hear big cats



Male Sand Cat

DOB 7/27/00

Arrived at Big Cat Rescue  10/23/00

DOD 12/5/14

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.

Sand Cat Up Close

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.




More Cute Sandcat Videos

Tributes to Canyon Sandcat

Becky Gagliardo
Apr 15, 2016
Canyon, miss you so much – you always had the heart of a lion. Run free my crazy little one.
Regina Turgeon
Dec 20, 2014
You cute little guy will truly be missed by everyone. I always loved seeing you out at the end of tours and pointing him out to the tour guide to talk about him. So very sad 🙁
Sharon Henry
Dec 13, 2014
You may have been small in size but your presence was that of a giant’s. You were definitely a special little boy and I miss you so much already. Ti Amo Canyon…Ti Amo.
Regina Rinaldi
Dec 13, 2014
Canyon, my little hissy buddy. You were the cutest laying in your barrel on your heating pad, while we were freezing. You were an ambassador for BCR and your species. I will miss your feisty little attitude, but you could always be lured out with treats. I will miss you little Can-Can. Run free or lay down on a nice warm bed my friend. You will be missed.


Similar Posts


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *