Feb 22 2017

Big Cat Updates

Hoover is really liking his ‘girly’ neighbors, except when he thinks they might get his snacks.

The Picky Boys

TJ:  Yesterday, by the end of the day when all of TJ’s mini meals were tallied he had eaten over 12 pounds!  Way to go TJ!  Great Job, Keepers!!!

Zeus:  Yesterday, Zeus’s keeper managed to coax him into eating 9 pounds, not enough but not bad, for him.

Hoover:  Yesterday, when his room service trips were tallied keepers had managed to get Hoover to eat 12 pounds.  WooHoo Hoover!

Cameron:  Yesterday, when Cameron’s multiple mini meals were tallied up he had eaten close to 11 pounds.  Good Boy, Cameron!!

Joseph:  Yesterday, Joseph’s mini meals totaled up to almost 10 pounds.  Great Work, Keepers!!

While we want these boys to eat more than this, and try multiple times a day to get them to eat more, we do rejoice on days like yesterday when these five picky boys all eat at least this much.

 People Often Ask

People often ask:  Why don’t you just make the picky ones eat more because they look too skinny?

We hear that question a lot and it always surprises us a bit, because we know that our cats live far longer than they do in the wild or even at the best zoos or sanctuaries.  We just assume that everyone knows, when they see our cats’ photos and videos, that they are already twice as old as most other cats ever even live to be.  Apparently not, so here’s the skinny on why some of our cats look thin.

Whenever we post a photo or video of one of our cats we try to include the name because, if we don’t, the next hundred questions will be, “Who is that?”  All of our cats have their own bio page located here:  https://bigcatrescue.org/catbio and most are easy to guess, as they will be the cat’s name after the URL, so Keisha would be https://bigcatrescue.org/Keisha  If you go to the CatBio page, click on the hyperlinked name of each cat to go to their page, or you can play their story by clicking the play button next to their name.

At the top of each page about the cat, and usually in the recorded story, you will find the cat’s date of birth (DOB).  Do the math and you will find that more than 20 of our cats are over the age of 20, which is just about unheard of.  Most cats in the wild, or in most captive settings only live to be 10 or 12.  When you hear about an exotic cat living to 17 or 20 it’s usually considered newsworthy, and that’s how you even heard about them.  Seventeen is our average age of death and as of 2016 we have 60 cats who are over the age of 15.  48 of those are over the age of 18.

Like they say, “Old age ain’t for pussies.”

When animals, including humans, get old we lose muscle mass.  Our skin sags, our bones protrude and our gait slows.  We lose our teeth and our appetites.  The same thing happens when cats get this old.

In nature the old become prey as they lose their ability to hunt and fend for themselves.  In places that force cats to live together, the elderly are often killed by their cage mates and quietly disposed of, before the public shows up… if the public is allowed visitation at all.  At Big Cat Rescue our cats can live alone if they prefer, and most do.  That way they never have to fight for food or the right to survive.

Many facilities keep the old animals out of public view because the old ones just are not ‘as pretty’ as they were in their prime and most facilities don’t want to take the time to explain hundreds of times why a cat looks thin etc.

Here at Big Cat Rescue we feel these old animals have earned the right to be catered to, pampered, and waited on hand and paw.  LOL, and let me tell you, these old cats have their keepers well trained to do just that, too!!  Keepers have learned to get certain cats to eat enough they want their food cut into certain size chunks, placed in their mouths in just the right way.  They have trained their keepers well to know what times of day they will eat.  They have even trained their keepers to run back and forth bringing different kinds of meat.  They keep their keeper on their toes by choosing a favorite food one or two days in a row and then refusing that food the next day.

We will assist these old cats in having quality of life with a number of tactics.

  1. Several meals a day for picky eaters
  2. After the age of 17 the cats call the shots on whats for dinner they have keepers running back and forth several times each day offering different foods.
  3. We assist with grooming the places they can’t reach
  4. We provide pain management and joint supplements
  5. Blood cicles are given daily to those in final stages of kidney failure to keep them hydrated
  6. Many of the cats have heating pads in their dens, even though it almost never drops to freezing in Tampa, FL
  7. They get soft hay in their dens
  8. Sometimes, they get misting fans to keep them cool if they seem bothered by the heat

Cats are picky, finicky eaters and what they loved yesterday may bore them to tears today.  While we go to the extreme for our elderly or sickly cats, we do mix it up for all of our cats to keep it interesting.

We are the only sanctuary I know that feeds their cats every day.  We used to fast on Sundays, but as our population has become so old, we started feeding them every day in 2014.  Old or sick cats have always been fed every day.  Our primary diet is a ground carnivore diet with all of their vitamins and minerals mixed in, but they get varying amounts of it each day, because let’s face it; who wants meatloaf every day?  We also feed varying amounts and cuts of chicken and beef and twice a week they get whole prey (fed dead).  They like chicken necks and those are good for cleaning teeth, but are not a primary food source because of the lack of nutrition in that piece of grizzle.  Sometimes they get turkey, cornish hens, lamb, and an assortment of organ meats.  More about our feeding here: https://bigcatrescue.org/feed-cats/

Despite all of our best efforts, it is a real challenge to keep all 77 cats at their perfect weight.  In the summer, when it’s hot, they just won’t eat, so some get thinner than we would like.  In the winter, Mother Nature tells them to bulk up for the freezing famine ahead, but it’s Florida and they are going to get fed every day, so sometimes they get too fat.

What is constant is our attention to their condition.  With more than 90 volunteers and interns on the grounds every week, feeding cats and cleaning up what they leave, we get a very good picture of how our cats are doing.  After cleaning every day the volunteers and interns log what food was left behind, and what the feces looked like.  That sends an email immediately to the CEO, President, Operations Managers and the and anyone else in our volunteer corp who chooses to subscribe to those alerts.  I can tell you, in real time what a cat did or didn’t eat, what they may have caught on their own, what their poop looked like, and if they were acting weird, limping, etc. because every few seconds I am getting those reports throughout the day.  It’s also compiled into each cat’s chart so we can pull up any cat and see everything that has been reported about them.  Our vets have access to these records 24/7 via the cloud and their iPhones.

We are constantly discussing individual cat’s diets with our vets and trying to keep them at their healthiest weights.  Each of our vets visits twice a week or more as needed.  We are also constantly sharing photos and videos of the cats with them, when there is a situation we need them to assess.

Our Cats Live to be Very Old

Some of our oldest cats have been Scratch Cougar who was one month shy of 30 when he died and Flavio Tiger who died at the age of 25, and Arizona Serval was 25.  In fact, Sabre leopard will be 25 on March 1st.

 Cats On The Move

We are closed on Thursdays so that is the day we take on big projects and the day we move the vacationing cats around.

Tomorrow’s moves are:

  • Priya going home
  • Sassy Cougar going home
  • Kewlona & Dryden going in Funcation
  • Kali going in Vacation Rotation

We often do multiple live videos on Facebook.com/bigcatrescue so you all can enjoy seeing the cats be moved to and from vacation.


 Facebook Live Video Replays

VIDEO: Waldcat Walkabout 2/21/2017

Wildcat walkabout featuring Cameron Lion, Tigers: Zabu, Andy, Zeus, Hoover, Gabrielle, Priya, Amanda and Arthur. Bobcats: Smalls, Servals: Tonga, Ginger, Frosty, Savannah Cat: Diablo and others. Short visits w/ Gale, Kathryn, Josh and Randall from PurrfectionCSI.com who has been helping us with our IT needs for 13 years.


VIDEO:  The Evolution of Cats

Helena Parsons has been an Intern and a Legislative Intern at Big Cat Rescue. Tonight she presented to the staff, volunteers and interns of Big Cat Rescue about the evolution of cats.

Sorry about the shaky camera. My iPhone 7 plus tripod broke.


Note To Viewers:  If you aren’t getting the Facebook notifications when we go live there, some people are saying that at the end of a video broadcast they are having to click the subscribe button that comes up in the middle of the video screen AFTER the broadcast ends.  They are telling me that doing so seems to get them back in the loop.  We’d appreciate any feedback you might have about this.

 Facebook Live Contest

Each day that Carole does a Facebook Live video she asks a question and someone who answers it correctly wins a prize. So, go to Facebook and Like our Facebook Page and choose to get notifications of our live videos. Then participate in the contests, join in conversations in the comments area, too. Be sure to book mark BigCatRescue.org/win which is where you will post your answer to qualify for a future prize if you are the first one to get the correct answer.

2/21/2017 Contest

Question: What are the white spots or stripes on the back of Desiree’s ears?

Winner:  Kristine Metzner

Answer:  Flashes

Winner’s Chosen Prize:  I Heart Big Cats Tote Bag

I Heart the Big Cats at Big Cat Rescue tote features actual paw prints from TJ, Zabu, and Hoover the tigers, Jumanji the leopard, Aspen the cougar, Kewlona, Smalls, and Mrs. Claws the bobcats, Zimba, Pharaoh, and Nala the servals, Canyon the sand cat, Nirvana the ocelot, Jojo the hybrid. (Sadly, Jumanji, and Canyon have passed away.) Show your love for all of the big cats with this custom made tote. 100% spun polyester weather resistant fabric, dual handles 100% natural cotton bull denim, bag 15″ x 15″, made in America.

 Big Cat Gift Shop

Lens Cleaning Cloth – Animal Collage $1

Ultra soft cleaning cloth is great for cleaning your glasses, sunglasses, or camera lens.  Features collage of wild animals including lions, tigers, and leopards.  Approximately 6″ x 7″.

Auto Shade – Cat Eyes $15

Keep your car cool and protect your dashboard from harmful UV rays. This black shade with green cat eyes adheres to your windshield with two provided suction cups. Fits most cars. Shade is 50″ x 27.5″

 Featured Big Cat – Nikita

Born 2/3/2001

Rescued 11/30/2017

Nikita was found chained to the wall in a crack house during a drug bust in Tennessee. Because she had been confined to a concrete floor, she had huge swellings on her elbows that took months to heal.  She was so thin that you could carry her under one arm.  She would only eat white rabbits, so she had a plethora of nutritional issues to deal with as well.

The authorities took her to the Nashville Zoo at Grasmere, but she had been declawed and could not live with the zoo’s other lions.  They had to find a new home for her, so we received the call. Big Cat Rescue agreed to take Nikita in, as well as three other Bobcats who all arrived on 11/30/01.

Here are a couple photos taken a while after Nikita arrived here.  You can see how bad her elbows still were from where her form owner had kept her chained on concrete.

Learn more about Nikita at:  https://bigcatrescue.org/2011/nikita-3/

Nikita’s nest cam: https://video.nest.com/live/4dASyt This overlooks her feeding lockout and a small portion of her roofed section.


Nikita also has a HIGH QUALITY live web cam that over looks her open topped enclosure.  It is a cam provided by Explore.org.  It is a monitored camera and the camera operator tries to keep Nikita in the frame whenever possible.  Here is the link to that cam:  http://explore.org/live-cams/player/big-cat-rescue-lioness-nikita


 Keeper Notes from Keeper Candy

Candy C. is a Yellow Shirt Keeper.  It takes a long time to get to the yellow shirt level, which means Candy has been here for a long time giving of her time for the cats she loves.  Remember our amazing and dedicated keepers work for free so they are here because they truly love these cats and believe in our mission to end the abuse and exploitation.  These keepers work in the heat, humidity, cold, pouring rain, beating sun, blasting wind, whatever the weather the keepers are here feeding, cleaning, handing out enrichment, digging trenches, carrying buckets of meat, water, dirt, sand, dragging heavy hoses, in general doing everything that is needed to care for the cats they love.  They get sweaty, dirty, and at times they end up down right smelly, but they always do it with a smile and chuff.

We want to thank each of you who have used Smile.Amazon.com to purr-chase coffee, tea, & snacks for the keepers.  The new Keeper Cafe’ break room will be finished soon and then keepers, like Candy C., will have a comfortable place to rest and chat with other keepers about the cats while enjoying the goodies you have sent for them.

Ares Cougar:  Ares is known for stalking keepers.  I’ve even caught him with his paw in mid air silently sneaking up behind me.  Then, he’ll lie down and purr.  Cougar purrs are the best. I almost got a picture of Ares creeping up, but I wasn’t coordinated enough with the camera.  ~Keeper Candy C.

Running Bear Bobcat:  Bobcat Running Bear often comes to the side of his and Little White Dove’s enclosure while I’m walking around the outside to clean.  He growls and will aggressively attack my scraper if I put it inside the enclosure to pull out poop.  One Thursday, I backed up and started singing “Some Enchanted Evening”.  Running Bear backed up and went over to Little White Dove where he laid down.  As I burst into “Phantom of the Opera”, she started licking his head and I was able to clean all the poop out of their enclosure.  Clearly, I’ll need to expand my repertoire while cleaning their enclosure.  ~Keeper Candy C

Note to Viewers: While cleaning out my email box I found a couple Keeper notes from Candy this past summer that I thought you all might like to see.  If you’d rather not see older stuff like this let me know and I can skip it.

Sheena Serval:  (August) Sheena serval caught an opossum in her enclosure.  It wasn’t a good outcome for the opossum.

Reise Cougar:  (August) Reise Cougar bounded out from under her platform to chase a squirrel on our afternoon tour.  Being 21, but still a cougar, Reise moves fast, but not as fast as a young squirrel.  Btw, I’ve never seen Reise run or jump which she did over a log in her cat-a-tat. She has a lot of heart.

 Viewer Videos From Explore.org/bigcatrescue

There are some GREAT videos recorded by viewers at explore.org/bigcatrescue that you will really enjoy watching.

Here is a list of YouTube channels that feature videos of the cats here:

 Quick Links

As per viewer suggestions, Quick Links now has it’s very own page https://bigcatrescue.org/quick-links/

Bookmarking it will help you find things quickly.  That will come in handy for:

  • Helping us answer questions on social media
  • Finding answers to some of Carole’s Facebook Live questions

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