Now at Big Cat Rescue March 18 2014

Now at Big Cat Rescue March 18 2014

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The REAL Money is in Bequests


If you are operating an animal rescue shelter or sanctuary then you know that the real money is in bequests. What is harder to determine is how to receive bequests.

In part it is a numbers game and the more people who know about your wonderful work then the greater the chances that you will be remembered in their wills, but there is a way to maximize your potential for being the beneficiary of an estate:


Make a Difference


Tigers Shere Khan China Doll - 4

The shelter or sanctuary has probably figured out that the public loves a good rescue story and will line up around the block to donate to a starving cat, or to get an abused lion or tiger out of the circus. In the case of exotic cats there are tens of thousands in need of rescue, and in the case of domestic cats, there are millions who need help.

This creates a “buyers market” for those who want the instant gratification of donating to an organization that will rush in to the aid of the animal. Because there are so many “feel good” opportunities, that donor base can be quite fickle and if you are behaving in a responsible manner and not over crowding or over loading your resources, you will soon find that donors have moved on to someone who will.

In the end though, as a person reflects back over their life, and asks themselves what they did with it, matters come into sharper focus when thrill seeking is no longer the objective. They start to think about the good they have done and how the world will be a better place. They may discover, over time, that the places they funded did finally implode under the weight of taking on too many animals. That leaves them questioning what lasting good they did.

If there are organizations they gave to, who used the money wisely, rescued when they could and said, “no,” when they had to, those are the ones who will be considered further. There may have been several such groups, some animal related and others perhaps human oriented, so the further investigation reveals who did the most with what they had?

Did the non profit cure cancer, end hunger, stop the deaths of animals in shelters, put an end to the use of wild animals in circuses, end the feline fur trade, save wild places for wild animals or stop the exploitation of wild cats in captivity? If not, how successful were they and would this final gift be the boost to get them across that finish line?

That’s what donors want to know in their final hours.

Howard Baskin, CFO of Big Cat Rescue recently reported that, “the estate left to the sanctuary is over $300,000. from a person who had only donated $50. during their lifetime.” This non profit sanctuary in Tampa never courted this donor and the only contact with her was likely to have been a thank you note for her modest donation and a quarterly newsletter called The Big Cat Times. There were others in her will, but none given more than Big Cat Rescue, so it’s clear that she knew her money would be well spent.

What sets Big Cat Rescue apart from most other sanctuaries is that it is the leading sanctuary voice against keeping big cats in cages. Their mission is: Caring for cats – Ending the trade. This donor, and several other very generous donors, have committed in their final hours to being a part of that mission.

That mission makes Big Cat Rescue a target for harassment and smear campaigns by those who abuse big cats for profit or ego, but donors understand that if the bad guys don’t hate you, then you aren’t doing anything important.

Shelters and sanctuaries often shrink from advocacy to end abuse because they fear retaliation from those evil enough to abuse animals or they say they don’t want to be “political” but the real money ends up going to those who are putting themselves on the line to make a difference.

That money makes a difference, and making a difference is what most of us want in the end.

March for Lions Kids

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For Adults, go to

Here is a collection of goodies for kids to celebrate the March For Lions event.  Getting children excited about and involved in saving big cats and wild life in general is very important so why not make it fun for them to participate.

Kids Lion Stationery

Your are never too young to be a voice for animals.  Here is something for kids to use to make a difference.  Kids can write a letter asking lawmakers asking for laws to stop letting people play with baby lions. Below are seven different versions of Kids’ Lion Stationery. Click on one of them and wait for the fill size version to completely load in your browser before printing it. OR, you can right click on the one you like and choose to “Save Targeted File” to download the stationery to your computer for later printing.

Make a Lion Cookie Box

(Featuring Cameron, Joseph, & Nikita) Click on a thumbnail below to get the pull size version. each cookie box is around1 mb or larger so please give the full size image time to fully load before printing it.  OR, you can right click on the one you like and choose to “Save Targeted File” to download the stationery to your computer for later printing. Print, Cut out, Fold, Tape or glue, Let Dry, and add a cookie to your gift box.

Lion Word Scramble Game

Click on the thumbnail below to load the full sized version in your browser.  Wait for the page to fully load before printing. OR, you can right click on it and choose to “Save Targeted File” to download the stationery to your computer for later printing.

March For Lions Bracelets

Featuring Photos of Cameron, Joseph, & Nikita – Print on white card stock, cut out,  wrap about child’s wrist and tape the ends together.  You can trim off the parts that are too long. Click on a small picture below to open the bracelet full size.  Wait for the bracelet to fully load in your browser then print it.  OR, you can right click on it and choose to “Save Targeted File” to download the bracelet to your computer for later printing.

4C 4D 5 5B 5C 5D 6 6B 6Bsmall 6C 6D 7 7B 7C 7D

Telling Time Worksheets

Telling time practice worksheets to print.   Click on a small picture below to open the full size worksheet.  Wait for the page to fully load in your browser then print it.  OR, you can right click on it and choose to “Save Targeted File” to download the worksheet to your computer for later printing.

Lion Door Hanger

Door hangers to print, cut out and hang on your door knob.  There are two per sheet.  Click on a small picture below to open the door hangers full size.  Wait for the page to fully load in your browser then print it.  OR, you can right click on it and choose to “Save Targeted File” to download the doorhangers to your computer for later printing.

