamie. She is the permit holder to pick up a native animal and had to be there. She knows the element of enemy we are up against. A master of disguise and undercover surveillance she has been face to face with those who use and abuse these animals. If anyone knew the dark void of greed, ego and selfishness that these exotic animal breeders and dealers shared it was Jamie. We were ready for whatever the night might bring.
I was somewhat relieved to find at the end of our route the homes were in the million dollar range. At least gun fire would probably cause an investigation. The caller met us at the door and holding back her dogs waived us to enter the garage. I quickly scanned the room to try and determine if there was anyone lurking and to get a feel for what kind of person we were dealing with. I wasn’t too thrilled with the notion of being thrust into the garage; was that so we wouldn’t make a bloody mess on the carpet?
Opening the garage door I saw the trap that was virtually busting at the seams with brown fur. Glancing around the garage I didn’t see anyone or anyplace anyone likely could be hiding. I know Jamie’s observation skills were far more adept and that she could also go on for hours describing exactly everything in the room to its most minute detail after a five minute visit. The woman rejoined us and shut the door behind her. She was no match for us and I began to un tense every muscle that had been as tight as piano wire for a battle.
She described the cat again; as if we couldn’t see him and detailed discovering the cat a week before and all that she had done to try and find help. Finding no one who cared, she borrowed a trap and set out to catch the cat herself for fear that someone would shoot him. Finally she turned to Jamie and asked, “So, what is it?”
Jamie responded that it was a Jungle Cat and I interjected that it was the biggest Jungle Cat I had ever seen. We gathered a written statement from the woman, interviewed her mother who owned the home, took photos and settled the 26 lb. Jungle Cat into the back of the van for the hour ride home.
2:13 am we arrived back at the sanctuary and the only way to get the cat to the rehab cage is to carry him across 2 acres of underbrush on a foot wide path lit by only a flashlight. I carried the flashlight and Jamie hauled the 36 pounds of cat and trap. Jamie turned him loose in his new enclosure and unlike most trapped cats he just moseyed out of the trap and strolled around the Cat-a-tat checking out the brush bama, the cave and the swinging platforms. She gave him water and secured the cage.
The next day we called Fish and Game, now known as the FWCC, to report the incident. We checked the lost and found while Dr. Wynn checked the cat over to try and tell, without sedating him, if he was a male, neutered or not and what was up with those huge paws? We had filmed an interview for a documentary into the small cat and hybrid cat business and the producer called saying she needed a few more break away shots. I told her about the rescue and offered to let her document what happens when these animals escape.
The minute she saw the cat she said it was a Stone Cougar and that there was a hybrid dealer a couple hours away who was trying to make himself famous by breeding a Chaussie (Jungle Cat / Domestic Cat cross) that looks like a cougar. Purposely inbreeding causes traits such as the polydactyl feet to make the paws bigger and the stunted, dwarf like legs to make the cats’ body style more closely resemble a cougar. The Jungle Cat is used for its brown coloring and hybrids are typically larger than either parent, so this would give the desired size for the pet owner who wants something big enough to beat up the neighbor’s Rottweiler.
This cat’s escape, or release, sums up the hybrid issue. The first generations are large, mentally confused, and often exhibit the worst of both species rather than the best. Hybrids are marketed as being miniature wildcats with all of their beauty and mystique while being easy to keep; eating cat food and using a litter box. What is most often created is a rather ordinary looking cat with no house manners who will fight you to the death for the defrosting meat in the sink. Children and pets are particularly in danger and there isn’t a house that can contain them, or in which anyone who can smell will want to live. They are often relegated to lonely lives in back yard cages or are turned loose to fend for themselves on whatever neighbor’s pets they can catch.
This cat probably sold for $2500.00 and was just a way to make some money to his breeder. This cat once was a new buyer’s prized possession. This cat knew what it meant to live in fear on the street with no one who cared if he lived or died, except for a woman who was determined that he would not be shot for mauling the neighbor’s cats. This cat may now spend 20 years in a cage because he is too big and too dangerous to be kept as a pet anymore.
