Pat Quillen of S.O.S. Care sent five Sand Cats to Big Cat Rescue on October 23, 2000. They were born to Pebbles and Papoose who were the offspring of wild caught Sand Cats sent here during Desert Storm for their protection. Most of the known origin Sand Cats in the U.S. are from these imported Founders who produced well at S.O.S. Care.
They have been sent here as genetic back up and will not be bred at Big Cat Rescue unless their offspring with cats unrelated to this group can be returned to the wild. We will not breed for life in cages.
Sand cats are small desert dwelling cats native to northern Africa and the Middle East.
They are frequent victims of the illegal pet trade and during the Gulf War their livelihood and habitats were greatly affected. In an effort to preserve the species, the Saudi government sent eight of these cats to S.O.S. Care, a California-based international cat-conservation organization.
Genie the Sand Cat
Genie and four litter mates, descendants of the original group, were sent to Big Cat Rescue as a genetic back-up in case of disaster at S.O.S. Care. Genie lives in a large enclosure with thick foliage.
She is quite shy and the plants in her Cat.a.tat provide lots of spaces for her to conceal herself.
Genie also loves to sleep inside her elevated dens, which are merely window flower boxes, that are hung on the walls of her enclosure. Keepers can tell when she is in one of these dens because her tail will be peeking out over the top of the pot.
In her old age Genie became a very finicky eater, so she was fed 2-3 times a day, but when she stopped eating she was brought into the hospital for diagnostics and closer, more intensive care. Nothing could reverse the ravages of time, and she was the oldest sandcat we ever knew. Genie was euthanized after suffering several seizures, to put her out of her misery. You can read tributes to Genie the SandCat here: https://sites.google.com/site/bigcattributes/home/genie-sandcat
This video is about Genie’s friend Canyon the Sand Cat
MORE Pages about & Photos of Genie, the tiny Sand cat:
* Today at Big Cat Rescue – October 3, 2014 – Genie goes to the vet. There are a LOT of photos on this page. (nothing gross). There is a really cool photo of the bottom of Genie’s tiny paw so you can see how it is covered with hair and how it compars in size to the end of a human finger. Check it out: http://bigcatrescue.org/now-big-cat-rescue-oct-3-2014/
Common Name: Sand Cat Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrata) Class: Mammalia Order: Carnivora Family: Felidae Genus: Felinae (Felis) Species: margarita Misc: This is one of the more difficult cats to study in the wild. Their foot coverings allow them to walk on sand without sinking, leaving their footprints nearly invisible. They have learned to crouch down and shut their eyes when a light is shone on them, which prevents the light from reflecting their eyes for tracking. That combined with their protective coat color makes them blend right into their habitat. They also bury all of their excrement making it impossible to find and analyze so their diet can be studied.
Subspecies: F.m margarita – The Sahara F.m. thinobia – Turkestan
F.m. scheffeli – Pakistan
F.m. harrisoni – Arabia, Jordan (Pictured on both pages)
Size and Appearance: Sand Cats weigh in at 4-8 pounds and reach lengths of 29-36 inches, and heights of 10-12 inches. It has a dense soft fur that is a pale sand or gray color above and paler underneath. It has large ears and a broad head, and a reddish streak that runs from its eyes across its cheeks. The ears are reddish-brown and black-tipped. There are faint stripes running down the flanks and black bands running around the tops of the front legs. The tail has 2-3 black rings towards its black tip. The feet are covered with a thick layer of wiry black hair, which insulates the footpads against extremes of heat and cold, and allows for easier movement through the sand. They are prolific diggers, and their claws are not very sharp for lack of places to sharpen them in the desert.
Habitat: Sandy and stony deserts.
Distribution: From the Sahara through the Middle East to Turkestan.
Reproduction and Offspring: These cats have been reported to have 2 litters per year in parts of their territory in both March-April, and again in October. Gestation is 59-63 days, after which females produce a litter of 2-4 kittens. At birth, the newborns weigh approximately 1.5-2 ounces, and will gain about 12 grams per day. Their eyes will normally be open by the 14th day, and they will begin to walk by the 21st day. They begin to take solid food at 5 weeks and become independent by 3-4 months. They reach sexual maturity around 10-12 months.
In captivity, they have lived up to 13 years, but have a high juvenile mortality rate (41%).
Social System and Communication: Solitary.