Match Cats to Their Species Game

How well do you know the cats that live at Big Cat Rescue. See if you can match the cats’ names to the right species. Click on the thumbnail below to see it full size.  Wait for the full size version to fully load in your browser before printing.

Maze Game – Help The Lion Escape to Freedom

Find the correct path to help the lion escape to freedom. Click on the thumbnail below to see it full size.  Wait for the full size version to fully load in your browser before printing.

 What Do You See?   I See a Lion, a Tiger, and a Monkey


Willy Wizard sends your child off on a reading adventure to see a lion, a monkey, and a tiger.   Bright colorful cartoon graphics and big color photos or real lions and tigers. Children will learn about:  The colors green, red, blue and purple. They will learn about lions, tigers, and sharing.  They will learn that reading is fun and funny.  They will enjoy the rhyming and humor.  You might even get a chuckle or two while reading this to younger children.

Get the FREE iBook for iPads from iTunes   Get the FREE PDF version

Your feedback is valued.

Feel free to leave your comments below.  We are interested in knowing what you did or did not like and what suggestions you might have.

Feeding Kittens and Cubs

Feeding Kittens and Cubs

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Feeding Wild Cat Kittens and Cubs


There is no substitute that is as good as a cat’s own mother. Big Cat Rescue has evolved since its inception in 1992. By 1997 we had seen enough of the abuse and abandonment caused by the pet trade that we had previously engaged in to know that there was no reason to breed exotic animals for lives in cages. As a result we increased our efforts through spaying, neutering and cage building to ensure that we would no longer be a part of the problem. As we have continued to learn about the causes of so much suffering we have become active in stopping the exotic pet trade through education and legislation.  The following is provided only for those who have already made the mistake of supporting the pet trade so that the animal in your care does not suffer even more after being ripped from his mother.

For Cougars and larger, we use a baby bottle, with a preemie nipple if they are very small. For smaller cats we use a little 2 oz. pet nurser from Pet-Ag, but we have to special order a gross of the longer, pointed nipples called N -30 Veterinarian N ipples from Four Paws at Central Islip , N ew York 11722 . Most of these nipples do not have holes in them and getting the right hole size is so important that you will probably throw away more nipples than you actually use. The object is to make the hole large enough that when you turn the bottle upside down it drips out slowly. The little things you use to hold corn on the cob are great for burning the hole into the nipple. The prongs are just about the perfect size and the little handle gives you something to hold on to. Heat a burner and then hold the metal prong to the flame or coil until it glows orange. Poke the glowing prong through the nipple and let it cool before trying it out. If the milk flows too quickly the cub will choke and if it flows too slowly the cub will tire before he can finish his meal. An alternative to the corn cob thing is a hypodermic needle and syringe. The syringe works as a good handle and the needle can be heated the same way, only it does not seem to retain the heat long and you may have to make several attempts. Human baby bottles usually have the holes cut already and they are usually sufficient, but check first. If your cub has teeth, you may wish to use the hard rubber juice nipples.


You should boil the bottle and nipple (take it apart first) before filling it at each meal. As soon as the cub finishes his meal we dump and rinse the bottle and drop it into a pail of bleach water to soak until the next feeding, at which time we will wash with soap and a bottle brush, before boiling. Pour about a quarter more formula than you think your kitten will drink, because sometimes they surprise you and if they stop nursing for you to refill, it can be difficult or impossible to restart them.

After filling the bottle and putting the nipple assembly back on, set it in the pot of hot water to warm the milk to about 100 degrees, until it is just warm to the wrist. The outside heats faster so slosh it around and ALWAYS test it on yourself before offering it to a cub. Sometimes they are so hungry that they will slurp down half a bottle of very hot liquid and scald the insides of their stomachs. We take a coffee cup of the hot water with us to the area where we will feed, so that we can occasionally rewarm, during the meal. Once the milk has been warmed for the kitten do not try to save it for a later feeding. When a kitten is fussy and doesn’t want to eat, it is easy to reason that the milk “wasn’t out that long” and try to avoid the bleaching, washing, boiling and re-filling process. N O MATTER WHAT, DO N OT RE-USE MILK OR THE BOTTLE, without going through the entire sterilization. N o amount of money or time saved will be worth the consequences.

It is easiest for me to sit at a table while feeding, but some like to have the cub in their lap. Whatever the surface, it should be easily cleaned and comfortable for the both of you. Put the kitten in a position tummy down, with all four feet on the table or lap. If you are right handed, use your left hand to hold the kitten’s head up and forward. As the kitten nurses it will pull itself forward, resulting in the neck bending backward, resulting in the milk having a straight shot down the wind pipe. This can cause the cub to choke, so you will need to keep the face pulled forward of the chest. This cub was not a resident of Big Cat Rescue, but is shown to illustrate the proper positioning.