On April 27 Sparticus, the Jungle Cat hybrid was re-united with his family. According to his owner, they had been vacationing and their home broken into. All of their pets had been set free and they had been unable to find Sparticus. Someone saw his story on our site and alerted the owner who was able to identify the cat by his microchip number.
This cat is the one with a story to tell and you can help him tell it: Exotic cats were not meant for life in cages. Please don’t support the exotic pet trade; including the hybrid pet trade.
Nervous and Temperamental
Hi, A few years ago I was living in Miami. It happened to be a cold October evening around 8 PM. In the parking lot I spotted a small orange kitten. Well, about 2 hours later I was able to catch him and bring him into my apartment. Since I had 2 other cats and a small dog. I put him in my spare bathroom with food, water, litter box and a box with lots of towels for a bed. The next day I asked around to see if any one knew where he came from. Of course you know the answer to that. I took him to my vet. My vet pronounced him to be in good health. So he had his shots, etc and came home. The vet did say he had pretty big ears and big feet. My boy grew and grew. As he grew he became more nervous and temperamental. Luckily he did get along with my other pets. After ripping my vet apart, we decided he would have to be sedated before any more visits. He developed irritable bowel syndrome and occasionally would spray. I was the only one that could handle him and at times I had problems with him. (biting and scratching). Mario grew to be 30# of solid muscle. I had him for 7 years before he developed osteosarcoma. Every vet, I had a few, said they thought he was a hybrid. I have told my story over and over. Wild or hybrid these cats do not make good pets. Mario was my boy. I stuck by him. Even held him during hurricane Andrew. He howled and shook for four hours. However if I had children, I never could have. kept him. Please pass my story along. Thanks. Jan Kelley
6 June 2007
Wild-domestic fashion pets sneaking past quarantine leaves native animals at risk Serval-cat “supercat” shouldn’t be let in without scrutiny A loophole in Australia’s biosecurity system means hybrid African Serval-domestic cat crosses can be imported into the country with no assessment of their potential to decimate native wildlife.
Chief Executive of the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre, Professor Tony Peacock, pointed out the loophole to the Quarantine and Biosecurity Review in Canberra today. “Hybrids of wild animals and domestic animals are a stupid American trend to breed more and more exotic pets” says Professor Peacock. “No one anticipated such animals when our quarantine laws were formulated, so we apply a definition that a fifth generation wild-domestic cross is legally a “domestic” animal and so escapes proper scrutiny”.
“Fourteen of these wild-cross cats are currently in quarantine on their way to Australia and have apparently passed all Federal requirements. We hope the Queensland Government will classify them Class 1 Pest Animals under State Legislation and ban them, but this sort of thing should be a Federal responsibility. An Adelaide breeder is advertising animals available in 2009”.
“This loophole will effectively lead to fitting a nuclear warhead to our already devastating feral cat population. So-called “Savannah cats” are more than double the size of domestic cats and can jump two metres from a standing start. Haven’t our native animals got enough to contend with?”
The practice of hybridising wild and domestic animals deserves much more scrutiny itself. An American breeder describes the issue on her own website:
…it can be extremely difficult to accomplish the Serval to domestic cat breeding. Whether it be the Serval male to the domestic female (which is most often the case), or to attempt a female Serval to a domestic male … because the Serval body type is so much longer and taller, this makes the pairing physically quite challenging. Add to that the differences in behavior between a wild cat and a domestic cat, and in some cases, too much aggression on the part of an intact adult Serval …
“I think anyone that forced a mating of an African Serval and a domestic cat in Australia would find themselves in serious discussion with animal welfare authorities” said Professor Peacock. “It is certainly a practice we shouldn’t condone by allowing people to import this new style of fashion animal. We need to update our quarantine rules to keep up with this exotic pet trend”.