Because their populations are so few, they have a loud mating call, which resembles the barking of a small dog. Their other vocalizations include meowing, growling, hissing, spitting, screaming and purring. Hear our purrs, hisses, snarls, calls, and growl sounds HERE
Hunting and Diet: Primarily nocturnal, they hunt by digging. Their highly developed hearing allows the to locate prey which is not only sparsely distributed, but underground as well. Their primary diet consists of 3 species of gerbils. It also includes birds, reptiles and arthropods. They are also known for being snake hunters, which they kill with a rapid blow to the head that stuns, and then administer the death bite to the neck. Sand Cats will also cover large kills with sand and return later to feed.
Principal Threats: Habitat degradation is the major threat to the sand cat. Vulnerable arid ecosystems are being rapidly degraded by human settlement and activity, especially livestock grazing (Allan and Warren 1993, Al-Sharhan et al. 2003). The sand cat’s small mammal prey base depends on having adequate vegetation, and may experience large fluctuations due to drought (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002), or declines due to desertification and loss of natural vegetation.
Other localized threats include the introduction of feral and domestic dogs and cats, creating direct competition and through predation and disease transmission (Nowell and Jackson 1996). They also may be killed in traps laid out by inhabitants of oases targeting foxes and jackals or in retaliation for killing their chickens (De Smet 1989; Dragesco-Joffé 1993). There are occasional reports of animals shot in south-east Arabia (M. Strauss pers. comm.)
Status: CITES: Appendix II (except F.m. scheffeli which is on Appendix I). IUCN: Insufficiently known (F.m. scheffeli is classified Endangered).
Felid TAG recommendation: Sand cat (Felis margarita). Sand cats have a long history of living in North American zoos, but have been poorly managed. Two populations exist, one that is hybridized and another derived from an Israeli population. The TAG recommends an SSP with a target population of 80 individuals, all to consist of F. m. harrisoni, the race from the Arabian peninsula. The American SSP and European EEP have joined forces in their breeding plans as neither continent has enough diversity to sustain their populations.
How rare is this cat? The International Species Information Service lists 116 worldwide, with 36 being in the U.S.
Information reprinted With Permission from the IUCN Wild Cats Book.
It is with heavy hearts that we share the news that our beloved sandcat Canyon has died. On December 5th, volunteers reported that he seemed to be having a seizure. Jamie and Carole were immediately called to the scene where staff members were already gathering nets and blankets. Jamie saw that Canyon was on his side, and didn’t appear to be breathing so she ran into his enclosure and began giving him chest compressions. When Carole went to give breaths, she found a chicken neck obstructing his airway and pulled it out.
For about 6-10 minutes Jamie gave Canyon CPR while our vet Dr. Justin Boorstein injected Epinephrine into his heart. CRP continued for another 7-9 minutes, but Canyon was gone.
We have tight control on keys and keeper access to protect the public and the cats. Our policies don’t allow anyone to rush in with Canyon without Jamie or Carole present, because no one would have known that he was choking, rather than having a seizure, until they had their fingers in his mouth.
If there is any silver lining to this, it is that Canyon left us in the sand he loved so much, doing the one thing he loved better than anything else — chomping on a chicken neck. Canyon was 14. We will all miss this feisty little guy so much.
His tribute page is here: https://sites.google.com/site/bigcattributes/home/canyon
Pat Quillen of S.O.S. Care sent five Sand Cats to Big Cat Rescue on October 23, 2000. They were born to Pebbles and Papoose who were the offspring of wild caught Sand Cats sent here during Desert Storm for their protection. Most of the known origin Sand Cats in the U.S. are from these imported Founders who produced well at S.O.S. Care. They have been sent here as genetic back up and will not be bred at Big Cat Rescue unless their offspring with cats unrelated to this group can be returned to the wild. We will not breed for life in cages.
Sand cats are small desert dwelling cats native to northern Africa and the Middle East. They are frequent victims of the illegal pet trade and during the Gulf War their livelihood and habitats were greatly affected. In an effort to preserve the species, the Saudi government sent eight of these cats to S.O.S. Care, a California-based international cat-conservation organization. Canyon and four littermates, descendants of the original group, were sent to Big Cat Rescue as a genetic back-up in case of disaster at S.O.S. Care.