With your right hand, grasp the bottle firmly near the nipple ring with your thumb and index finger. Guide to the lips and just barely touch them. Sometimes this will cause an involuntary sucking response and you can slide the nipple right in. This response diminishes almost entirely before three weeks, so you may need to acquire a little more dexterity. Using the remaining three fingers on your right hand, try to softly guide the kitten’s mouth toward the nipple. You may even have to press slightly at the jaw joint with your middle finger and then substitute the nipple in the corner. Once the nipple is in the mouth, half your battle is won and now you can concentrate on trying to get the nipple around to the front of the mouth and in between the canine teeth. One trick that has helped us greatly is to slide the left hand up and over the eyes, and wrap the thumb around the face, as if to muzzle the cat with your hand from behind. The lack of outside stimulus helps the kit concentrate on eating. Gently stroking the side of the mouth will stimulate the sucking response. If you are feeding more than one kitten, do not let anyone down to play until all have eaten.

For the first twenty four to thirty six hours we only offer a mixture of purified water, electrolyte solution and a little 50% dextrose for added energy, in a pet nurser for lynxes and smaller, and in a baby bottle for cougars and larger. You should wait for the merconium, or the first stool, to be passed before offering any formula to the cub if he has been taken at birth. A kitten won’t starve to death in the first day and a half without milk, but it must get plenty of fluids. A bacteria imbalance in the intestines can cause mal-absorption and diarrhea and if not corrected immediately can kill the cub. The water mixture for the first few feedings will help eliminate the mother’s milk from the intestines and give the flora the chance to stabilize before the introduction of new milk. The new milk should be added VERY gradually. Watch the stool after each feeding to determine whether or not more milk should be added to the water mixture at the next feeding. As long as the stool is yellow and of at least toothpaste consistency, and has no sign of blood, mucous, chunks of undigested food or traces of green then you are probably on the right track. By the third day you should be up to 50% milk and 50% water mixture and do not increase the proportion of milk for at least a week.

It can be very tempting to increase the mixture or change the mixture abruptly and then reason to yourself that it was okay, because the cub ate it, but a couple of days later when the kitten is refusing to eat anything you offer, it is too late and the damage has been done. Once you have upset the bacterial balance in the intestines, you have set yourself and your cub up for disaster. Some of the signs that a kit is in bacterial induced distress are: drooling, nursing and then making a face like the milk was sour (when you know it isn’t), eating less at each feeding and acting cranky like he is hungry but won’t eat.

How often you feed depends on the age, size, breed and individual needs of the cub you are raising. Your kitten will let you know by it’s growth rate, stool formation, and attitude what kind of a schedule it needs. The perfect schedule is one that most closely resembles that of it’s mother. In the wild a mother cat gorges herself before kittening so that she can remain in the den with her new young for several days with no need of leaving for food. The placenta and afterbirth she consumes are concentrated protein and calories she will need to remain close to her young. By the third or fourth day, she will leave only long enough to eat and drink, and the rest of the time she is laying with, suckling and cleaning her cubs. Kittens expect this and deserve this and it is our obligation to make their transition as smooth as possible. N o matter how old the kitten is when we pull it, we offer food and cleaning and cuddling every two hours for the first two days.

The following is strictly a guide and is too much or too little in individual cases: Formula required is 15-20% of the kitten’s body weight, divided into the number of feedings per day and offered as follows:

Age in Weeks Feeding Intervals and Food Stages

0-2 weeks every two hours, formula diluted with unflavored electrolytes

3-4 weeks every four hours, add strained baby chicken or turkey or A/D

4-6 weeks every five hours, sleep through the night. More solids/less milk.

6-12 weeks morning, noon and night. Remove milk entirely.

over one year nightly (6 days per week) Well balanced meals and vitamins.

A novel little trick to help you get up every two hours through the night: While feeding your kit, drink a glass of water. It is great for your health and in two hours nature will awake you without the necessity of an alarm clock waking the both of you.

Too often, the Novice caretaker will assume that their kitten is ready to go further between meals, when the kitten begins refusing the bottle. This is an easy assumption to make when you are sick of getting up every two hours day in and day out to feed a kitten who isn’t acting hungry. If your baby is usually active and feisty and then suddenly becomes, as gentle as a lamb, then he may be ailing. You must take the entire picture into account before assuming that your cub is ready to go longer between meals. Refusal to eat an entire meal may be the first obvious clue that the kitten is ailing and allowing the cub to worsen and not be kept fully hydrated can be disastrous. NEVER have we seen a kitten refuse a meal, and then eat well at the next one, although it may be some better than the first “food fight”. Do not be fooled into thinking that the situation will rectify itself, because it won’t, and by the time you resign yourself to take the cat to the Veterinarian, it may already be dehydrated, stressed and overloaded with bacteria. See Bacterial Overgrowth.



mountain lion cub sleepingWEIGH YOUR KITTENS! Use a gram scale or an ounce scale that measures in no less than tenths of ounces. In a small cat, Bobcats, Servals, Caracals, etc. a weight loss of one half of one ounce can be the red flag that if noticed will save the kitten, and if overlooked, may well lead to it’s near immediate demise. Weigh at the same time every day and in the same manner, with preference being given to that early morning, before I’ve eaten time. Keep a log of the weight, the date, the kittens age, and at each meal how much formula or food was consumed (in tablespoons, cc’s, ml’s or ounces) and the quality and quantity of urine and the colour, consistency and frequency of stool. An exotic can be dead within twenty four hours of the first good strong clue they give us that they are in distress. Only by monitoring and taking seriously the subtle changes in all of the factors listed above will you have any hope of catching a problem in time. Your well kept charts will help your Veterinarian in diagnosis and will give them much more insight to the cat’s health. If you ever raise another kitten, then this information to refer back to will become invaluable. See Figure ____ for a sample of the type of chart we use.