The same loophole would allow a variety of hybrid cats and potentially wolf-dog hybrids if they pass disease regulations.
“The Quarantine and Biosecurity Review provides a great opportunity to point out anomalies that need attention. This issue has arisen from the practice of breeding new animals that did not exist when laws and regulations were framed.”
“Our native animals are at risk because of a fashionable desire to own an exotic pet. The impact on these vulnerable species will remain long after the fashion dies out” said Professor Peacock.
Fashion breeds of cat bred through mating wild cats:
“Bengal Cat” hybrid with Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis (SE Asia, 6.8 kg) (already in Australia)
“Savannah Cat” hybrid with Serval Leptailurus serval (Africa, 20 kg)
“Safari Cat” hybrid with Geoffroy’s cat Leopardus geoffroyi (S. America, 4 kg)
“Chausie” hybrid with Jungle Cat Felis chaus (Asia, 16 kg)
“Serengeti cat” Bengal cat/ Asian Short-haired cat hybrid
See Big Cat Rescue’s concerns: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiLAcEp5Vng
Prof Tony Peacock
Invasive Animals CRC
Ph: 0402 036 110
University of Canberra, Canberra ACT 2601
But What About An F4 Bengal Cat?
I’ve had my F4 Bengal, Lelu, for nine years, since she was about 15 weeks old. She was a rescue from a terrible breeder, who is thankfully no longer in business. After nearly a decade, I have some warnings for people looking to buy a hybrid cat:
1. HYBRID CATS ARE DESTRUCTIVE. No matter how well trained, no matter how sweet, they destroy things. I have to keep fragile knick knacks in locked china cases. Anything that is out has to be able to take the fall and not break, because she will knock it off whatever it is sitting on. She chews holes in mini blinds just to get a better view. If it is shaped like a pen or pencil, she will take it; this includes pulling straws out of drinks while you are holding them. If it has fur, leather, suede or feathers on it, she will attack it, drag it to her “den,” chew it to shreds, and usually pee on it for good measure. She steals shiny things, such as rings or bracelets, tears up vent covers, and drops the jewelry inside. I’ve done more to Lelu-proof my house than I ever had to do when my daughter was a baby.
2. HYBRID CATS WILL HAVE NIGH UNBREAKABLE HABITS. It took two years to break Lelu of the habit of nursing – sucking on my shirt, frequently in the middle of the night so I’d wake up with a giant cat drool spot. She yowls, constantly, louder than a Siamese, and nothing can make her stop. I had to learn to tune it out just so I could sleep or watch TV. She bites. She plays with water in the toilet – and will lift the lid if you close it so she can keep playing. I did manage to get her to use a scratching post (Lelu is NOT declawed), but it took years and a constant application of cat nip. Now, I cannot replace it – she will not accept a substitution. She guards the food – and maintains her place as alpha cat in the house violently if necessary. Fortunately, my other cat is perfectly comfortable letting her run the show.
3. HYBRID CATS WILL ATTACH TO ONE PERSON. While this may sound like a good thing, it can be a very bad one. Lelu is attached to me, which means that no matter where I am in the house or what I’m doing, she is there. If I am seated, she is in my lap, including at the dinner table. Pushing her down does no good – she never takes the hint. She will keep jumping into my lap, or she will dig her claws in to prevent being pushed off of me. She follows me into the bathroom, even gets in the shower with me. If I close a door to keep her out, she will actually rip chunks out of the door. When I leave the house, she yowls until a return. When I go on vacation, she won’t eat. If someone sits next to me on the couch, she will wiggle her way between us in order to establish her possession of me. She has attacked people who try to remove her from my lap. I would expect that if I ever gave her to another home, she would completely lose the thin veneer of domesticity she has.
