Indian Summer


Female Bobcat  DOB 1989

Arrived 10/31/96

DOD 8/9/12

Indian Summer and Shiloh had lived together for seven years and never produced kittens so when they arrived here we left them together since they had shared a cage their entire lives.  Their former owner was a cat breeder in Davie, Florida who decided that she wanted to re-do her garden and the cats were in the way.  They have never been friendly to anyone here, but apparently got too friendly with each other and produced a litter of kittens on 7/24/97.  Catera was the result of that as was an immediate neutering for Shiloh. Their breeding was accidental and we haven’t intentionally bred cats since 1997.

August 9, 2012

Indian Summer has stopped eating so Dr. Wynn came by tonight and helped ease her into her next big adventure.

Farewell to Shadow and Shiloh

Even if you have never visited Big Cat Rescue, you probably knew Shadow, the chatty cougar who inspired our blog and video series called The Shadow Knows.  He was our largest cougar and certainly the most vocal.  If you called out to him from any where on the property, you would get an immediate “Raaaaah!” back.  He never seemed to tire of talking either and as long as you would talk to him, he would cheerfully chirp back.  His cage mate, Sugar, would just watch in her gentle, bemused way.

Indian Summer Bobcat 1989-2012
Indian Summer Bobcat 1989-2012

Now she watches, and waits, with longing looks down the path where she last saw Shadow leave.  The volunteers take turns sitting with her, talking with her and trying to ease her transition.  She has had Shadow at her side for the past 12 years and even though cougars are solitary in the wild, captivity changes things.  It is extremely rare that adult cats can be introduced to each other without injury but sometimes, when they have been raised together, they seem to take pleasure in having someone to snuggle with in their den.

Most of our cats live into their teens and early twenties, and our oldest cat was just shy of 30 when he died.  Shadow was only 15 and appeared to be the picture of health when a brain tumor sent him into a massive seizure.  He was immediately rushed to the vet for diagnostics and had to be anesthetized in the process.  The anesthesia relieved his convulsions, but when he started to awaken he would regress back into paddling, screaming seizures.

When it became apparent that he would never have another peaceful moment we decided that euthanasia would be the only humane thing to do.  That is never an easy decision, but when a cat is old, wasting away and suffering, that is an easier choice to make.  When the cat looks on the outside to be vibrant and healthy it is much harder.  We had to be sure that his brain disease was beyond repair and when we were, needle in hand, we tearfully began to say our goodbyes.

One injection and he would pass from the fitful, drug induced sleep he was already experiencing, to crossing over the Rainbow Bridge.  It would be quick, painless and silent.  He would never know what happened.  Before we gave him the shot, however, he drew his own last breath and died.  For his entire life, Shadow never had a choice.  A greedy backyard breeder sold him into the pet trade.  He was kept cooped up in a trailer until we rescued him and Sugar in 1998.  He never got to choose his own path, his own home or even his own dinner.  He was forced to take the lousy hand life had dealt, but he did it with a happiness that was contagious.  Only in his very last moment was he able to make the decision to walk out of life on his own terms.

Meanwhile, Shiloh the bobcat appeared to have an abscessed tooth.  His cage mate, Indian Summer is the same age (19), and probably is his sister since they came from the same place.  She has recovered beautifully after having all of her rotten teeth removed.  We were treating his abscess, with the intent of removing the offending tooth or teeth once the swelling was under control.  But the swelling wasn’t improving.

When Shiloh went in for work to his teeth, the jaw bone looked suspicious and was tested.  The results came back that confirmed our worst fear:  bone cancer.  We have lost two other bobcats to bone cancer and it is a relentless disease.  Both of the other cats had great personalities, but as the cancer progressed they became hostile, and in retrospect we believe that it was from dealing with the pain that they were otherwise hiding from us.

Exotic cats don’t act sick unless they are on the verge of dying.  Instincts tell them that it is survival of the fittest, so they do not show any signs or symptoms until it is virtually too late to save them.  Because of this, a lot of zoos knock the cats out every year to do pre-screening diagnostics, but anesthesia is very dangerous for exotic cats.  Often they will die when awakening from a condition that causes their bodies to overheat very quickly.  Even if they don’t die right away, the damage done from the chemicals to their system often causes them to die very young.  That is why you will rarely see a cat in the zoo that is over 10 or 12 years of age.