Date :_________________

Weight :_______________

6:00 a.m.

10:00 a.m.

2:00 p.m.

6:00 p.m.

10:00 p.m.






Breed :___________________ Age :________________________

Date of Birth ______________ Name :______________________


When the kitten is first taken from it’s mother a weight loss for the first day or two is expected and normal, because at our best, humans can only fall short of the natural milk and mothering provided by the cat. As long as the loss does not persist past the second day and is not more than 10% of the kittens initial body weight, there is no immediate cause for alarm. Check the kitten for fleas and ticks and ear mites which can quickly deplete a small cub of it’s life-sustaining blood. Use a flea comb to remove fleas. Wipe the comb with alcohol or a safe for kittens, flea spray and wipe with a towel to remove the excess. This will stun the fleas briefly so that you can pick them off. Few people can kill a flea with their bare hands, so have ready a cup of soapy water (use a safe soap) to rinse the comb in. Fleas can swim in tap water and while you’re picking off the next flea, they will be swimming to the edge of the cup and jumping back on the kit. If the water is soapy they can’t seem to get a grip on the sides of the cup. Even though most commercial flea shampoos say that they are safe for kittens, they don’t mean purebred or exotic kittens. Several years ago, one of my best friends (a five year old Himalayan) died from a toxic reaction to a well known flea shampoo available in any grocery store and when I complained to the company they said that they couldn’t guarantee the results on a purebred cat. N o where on the label was there any warning that it could be hazardous to specialized felines. Often Veterinarians will sell flea dips and shampoos to owners of exotic cats without any knowledge of the effect it may have on their systems. For this reason, unless fleas have reached epidemic proportions, we prefer to comb and drown. No cat was ever combed to death and this is great bonding time for you.

Take the first stool sample that you get in to a Veterinarian for analysis. Worms and parasites, such as coccidia can rob the young one of all of the nutrients it takes in, so while it may seem to be nursing frantically, it won’t be able to maintain it’s weight or gain. You cannot always tell when a kitten has worms by his appearance, but some tell tale signs are: Dullness in the eyes, a ragged, dull coat, very thin, or bloated with skinny legs or vomiting. Make a habit of taking in at least one stool sample per week to catch any early traces of worms or bacterial overgrowth. The oocyts only show up in the stool during certain stages of the parasite’s life, so a clean stool check is no guarantee that trouble isn’t festering. We worm with a mild formula such as Nemex or Pyrantel Pamoate whether we see worms or not, and whether the parents were wormed or not. If the parents had been wormed and no sign of worms is found in the kittens stool, then we worm at three weeks, once a day for three days and then once a week for three weeks and then quarterly for life. If we don’t know the status on the parents, or if we see worms in the stool, then we worm immediately once a day for three days, then again at three weeks, four weeks and five weeks and then quarterly for life. By the time they are six months old we move on to a stronger wormer, such as ivermectin and inject it into a treat or give it to them orally. Worming is such a common thing that it is often overlooked and parasites could be starving your cub to death, right under your nose. After the first couple days away from the Dam, the cub should ALWAYS gain or maintain it’s weight. N o loss is acceptable or normal.

The urine should be clear to light yellow and should not sting or burn the kitten. If the kitten screams when he relieves himself, then it is burning. If the genital area is raw, red or fur-less, then the urine is burning the cub. For the first three weeks the cub will need you to stimulate him to urinate and defecate. The muscles of a kitten are too weak and undeveloped in these first few weeks for them to be able to control their bowel movements. After eating, take a warm, wet wash cloth and gently massage the abdomen and genital areas. You will soon learn to feel a full bladder, like a hard rubber ball, which sometimes needs to be tended to before the kit can comfortably nurse. Instead of a rag we often use human type baby wipes that are Hypoallergenic and contain aloe or lanolin to keep the skin soft and protected. These need to be warmed before using on the kit as they tend to feel cold right out of the box.

Some thought should be given to your cubs’ den. Depending on the type of cat, it may grow very quickly and may need a succession of dens to accommodate him. Many people keep kittens in carriers, but it needs to have a raised wire mesh floor so that the kitten is not forced to lay in it’s own urine. Thick towels are a poor substitute, because any mess made on the towel will be rolled in by the kitten. Kittens don’t have the mental capacity, or in some cases the motor ability to soil one area and then crawl to a drier area. Any mess a kitten makes will be all over the kitten in no time at all, unless you have provided a goof proof enclosure. Exotic kittens produce a fantastic volume of urine and their den should be made with this in mind. If the urine is scarce or dark yellow it could indicate kidney failure and immediate Veterinary attention is required. If the urine stings, it is usually from rawness caused by diarrhea.

Diarrhea can deplete the cub of vital fluids, leaving him dehydrated and lifeless. A healthy kitten’s stool should be yellow if the cub is on formula and should have the consistency of toothpaste. It should not be foul smelling, watery, mucous laden, blood stained, green or hard. A kitten on food should have a brown to brownish black stool of firm consistency. The frequency of stool is an individual matter. There should not be more than one stool per feeding, but less is normal. We’ve had healthy kittens that only had two bowel movements per day and as long as the colour and consistency are okay there is no cause for alarm.