4. HYBRID CATS RARELY GET ALONG WITH OTHER PETS. I have, through a great deal of patience and extremely slow integration over a period of months, managed to get Lelu to accept three additional pets, two other cats and a ferret. In each case, I had to have the new pet locked in one room for over a month, only bringing them together under supervision. Even still, Lelu is extremely territorial and possessive – she tolerates the other animals, but there is no real bond. She gets along best with my ferret, but I think that’s because my ferret is the only pet I have that can outrun her. It is also my understanding that the two of them getting along is highly unusual.
5. HYBRID CATS ARE NEUROTIC. Every Bengal I’ve ever seen or heard of has some sort of anxiety issues. Lelu, for example, stress grooms. The insides or her front legs are completely devoid of fur. If she’s under extreme stress, she will actually lick skin off until she bleeds.
6. HYBRID CATS ARE KILLERS. I have a dirt crawl space in my house, so I get mice, insects, even the occasional snake. Lelu kills them. She doesn’t play with them, she pounces, kills, and walks away. This is great for keeping my house pest free without chemicals, but not such a good habit when you bring a new baby pet home. She tried to kill a kitten I rescued from outside. I was helping to rehab a deformed chick hatchling from a class project, and she actually tore the latching cage top off the cage to get to the chick (fortunately I heard the noise and caught her in time). I watch very carefully when babies are around, too.
7. HYBRID CATS ARE SMART. Lelu can open any door she can get leverage or a grip on. Everything must lock or latch, or she will open it. She understands how to use mirrors to see around corners, and recognizes her own reflection vs. another cat’s. She actually uses the full length mirror in my bedroom to attack my other cats. She can and will open pill bottles that don’t have safety caps. She fishes cigarettes out of packs and eats them. She flushes toilets to watch the water run. She turns the stereo on and off to watch the lights flicker. Nothing is safe.
8. HYBRID CATS HAVE STRANGE HEALTH ISSUES. Lelu has a chronic cough; nothing gets rid of it or alleviates it. I’ve heard of bowel issues in Bengals, as well as neurological problems such as seizures or nervous tics. They also have strange reactions to normal veterinary medicines; you cannot take your hybrid to a regular veterinarian, you must take them to an exotic vet. Fortunately, I live near one of the best exotic pet clinics in the country. Lelu is allergic to flea bites. The one time she got fleas each bite turned into a huge weeping sore. When I got her spayed, she ripped the stitches out three times, two times by bending around the funnel collar, until there wasn’t enough flesh left to re-stitch. We had to pack the raged open wound with Neosporin to get it to heal. The scar is horrific.
In conclusion, I would say that it takes a very unusual person to keep a hybrid cat, and keep them well and happy. It’s similar to having a baby, except imagine the baby is deaf and will stay in their terrible twos for 15-20 years. I love my cat, and have not regretted any sacrifice I have made to give her a happy home. I will continue to own rescued hybrids – I know how to raise and care for them now, they fit with my personality and lifestyle, and so many need good homes that I could provide, I feel obligated to do what I can to help. But if you value your knick knacks, want a low maintenance pet, or just “like the look” of a hybrid, you need to NOT own one. They are, and will continue to be throughout their lives, wild animals. If what you want is a spotted cat, check out the ocicat breed – they are not hybrids.
Big Cat Rescue doesn’t believe big cats should be bred for life in cages, but for those who had the misfortune of being bred in captivity, we offer the best habitats (or cat-a-tats as we like to call them) in the world. Our cat-a-tats are large (ranging from 1200 square feet to 2.5 acres) and full of natural foliage and man made platforms and dens that were built to satisfy a curious cat’s every desire. Most of our enclosures are roofed and are built with curving walls that provide the structural strength so it can be hard, from a single vantage point, to see how large our enclosures really are. All of our tigers have pools that are kept fresh via our spring fed lake.
19 of our enclosures front on Tiger Lake. Intern housing at far left and 8 cages along the bank under the arrow.