Shiloh had never seemed to have a happy day in his life.  He may have had a special relationship with some of his keepers, but for the rest of the world, he only hissed.  His enclosure was thick with brush and places to avoid being seen.  It made it hard for us to check on his swollen cheeks when his teeth began to rot.  It was bad enough to live a life he didn’t choose, but we were not going to add to his misery by pulling all of his teeth to stop the infection, only to have the bone cancer continue eating away at his jaw and other bones.  This sad situation was Shiloh’s “Get Out of Jail Free” card and we were not going to cheat him out of it.

So now Indian Summer, like Sugar, is facing the rest of her time on this planet alone.  She and Shiloh had also been bred for the pet market.  They were bought as lawn ornaments by a woman who had a Native American themed back yard and thought they were just the perfect touch.  When she decided to change the theme, they didn’t fit any more and she dumped them in 1996.

At Big Cat Rescue these cats have been honored as the individuals that they are.  They have been loved for who they are.  Thanks to all of our wonderful supporters these cats and many, many more have had the chance to live out the rest of their lives in peace.  There is no better fate available to captive bred wild cats than Big Cat Rescue, but we can do more for them.

We can end the breeding of exotic cats for lives in cages.  We can save habitat so that their wild cousins can live free.  When we do so, we are creating a more compassionate society and a healthier planet for all of us.  Be sure to sign up at so that you know when there is an important issue that needs your voice.  Your contact info is safe with us and we respect your privacy.

Tributes to Indian Summer Bobcat

Lynda Licht Sep 17, 2012
Summer, I loved to find you sleeping soundly among the ferns. Your beautiful markings and deep breathing so perfectly in tune with the natural surroundings. The world was so perfect in that quiet moment with you – thanks for that rare glimpse into the sublime. You are missed little one.

Unknown Aug 15, 2012
Summer well you certainly used your 9 lives to the fullest extent. My last vision of you was of you tightly curled up snoozing in the sun among the leaves slightly twitching while you dreamed. Perhaps you were dreaming of joining Shiloh and Catera and all the magnificent BCR cats that preceded you to run free and wild. Feisty and quick until the end! Be at peace little warrior Bobcat!

Meredith Pennino Aug 11, 2012
Indian Summer was a delight from the moments we first started getting to know each other. Back then, she was on “the Road” cleaning section, and in her enclosure she had tall grasses. I can recall circling her enclosure looking for her calling “Indie” (what I called her back then), and her occasional response would be a pounce out of the grasses. A true bobcat suprise. Later, as our elderly darling had moved and began eating more slowly, I enjoyed spending time watching Summer eat, sutting with her to make sure she ate all her food (or at least a fair part of it). Although Summer has been fading and was one elderly momma, I love muchly and will miss her incredibly. On Monday someone radioed Gale, that she was unresponsive when called to her lockout. Later, I stopped by while double checking leopards (although it was late in the morning with work still left to do.)
I slowly approached, not sure if it had been Summer’s last summer morning, and quietly removed from her enclosure… There she was, lying in the sun. “Summer…?” I asked trepidatioiously, and the ole hard of hearing elderly lady (whether she heard me or sensed my presence or what), hopped up and spun around.
No simple head tilt or eye opening, but a full on hop up and 180. Definitely not the response I was expecting. Goes to show you that little Miss Summer Always had the ability to suprise, even in her last days. Ultimately when she refused to eat, the most compassionate option was to send her home, to reunite with Shiloh (whom I never met), and sweet, sweet Catera. I can imagine Summer in kitty heaven, grooming baby Catera, whilst he makes his adorable chirps. It was my pleasure to know them both. <3

Carole Baskin Aug 10, 2012
“To be a warrior is not a simple matter of wishing to be one. It is rather an endless struggle that will go on to the very last moment of our lives. Nobody is born a warrior, in exactly the same way that nobody is born an average man. We make ourselves into one or the other.” Carlos Castaneda must have known Indian Summer

More Memorials at

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