Stool                 Characteristic                      Indications                  Remedy

Yellow,             runny                                     Formula too rich       Dilute formula

Watery             Malabsorption                     Dilute Formula          See Veterinarian

Green Bile       Malabsorption                     Kaopectate                  See Veterinarian

Mucous            Infection or worms             Antibiotics                   See Veterinarian

Undigested      Intestines not working      Balance flora               See Veterinarian

Hard, dark       May be blood from worm damage                       Worm appropriately

Not enough fluids being given. Increase fluids See your Veterinarian

Blood stained      Intestinal bleeding                                                See your Veterinarian

Diarrhea            Many causes                                                              See your Veterinarian


Any of these signs can be reason enough to take your kitten to a good Veterinarian for a professional analysis. In most cases your kitten will get sick five minutes after your Veterinarian leaves for a three day weekend in the Bahamas . As a temporary measure you can help a kitten with diarrhea by giving 3-5 cc of Kaopectate with every feeding. This will help coat the intestines so that they are not stripped raw in the interim. It also helps to keep the anus from becoming so raw that the cub cries in pain while trying to relieve itself. Put diaper rash ointment on the genitals to help dissipate the burning. Whatever you are feeding, cut the strength with Pediatric Electrolyte Solution to keep the kitten hydrated. Taste the unflavored Pedialyte before expecting your kitten to. Walgreens has a store label that is actually flavorless and acceptable to kittens. Pedialyte taste horrid and it is no wonder that cubs won’t drink it, but it is the most commonly available form of electrolytes and will do in a pinch. You can find it in pint jugs in the baby department, next to the formulas. For the most part, cats won’t drink anything that is fruit or bubble gum flavored. Sometimes when a kitten is sick, it will accept pure water from a bottle or syringe, when it won’t accept food. In an emergency you can tube feed the cub, but a common problem in exotic kittens is bacterial overgrowth in the intestines and even though you may be able to force food into the stomach, you cannot force the intestines to absorb it properly and you may cause the kitten to bloat and die. If the stool is mucousy, has chunks of undigested materials in it, watery or blood stained it may be better if you have to force fluids to only force Electrolytes, such as Pedialyte or pure water, until you can get your kitten to the hospital.

If you detect any sneezing, coughing, wheezing, runny nose or runny eyes it is very serious and demands the attention of a licensed Veterinarian. I know how expensive it can be to run a cat to the Veterinarian at every little indication. We spend between $15,000.00 to $22,000.00 per year in medical bills, but to fail to get an early and proper diagnosis will cost you much more financially and in the health of the cat.


Note: I am not a veterinarian. If your cat is bleeding get him to a licensed veterinarian immediately.

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Giving an Exotic Cat a Pill



Giving a cat a pill can be a harrowing experience for both you and the cat. Exotic cats are worse because they are not as trusting, have a keener sense of smell and are more powerful. As with any aspect of exotic cat ownership, you must rely on your higher intelligence rather than brute force if you are to succeed. While it may be physically possible for you and all of your closest friends to tackle the cat and force a pill down his throat, this sort of force destroys any trust the two of you may enjoy and will not be forgiven for months or even years.

When we first dealt with sick exotic kittens we would catch the cat and restrain it by the scruff on the floor, so that it could only back into our knees and we could hold the rest of the kitten by squatting over him. An exotic cat can be scruffed and turn completely around inside their loosely fitting “pajamas” and bite the person holding. They can also jump and twist until they seriously injure themselves. This is why we grabbed as much scruff as we could (taking up all the slack possible) and then knelt down over the cat holding him between our knees on the floor.

Just try giving me a pill!The other person would have the pill inserted in a pill gun ( a pencil like apparatus that holds the pill until you press the plunger ) and the kitten would be hissing and snapping at the air, making the insertion of the “gun” into the mouth pretty easy. We would insert it as far back as we could see and depress the plunger. Using the plunger we would then gently stroke the cat under the chin and blow at his face until we saw him swallow.

When he would lick his lips the deed was known to be done. I go into detail on the hard way just in case you find yourself with no option. We always try to use a drug that requires as few doses as possible, for obvious reasons.

No matter how difficult it may be to medicate the cat, it is imperative that every dose be administered, because failure to do so can be fatal to the cat, if not now perhaps at a later time. To stop and start treatment over and over will cause the cat to become immune to the drug.

Most drug therapy runs a course of twice a day for ten days and by the second dose the cat is hiding from you and hissing at you every time you look in his direction. All of your training has come to an end. The cat is sure that you are out to kill him and that he has only barely escaped you twice. Even if you do manage to get all twenty doses in the cat and he recovers, it may take a very long time to make any personal progress with him.

We had a lot of kittens our first year and most of them forgave us within a month or two, but one, Little Dove was terrified of us for over a year and a half. We finally sold her to a pet home thinking that maybe she would not associate her new owners with medication, but several weeks later they called to say that she really hated them and had even escaped and been on the lam for a week.

They were able to recapture her in a barn and shipped her back to us. When she got back she talked until she was hoarse, as though she was telling me every moment of her time away. I cried at hearing the terror in her tale. Her bad time with inexperienced “doctors” made her a “pet” only a mother could love and to avoid the possibility of this happening to you it will be well worth your time to exhaust every other possible method.