Each enclosure consists of two or more sections that are connected by a guillotine door that is left open, unless we have to lock a cat out of an area to go in and clean. Each section will have a lockout for feeding and water, a den, and a place where the cat can perch. Each enclosure has a safety entrance that consists of a double door system and keyed padlocks on both the inner and outer doors. All guillotine doors can be operated from outside. Our newer cages have been built with double galvanized, 5 gauge, 4×4 panels that do not require painting. Our earlier cages were built of galvanized, 6 gauge, 4×4 panels that do require painting every so often. The paint we use is Rustoleum, which is a rust brown colored paint, so close examination shows the cages to be in excellent condition, despite the color.
This video shows you how the cats easily navigate their mazes of connected enclosures and tunnels.
This video shows how our open air enclosures are built. All open air enclosures have roofed sections attached in case of high winds.
Big Cat Enclosures
Big Cats Don’t Belong in Cages
No big cat belongs in a cage, but until we have better laws to protect exotic cats from being bred for lives of captivity and deprivation, we need to give them as much space and privacy as possible. In their wild their territories would measure in square miles, not square feet, so even at its best a cage is nothing more than a jail cell.
Since all exotic cats, no matter how early they are neutered or spayed, spray bucket loads of urine all day you will want to provide an outdoor cage. Because we have so many cats we have many varieties of cages depending on the cats’ needs. We will begin with our favorite cages and proceed down to our minimum cages. USDA only requires that the animal be able to stand up and turn around in the pen and that it be clean. Some states have minimum size standards but they, like the USDA’s standards, are nothing short of cruel and inhumane. In Florida, a 600 pound, twelve foot long Siberian Tiger may be kept in a 10 foot by twenty four foot pen, and too many people do. Different cats have different needs, but ALL cats need the room and inspiration to be cats.
To successfully cage a cat you should understand his natural behaviors to most closely provide what he needs and to most safely confine him. Although individuals of several species may prowl by day, exotic cats are typically nocturnal. Except for Cheetahs, Lions and Tigers, the exotic feline is an exceptional climber. Servals and Caracals can climb well, but need incentive to do so. Margay, Ocelots and Leopards spend more time lounging in the trees than on the ground. Bobcats, Jungle Cats, Geoffrey Cats and all of the Lynxes are very active and are in and out of everything, all the time.
All cats swim if necessity demands it but Jaguars, Tigers, Servals and Fishing Cats live for it. Fishing cats and Servals will dive underwater for their food and although Tigers will dive, they usually prefer to “dog paddle” or just splash around in the water. Water loving cats will not be happy without a pool.
The behaviour of an exotic cat can be likened to that of the domestic cat on speed. All of this is said to prepare you to look around your home and envision the outdoor run as seen through the half crazed eyes of the exotic of your choice. The “tamed” wild cat does not discern between a tree and a hanging plant, or between vines and curtain rods. Your bubble bath or the fish tank are just as suitable “swimming holes” as a lake or stream. Exotic Cats urinate in the water, so you won’t want to leave dishes in the sink.
If you are building an enclosure for a pet that you have raised and who now is spraying everything in sight, the best option for the cat is an outdoor one that is at least 1200 square feet in size. The fencing should be twelve feet tall and made of six gauge chain welded cattle panels and completely roofed.
In these yards should be kiddie toys including wading pools, plastic forts, igloos, balls and safe shrubbery. Obviously, none of these plastic items are to be left unattended with the great cats. Except for the shrubbery everything else must be cleaned and disinfected regularly (like daily). A pool is great fun but a lot of work. It MUST be changed daily. Even the dirt will need “cleaning” and by this I mean that you will need to walk the yard daily and pick up feces, and on occasion you may need to lock the cats in the house for a few days and dust the yard with lime. Don’t return the cats to the dusted yard until after it has been washed off of the grass and leaves and into the soil.
