WINDSONG Female Bobcat

DOB 4/30/92 – 6/11/2010

Arrived at Big Cat Rescue 11/5/92

Windsong is the bobcat who started Big Cat Rescue.  Windsong was at the Woods and Waters Auction on November 5 1992 where we went to buy Llamas to greenbelt some of our property. She was six months old, on a leash, and being held by her owner in a room full of noisy people and animals. She was obviously terrified.  Her owner said she had been his wife’s pet that she didn’t want any more and he was here to get rid of her.

The man next to me began bidding on her and, as someone who had rehabbed and released wild bobcats since I was in my teens, I warned him that when this cat grew up she would tear his face off.  He said that he was a taxidermist and would just club her in the head in the parking lot so he didn’t have to deal with her.  His plan was to stuff her and sell her as a den decoration.  Windsong had already stolen my heart and there was no way we were going to allow her precious life to be stolen in such a gruesome way.

Windsong taught us more about wild animals than we had ever known, in a very short time. She shattered all of our preconceptions about the emotional nature of wild cats.  The following spring we drove to Minnesota to pick up two Bobcats, two Canadian Lynx, and two Siberian Lynx to bottle raise.  When the breeder turned out to be a fur farm we came home with all 56 kittens!

We have since learned that all wild cats make awful pets.  As much as we love each and every one of ours, they all bite and they all spray.


Windsong Stays On My Mind


6/11/2010  Windsong was in the final stages of renal failure according to her blood work today. She had been diagnosed last December and treated for her advance arthritis, and given fluids, but the treatment only bought her another six months. Now she was wasting away, feeling too nauseous to eat regularly and was beginning to get mouth ulcers that come along with advanced renal failure. I could delay making this awful choice, pump her full of fluids and painkillers again and hope for a few more months, but that would only delay the inevitable. Windsong is 18 and there was no way to turn back the clock and time’s ravages on her little body. She was already asleep (she is just sleeping in the photo at right) while we were doing the blood work, so I asked Dr. Wynn to end her life before she had to suffer even one more day of feeling awful. It was very peaceful as her spirit left her frail little “cat suit.”

I have never cried so much and wondered out loud to Jamie as to why? I believe that we are all eternal and come into and out of form for reasons that we signed up for in advance. I believe that each of us comes here to learn and to teach and to work together for a perfect existence. I don’t miss the cats or the people I have loved who have died because I feel them in and around me all the time, so what are all these tears? Jamie responded that it is because Windsong is an icon. She is the reason that this sanctuary exists. She started all of these and now she’s gone and it feels like something bigger than life has slipped away from us.

The water soothes me, so I drove out to the beach. As soon as I arrived I saw a dolphin rolling and playing in the bay. I wondered what Windsong, who was free at last would do on her first day of freedom. Would she roll in the surf like a dolphin? A seabird flew over head and I wondered if she would be torn between flying high above the shore, or swimming deep beneath the waves, or if you can do both simultaneously in spirit form. I am happy that she never has to spend another day in a cage, but the tears just kept streaming down my face. Why?

I thought back to the first time I saw her. It was on Nov. 4, 1992 (the date we celebrate as the birth of the sanctuary) when her owner carried her into the ring of an exotic animal auction. She had her paws wrapped so tightly around his neck. Her liquid gold eyes were exaggerated in her terror at all of the loud noises and the auctioneer bellowing over the loud speakers that surrounded her. Her eyes caught mine and I began to cry. I heard a song in my head from back in the 70’s for a perfume; “I can’t seem to forget you. Your Wind Song stays on my, Wind Song stays on my, Wind Song stays on my mind.”

I couldn’t quit staring through my tears into her precious little face. I heard Don bidding on her. A bobcat only had a “retail value” of about $160.00 but I heard the bidding go up over $775.00 and Don was not the latest bid. The auctioneer said, $775.00 going once, going twice… an eternity passed, I tore my gaze from her and looked at Don. He raised his card, one last time, and I could breathe again.

So today, as I thought about all that she endured as a captive born bobcat, who was torn from her mother, raised as a pet, abandoned at auction to the highest bidder and who spent the last 18 years in a cage, I couldn’t help but marvel at what an indomitable little spirit she was. She inspired us to save cats like her. She inspired visitors to give up their social lives and become volunteers. She inspired an entire movement that went beyond providing sanctuary to ending the problem at its root. I only regret that I was not able to bring her the good news that we had ended the trade before she died. I can barely stand the thought of yet one more cat dying before we can celebrate that law that will end the breeding and abuse.

I feel honored to have known her and shed tears of admiration for all she has taught us and inspired us to do. Every one of these cats has done the same thing. They have given of themselves and inspired us to all be better people. It hurts so bad to see them age and die and sometimes I wonder how much more I can stand. I hear our volunteers saying the same thing. We are all afraid to even look at their medical charts any more as they are mostly in their latter stage of life. Despite how much our hearts bleed with each loss, those of us who are still here and still committed to the cats, can take some comfort in knowing that we have proven ourselves to be strong enough. We are their freedom fighters and we have to be strong, for those who are left and for those who will “stay on our minds,” until we return to them the freedom of their birthright.

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1 Comment

  1. This is why I stood up for that tiger at the Thousand Oaks 50th Anniversary Parade.

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