Our favorite method is to hide the pill in a piece of food. Without exception, all of our cats adore chicken hearts and chicken gizzards. When it is time to medicate we do so at regular feeding times, so that the cat doesn’t know there is something weird going on.

A chicken heart is the perfect little pill container. It is slick and has a little hole pocket already cut in it. We will throw one or two without pills, so that if the cat is going to chew around looking for a pill that he will see there are none, and then when he’s swallowing them whole, we throw in the one with the pill.

If the cat is very sick he may quickly get nauseous, so don’t let him get full before he gets the medicated pill. Bring along a few extra hearts in case he chews the pill out and you have to stick it in another one. If the cat is running loose and you need to pill him but he gets crazy over food, we put the pile of medicated treats and unmedicated treats on a paper plate or a long handled spoon with the top ones being the bogus ones. Unless the cat was allowed to get too sick before treatment started he will usually inhale the treats without ever chewing.


Second only to hearts for usability are the gizzards. Because they are so chewy and the chewing will result in the cat biting into a nasty tasting pill, we cut a square just big enough to tunnel out a little pouch for the pill, trimming off anything that they may hesitate and chew. Stick a sharp knife into the chunk and keeping the entrance hole only large enough to force the pill through. Hollow out a place in the middle to harbor the pill. Sometimes the pills are sugar coated and when they get wet they may pop out. Your Veterinarian can often prescribe a Pediatric chewable version, so that if the cat is a chewer, he won’t bite into a bitter pill. If you must give a powdered medication, you can buy empty gel caps and fill them with the powder and give as above.

We had a Lynx that cannot be tricked into swallowing a pill, and if the cat chews every bite of everything suspiciously, then you may want to crush the pill, mix it with some honey, karo syrup or Nutrical, to mask the bitterness, and then inject this syrup into the cat’s food. If the Veterinarian says to pill the cat two times a day, this means the cat has to actually swallow the pill, and keep it down, twice a day. It does not mean offer it twice and if he takes it, fine and if not, too bad. If not before, then after the first bout of medicating that you and the cat experience, you will do everything super humanly possible to keep the cat from getting sick or hurt in the first place.



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Update:  3/11/14:  Thanks to our wonderful SkipAHolics, who keep a constant eye on our hospitalized cats, we were able to detect that Cypress the bobcat was straining to defecate again.  She went in to Ehrlich Road Animal Hospital to be examined and it was clear that she is never going to heal properly and be able to pass food; not even the ground diet she’s been getting.  The only humane option was to euthanize her while she was asleep.

Tributes to her brief, but inspiring life, are here:

Video clip from DropCam showing how we care for her in the recovery cage:


The Rescue of Cypress the Bobcat


January 4, 2014 9:28 am a call comes in from Bob Strouse who reports that a bobcat has been struck by a car and has dragged herself off the road at Cypress Gardens Boulevard and Hwy 27 in Winter Haven, FL.  He has called Animal Control, a local rehabber and several vets, but no one will come help the bobcat.

Timeline of the rescue:

Bobcat-Rehab-Cypress-2014-01-05 at 10.36.25 AM


I told the caller I would start heading his way and asked him to see if the bobcat was still alive.  I loaded up the Toyota Tundra, that our Facebook fans helped us win, with nets, carriers and other tools to catch the bobcat.  I lost precious time doing that so we really need to buy some BIG nets, falconry gloves and dog size carriers to keep in the Tundra for such emergencies.  Amazon Wish List




I tried hard not to speed, because the last thing I needed was to waste precious time over a speeding ticket, but I knew from Bob’s voice that he was clearly upset that the cat was so close to traffic and so close to disappearing into the brush on the side of the road, on the other side of a barbed wire fence.  Meanwhile he had called his wife, Lauree Strouse, to bring a big blanket and a carrier.


Bobcat-Rehab-Cypress-2014-01-05 at 10.36.41 AM


When I arrived on the scene there were 3 trucks and 3 people, including Bob and Lauree Strouse and their friend Shawn Patterson, between the 4 lane highway and the barbed wire fence, where the bobcat had dragged herself to evade capture.  I had suggested throwing a blanket over her so that she would feel safe, but the brush on the other side of the fence was so thick that it had been impossible to do.

In the image below you can see a scrubby tree out in the water.  When these kind motorist and I circled around her she managed to drag herself with just her front paws through that muck to the other side of the tree.  When we stepped into that freezing cold, black murky water we sunk up to our knees.  It was like quicksand and I could feel myself being sucked down deeper with each step toward the bobcat.  The muck was so thick it sucked our shoes right off so we were “running” barefoot, in slow motion.

On the other side of the tree the bobcat had gotten into water over her head.  Her look of determination turned to horror as she realized that no matter how fast she paddled with her front legs she was sinking fast.  She looked back at me with the most pitiful look as she was about to be sucked below the surface.  Tears for her terror welled in my eyes as I lunged forward through the tree reaching out as far as I could shove the net through that tangle of branches.