We used to treat the cat yards twice a month for fleas, alternating between Bio-Halt Flea Nematodes and Sevin Dust 10 percent. Since our cats have been on Advantage this has not been necessary. We don’t mow the yard very often because the cats seem to really enjoy the jungle effect. Your neighbors may not share your appreciation of a Congo styled lawn scape, and this is something to consider. Keeping your neighbors happy can be what keeps you happy and this usually requires that they not be able to see, hear or smell your cats. In most cases you will be better off if they don’t even know about your cats. Having them for the purpose of showing off to your friends will probably mean that you will be asked to move or euthanize the pet one day.
For our Tigers we have a three acre pen that leads down into a spring fed lake. The fencing is 16 feet tall, six gauge (sometimes 5 gauge), four by six inch square welded wire. This pen has two eight foot square, concrete dens, and a safety pen for hurricanes, or so we can lock them up while cleaning their acreage. The safety pen is where we feed the cats so that they are accustomed to going inside. It is 900 square feet, with a top. When we clean the pen we coax them into the safety pen and shut them inside until we are finished. The safety pen must have a door that can be operated from outside. The safety pen and the safety gate are two separate enclosures. To include part of the lake in the Tiger pen we had to hire a dock and deck company to install the posts out in the water because it was fourteen feet deep in places. We hung the fence from the posts and attached shade cloth over that so that the cats would not swim out and hang on the wire. Inside the pen are stainless steel beer kegs, bowling balls (with the holes filled in) for toys and lots of shrubbery, initially… Palmettos are virtually indestructible and the yard was covered with them, but in just a few months they were trampled beyond recognition. We thought over an acre per Tiger would more than accommodate two yearling Tigers, but the foliage proves otherwise. The trees are all still standing but it was an established forest.
Most of our cages are 12 to 16 feet tall with a roof. They are built around trees so that the cats can get up into the lower branches. Their concrete den, which is eight feet by twelve feet, by 2 feet high and is covered with concrete to look like rock and earth for insulation so that they look like hills in each cage.Our Leopards have pens that are more than 1200 square feet per cat and twelve feet high.
We were fortunate enough to fall into a once in a lifetime deal in which we were able to purchase thirty three acres of concrete platforms. These platforms stand two feet off the ground on their own legs and come in eight foot, ten foot and twelve foot widths. They are all eight feet long and can be stacked side by side. These would not be cost efficient to build, but many people pour concrete slabs on the ground with a slope to the outside and a gutter to guide waste water to a septic system.
All of the pens have at trees, shelves or logs elevated for lounging on. We suspend natural cat-walks with chain from the top of the pen, at different levels, so that the feline has much more running space and to encourage exercising by jumping from one cat-walk to another. We also hang hammocks made of natural fibers for their lounging pleasure.
Each cage has a toy called the ” Nearly Indestructible Ball” in a size relevant to the size of the cat and a variety of large bleached cow bones. A cat can easily get stir crazy in a static environment, so it is important to always be offering something different to smell, taste or touch. Cats like having their own space and enjoy marking it and letting others know that it is theirs, but they also enjoy new things. Just like human children, they enjoy playing with the box the toy came in more than with the toy itself. Cut a few holes in the box and it’s good entertainment for a day or two. Oddly enough, the biggest thrill you can give most cats is a pile of cut branches. Check your poisonous plant list first and then your yard trimmings can provide hours of fun and exercise.
The entry door to the pen should be wide enough to accommodate your carriers or catch pens and tall enough for you to walk in without stooping. We use 4 snap hooks to keep them shut and a lock. You should also attach a safety gate to your entry gate. This is a small cage that you open the gate and walk into, and then shut the gate behind you before opening the gate to the pen. It should be large enough to accommodate two people and a large carrier or a wheel barrow, without having both doors open. At any juncture where you will be handling a latch or accessing a food or water dish, we would recommend that you cover the adjoining area with a small mesh wire. It can be very hard to fumble with a latch and keep your eyes on the cat at the same time. This is more necessary in the case where a cat has his claws. Even if the existing wire is too small for the entire paw to fit through, just one hook of their razor sharp claws could take off a finger.