Canyon has a very tall Cat.a.tat that encloses a tree in the center. He loves to climb and spend time in his tree, so keepers placed a den barrel high up in its branches. Canyon can almost always be found sleeping in this secluded space. Canyon lives across the pathway from Cameron the lion, however, he does not seem intimidated by his large neighbor. What he lacks in size he makes up for with boldness. Canyon also loves feeding time and this super tiny cat is a real spitfire when food is involved. When he hears the feeding carts approaching his area he sparks to life and rushes into his feeding lockout to await his meal.
Sand Cats have very sensitive digestive tracts and in the wild would eat prey like lizards and gerbils which have very small flexible bones. Since these little cats would not be able to digest the larger bones in the chicken, that all of the other cats at the sanctuary get, the closest and most economical food source are baby chicks. These arrive frozen from a wholesaler and are thawed before they are given to the Sand Cats. The Sand Cats are also fed a special blended ground diet that has organ meat and vitamins.
That is the lie that animal abusers tell everyone to try and change the subject from protecting exotic cats to a message of mere competition.
They trot out their modified version of our 20 year plan to back up their ridiculous claims, but they leave out the most important part of the plan, which is that there no longer be big cats suffering in captivity, and thus no longer a need for sanctuaries, including Big Cat Rescue’s sanctuary.
As the public becomes better educated about why it is so wrong to breed wild cats for life in cages, they will cease to support industries that breed them as pay to play props, for circuses and other abusive purposes. There will temporarily be an increased need for real sanctuaries, which are those who meet the following standards.
1. Real sanctuaries do not breed exotic cats for life in cages.
2. Real sanctuaries do not buy wild cats.
3. Real sanctuaries do not sell their wildlife.
4. Real sanctuaries do not let the public, nor their staff or volunteers handle the big cats, other than for veterinary purposes.
5. Real sanctuaries do not endanger the public and the big cats by taking them off site for exhibition.
Big Cat Rescue LOVES real sanctuaries and helps them by:
1. Providing guidance on best practices to help the sanctuary qualify for and obtain accreditation through the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.
2. Hosting workshops and conferences for those who want to do the right thing for wild animals.
3. Training volunteers and international interns in understanding that each animal is an individual who is to be respected and treated with dignity.
4. Sending work groups of our own volunteers out to help after disasters and when other sanctuaries are short handed.
5. Sharing the secrets of our success with those who demonstrate clearly that they are putting the animals first.
Those who exploit wild animals for their own gain hate us because they don’t want the public to know that:
1. There is no reason to breed big cats in cages, as none of them in private hands can ever be set free.
2. There is no captive breeding program that benefits conservation, other than AZA administered SSP programs.
3. Paying to play with a cub or see one on display actually harms conservation efforts.
4. Tigers could disappear from the wild because of the smoke screen caused by their legal breeding of generic tigers.
5. A ban on private possession is the first step toward saving tigers in the wild.
Exploiters claim that if the Big Cats & Public Safety Act were to pass that they would be put out of business and wouldn’t be able to help “rescue” lions, tigers, leopards, ligers and other exotic cats, but that isn’t true. Big Cat Rescue is one of the most successful sanctuaries in the world and we do it by being open, honest and treating the cats with kindness and respect. We want sanctuaries to thrive, and they can do that if they employ the same attitudes and behaviors that we have in being a real sanctuary.
Any real sanctuary, who is doing their work for the animals and not their own sense of satisfaction, will share our goal of a world where all wild cats live free.
Genie the Sandcat is rushed to the vet when her keepers note that she is acting weird.
Genie Sandcat was sedated in a glass box used for domestic cats.
This was to make sedation easier on her since she is only 3.3 pounds and 14 years old.
Dr. Wynn keeps a close eye on her vitals.
The monitors are just all over the place, so she has to rely on feel, sound and instincts.
For such an old and tiny cat, Genie Sandcat has some fearsome teeth!
The tiniest mask straps are too big, so Carole holds the gas mask in place.
Sandcats are the softest of the exotic cat species.
No spinal issues and her lungs don’t look terrible, but she has a case of bronchitis.
This is good news, because Genie Sandcat is given a long lasting antibiotic shot and has a good chance at recovery.
Dr. Wynn gives her fluids, steroids and antibiotics to help tiny little Genie fight off her symptoms.
Genie Sandcat’s paw is the size of the tip of Jamie Veronica’s finger.
Sandcat paws are fully furred on the bottom for running on desert sands.
Violations at Big Cat Facilities 2011-2014
The USDA site doesn’t work most of the time and when it does it is so slow that most browsers will time out and quit before you can download the information you are looking for. This information is current as of Oct. 3, 2014.