She seized one last gulp of air before the net came up under her and lifted her out of the water.  Bob said rather incredulously to me, “You’ve obviously done this before!”  What he didn’t know, and I couldn’t possibly explain in that moment, was that only angels could have guided that net through the brush, under the bobcat and lifted her to safety.  I am not that good and certainly, at age 52, not that strong.

Now I had her sitting like a fish in the net and any bobcat who has ever been in my net that way has quickly clamored over the edge and out.  I needed to flip the net up vertically so she would be trapped in the bag end of the net with the barred rim holding the bag closed, but I was stuck, up to my knees in mud, leaning full forward on the tiny branches of the tree and couldn’t imagine how I was going to stand up.

If the branches broke, I was going to fall face forward onto this little broken bobcat and probably drown us both.  I heaved up and backward with all the strength I could summon, flipped the net shut and felt myself going over backward.  An angel, in the form of one of the motorists, was there to steady me.



Photo of bobcat in net by Shawn Patterson


Lauree asked how they could help and I asked them to bring the big blanket they had and the smaller of the two carriers I had brought.  The bigger one would have been easier to get her into, but it wouldn’t fit through the tight tangle of undergrowth.  They hauled the carrier to the only high spot on the inside of the barbed wire fence, and I staggered, zombie like, through the muck, one deep step at a time to this higher ground, all the while being careful not to tip the net open.




Getting the feisty little bobcat out of the net and into the carrier was no small feat either.  Never mind that we had just saved her life and saved her from dying in the cold black muck alongside a highway.  She wasn’t going in that carrier; no matter how soft and comfy that big fluffy blanket looked.  We tried pushing her with the other net, but she wasn’t going to be forced and was spread eagle over the opening.

I was really wishing I had brought gloves, but time was wasting and she had to get to a vet, so while the heroes on the scene distracted her, I held the hoop of the net to the carrier door with my right hand and shoved my left hand as far under her body, and away from those teeth, to hoist her up and through the hole.

Angrily she spun around and began biting the nets, the door and a water bowl that was attached to the door, so it took a while to ease the nets out through a crack, without her lunging out against the barely open door.  Once she was in the carrier they helped me carry it back to the Tundra on the side of the road, but we paused for this quick picture first.  (A Polkism, I’m told)  Each step was treacherous and backing through a barbed wire fence is no fun either, but the first part of the rescue was a success.  I could not have done it without all three of these Good Samaritans, and the angels that surrounded us.




Bob and Lauree Strouse and another helpful motorist all stayed with the young, injured bobcat until help arrived.  They were the difference between life and death for this little bobcat!  Most of the calls we get are from people who are “too busy” to stay with the bobcat so we end up searching for hours and sometimes days, to no avail.  These three wouldn’t let her out of their sight and called me repeatedly to help me with directions and to give me updates on her painful attempts to pull herself away from all the traffic, using only her front legs.


Bobcat-Rehab-Cypress-2014-01-05 at 10.36.41 AM


While I was driving the bobcat from the far side east side of Winter Haven to the far west side of Tampa, Jamie Veronica, our President, was frantically trying to arrange for vet care on a Saturday afternoon.  She called on her husband, Dr. Justin Boorstein to help on his day off, she called our primary vet, Dr. Wynn to see if we could use her clinic and if she was around and she called Blue Pearl.




Dr. Wynn had a full day of clients but agreed to let us bring the little bobcat, who weighed in at a mere 16.2 pounds, to the Ehrlich Animal Hospital.




L-R  Dr Liz Wynn, Jamie Veronica, Cypress the bobcat, Dr. Justin Boorstein.  Dr. Wynn ascertained from the physical exam that Cypress had no broken legs, but that her pelvis felt like it was crushed.  This was about the worst news we could get, so she sent the yearling bobcat kitten in for -rays.




Here Ben, a tech at Ehrlich Animal Hospital, is putting lube in her eyes to protect them while the bobcat is sedated and then she is put on anesthesia gas.


Bobcat Rescued 2014-01-05 at 10.41.10 AM



Dr. Boorstein holds the anesthesia mask over the bobcat kitten’s nose while Ben shaves her forepaw to insert a catheter to give her fluids and medication.




Her blood work looked good, with no cat diseases that would prevent her release, so we continue.




Cats in general have an amazing ability to heal themselves.  The bobcat arrived with a bleeding toe and a puncture wound above her eye, and road rash on her joints as she bounced along the pavement after the impact, but the toe wound has already disappeared completely.  Dr. Justin is cutting away the ravaged edges of her wounds and closing them with skin glue.




The bobcat’s temperature was only 92 degrees and should have been about 100-101 so she is on a full body heating pad, has warmed water bottles snuggled up to her and a thick blanket over the top to keep her from going into shock.





Jamie holds the mask over the bobcat’s face so the vets and techs can do their work.




The bobcat has a seriously deep puncture wound right above her eye.  She was very lucky not to loose the eye but we aren’t sure what caused this.  It seems unlikely that any part of a car hitting her would cause this kind of puncture, so maybe she did it scurrying away from the scene when she bellied under a barbed wire fence, but bobcats are usually tougher skinned than that.  Maybe it is what led to her being in the highway in the first place.  Right next to the scene were bulldozers plowing down her forest.  She’s obviously a youngster and most like being pushed out of this territory by her mom and siblings, so it could have been a battle over territory that sent her running for the other side of the highway, where she got smashed by a car.