We do not recommend adjoining cages that share a common wall. Often cats that like each other have been known to suffer a nasty bite for sticking their extremities through the wire. We saw a gorgeous black Leopard once whose tail had been so badly mauled that it had to be amputated.
Privacy can be as important as space. If at all possible provide lush foliage as a visual screen between animals. Space the cats as far apart as is practical. They are solitary creatures, except for the Lions, and really appreciate their own territory. Even most lions that you may end up caring for were probably single pets and will not want to be kept in cages with other lions.
Our cages are truly cat-a-tats, but because they are on the ground, the cats must be wormed monthly here and probably at least quarterly in colder climates.
For open top pens we use a double row of hot wire that is powered by a solar unit that can withstand three days of total darkness, and this has proved successful in keeping lions and tigers in place.
Big Cat Enclosures at Big Cat Rescue
Below are the new cage designs Vernon Stairs implemented. They are constructed of 6 gauge, galvanized, welded wire panels, twelve feet high, with roofs and are all in excess of 900 square feet and most in excess of 1200 square feet and many in excess of 2400 square feet. They all have safety entrances and are designed to shut off one half of the cage at a time so that the volunteers can safely clean one side with the cat locked out and then shift the cat to the other side to clean the remainder.
They all incorporate feed boxes with built in water dishes in which the cats can be shut to medicate, vaccinate or the whole unit can be removed as a transport cage to go to the vet or to evacuate in a hurricane. The water dishes are elevated to keep the cats from relieving themselves in the drinking water (as they will do).
Each cage has a sprinkler system and an underground, plastic den. The den is easy to clean and insulated against the elements. Each cage is heavily landscaped and has logs, trees, toys and perches to give the cat’s a feeling of safety.
This is one of our leopard cages and it is over 2400 square feet of floor space and is over twenty feet high as it encircles this tree. (Notice the silhouette of the black leopard, Jumanji in the center branches) This cage is typical of our leopard and cougar cages and includes all of the features outlined above. You can see the wire in the distant back ground and the white door to his feeding area. This photo was taken from safely outside the cage, but due to the four by four openings the shot can look as though you were inside.
The cage at right is the Snow Leopard cage when it was being built and includes a freezer box den that is air-conditioned and cleverly disguised as snowy rock covered ledges. The cats can lay in the cool of their dens and look out at passerby’s. The curvature of the wire makes posts and support beam unnecessary once the cage is completed and enables the viewer to focus on the animal and not on the cage.
Across the top you can see the wire supports used to bridge the 20 feet spanning the roofs. Note the full size ladder in the background to get a feel for the size of the cage. The rock work is concrete over metal lathe. In some cages the rock work has waterfalls, dripping down into fish filled ponds.
Many of our Cat-A-Tats include ponds and waterfalls. All of our many tigers have pools, ponds and waterfalls as did the Fishing Cats.
With a donation of $10,000.00, earmarked for cage construction, you can have a sign placed on the cage telling the world that you helped build the Cat-A-Tat. This is great advertising for your business or corporation and greatly helps these magnificent cats.
Here is where we get the only hog ring pliers that work: http://www.reddenmarine.com/pacific-mako-9000-wf-555-0-hog-ring-pliers.html
Lions and Tigers
240 square feet
1200- 136,000 sf
Leopards, Jaguars, Cougars
200 square feet
1200-6000 square feet
Lesser cats (Lynx, etc.)
72 square feet
1200-2400 square feet
Small cats (hybrid cats, etc.)
36 square feet
1000 -2000 square feet
USDA only requires that the cage be large enough for the animal to stand up and turnaround in and a lot of states use the USDA standard rather than set standards of their own.
When you visit the zoo and see those magnificent million dollar enclosures, what you don’t see are all the animals in tiny, off exhibit cages. If animals must live in captivity, the least we can do is make them comfortable.