The results of the x-rays showed that her pelvis was crushed by the impact.  It is broken in 4 places and 2 of them are places that will be very difficult, if not impossible to plate and pin.  We consulted with orthopedic specialists, Dr. Hay and Dr. Salas, and both are telling us that two of the breaks are pretty “easy” to fix, but the other two are just about impossible to plate, so what they often suggest, with cats, is cage rest in the hopes that the cat will remain calm enough to let the bones mend back together on their own.

Bobcat-Rehab-Cypress-Xrays_1268 Bobcat-Rehab-Cypress-Xrays_3173 Bobcat-Rehab-Cypress-Xrays_5445




Just judging from the x-rays, the vets fear that even if they can do extensive reconstruction of her pelvis that she may never be whole enough to hunt.  That was the beginning of an emotionally painful decision that we have to make; ie, should we euthanize her so that she doesn’t have to go through surgery, recovery and then likely live her life in a cage, or do we do every thing we can surgically, hope for a miracle in her own healing abilities, since she is young, strong and has a vicious will to survive, and then see how she does over the next few months?




These are such tough decisions because we could put her through all of this only to end up with her life being one of captivity that she will probably hate because she has known what it was like to roam for miles, choose her own favorite hunting and sleeping spots and everything else that comes from living free.  I hate having to make these decisions and rely on the advice of our vets and Jamie’s sense of fairness to the cat.  For now our plan is to take her in for more x-rays, and probably surgery if that is deemed best by all involved for the cat.




The black on her tooth is just dirt.  Dr. Justin was checking to be sure her jaw was not broken and that no teeth were broken from the impact.


FHO Surgery at Blue Pearl by Dr. Salas



Big Cat Rescue President, Jamie Boorstein, holds bobcat while Blue Pearl tech, Cheryl prepares her for surgery


Cypress the rehab bobcat was taken to Blue Pearl today where Dr. Salas (same doctor who did Tonga’s surgery) performed a FHO – Femoral Head Ostectomy. You can read more about the procedure here:



L-R Dr Salas and tech Cheryl at Blue Pearl prepare Cypress for surgery


She is recovering in the cat hospital and we hope that after 6-8 weeks of cage rest she will show enough improvements to be considered a candidate for release.



L-R Dr Salas, Cheryl and Blue Pearl Intern


During these 6-8 weeks she must be kept in small quarters in the cat hospital and it is imperative that she remain calm.



Dr Salas, at Blue Pearl, saws the head off the top of the femur


Dr Salas, at Blue Pearl, saws the head off the top of the femur


Big Cat Rescue President, Jamie Boorstein removes trachea tube after surgery


What happens for Cypress the bobcat will largely depend on her.  We will watch her progress and her demeanor and as long as she is willing to fight for life we will try to give her the best opportunity to enjoy it to the fullest.



X-rays before and after the FHO surgery


You can help us cover the cost of her surgery, which was be upwards of $1,400 and enable us to be there for other cats in distress by donating here:


Give to Big Cat Rescue



The photos below are a family of bobcats who live just 10 miles from the site of this accident.  Bobcats will often patrol 5 square miles of territory.

Bobcat-Wild-Circle-B-Bar-Reserve_5475393061666 Bobcat-Wild-Circle-B-Bar-Reserve_5483306444848

Bobcat Avoids Gator at Circle B Bar Reserve

Bobcat-Wild-Circle-B-Bar-Reserve_10958774007083 Bobcat-Wild-Circle-B-Bar-Reserve_10974912539052



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hear big cats


Female Siberian Lynx

DOB 5/5/93 – 2/2/15

Rescued 9/19/93


Siberian Lynx at Big Cat RescueNatasha (on left) was rescued, along with 27 other cats, from a fur farm. She cost more than any of the other cats because she is exquisitely beautiful. She has survived poisoning and a very scary seizure in 1996. She was diagnosed with heart worms in 1997 and recovered very slowly. We had never seen heartworms in the exotic cats, and as a result of her infestation have made it a policy to treat all of Big Cat Rescue’s animals with Ivermectin, which is a de-wormer, as a preventative.

Natasha shared a Cat-a-tat with Willow and they loved each others company. One of Natasha’s favorite things to do is chew. She, like most Siberian lynx, have a love for chewing. She will chew just about anything, sticks, pine cones, cardboard tubes, but her favorite of all are pineapple tops. She does not eat these things, but rather tears off tiny pieces of them with her front teeth and then spits it out. She will continue with this until there is nothing left of whatever item fell victim to her chewing. Natasha is lovable and fun-loving and considers no one a stranger.

She was raised with Willow and Alexander, the bobcat hybrid, and still remains one of the friendliest cats here. She shared her large grassy habitat with Willow until her death in 2013. Ironically, they were often seen lying in the sun grooming each other’s beautiful fur coats.



Big Cat Rescue has already bought out every U.S. fur farm known to us and we would like to do the same with the Canadian ones. We determined, however, that in order to purchase the cats remaining at the known Canadian farm, and build barely adequate caging for them, it would have cost over $95,000. back in 1997.  Since then we have determined that we cannot rescue our way out of this problem and are devoting time and energy to changing laws to protect the animals.  Visit to help.

Visit Natasha’s Tribute page here: