Josie Cougar

Appx DOB 1/1/2000

Died 3/9/17 from advanced kidney disease

Josie and 5 others arrived at Big Cat Rescue on Oct. 17, 2016 from Spirit of the Hills.  Find out more about the rescue here:

In 2004 Josie came to Spirit of the Hills from Ken and Nancy Kraft in Minnesota. Josie is spayed.  Keith Kraft, who had owned BEARCAT Hollow in Racine, Minn., had pleaded guilty to falsifying records and conspiracy and was convicted of two counts of witness tampering in connection with the case. Kraft and eight others, including his wife, Nancy Kraft, were accused of illegally trafficking animals, including 17 tigers, seven leopards, five grizzly bears and dead animals and animal skins between 1999 and 2003.

The Krafts became infamous for their part in Operation Snow Plow and for selling theTiger to the Harlem apartment owner, who made news when the police had to scale the side of the building to tranquilize the tiger after it bit the owner.


Her favorite foods are ground buffalo, deer carcasses and rabbit in the winter. Otherwise chicken like quarters in the warmer months and fresh butchered beef. For enrichment we put essential oils in paper bags , bowling balls, and they always had beef bones or wild game bones.

The video below is Josie Cougar back in 2010 at Spirit of the Hills

Feeding Time at Spirit of the Hills

3/8/17  Josie Cougar is not doing well.  Dr. Justin Boorstein came in to see her yesterday because she didn’t eat for two mornings and was staying in her den.  Her blood work shows that she has advanced kidney disease.  It’s probably chronic, and if so, there isn’t anything we can do to restore kidney function in a 17+ year old cat.  (That’s like being 102 if she were a person)  It could be the result of an infection from bad teeth, so she’s getting lots of fluids and antibiotics, to see if she rebounds any.  If so, we can pull the teeth and maybe give her a couple more years.  If she doesn’t respond, then we know it isn’t the teeth and she will have to be humanely euthanized.  We are keeping her inside the West Boensch Cat Hospital for observation.  There is a nest cam on her, but it isn’t public due to her critical condition.  We have staff monitoring her closely.

Josie just arrived here in Oct. 2016 and we don’t know what kind of medical care, if any, she has gotten before her arrival.  Since she came from South Dakota, we suspect that freezing temperatures there probably meant there were many days when access to water wasn’t available.  Kidneys need plenty of water to function and we see a lot of kidney issues in younger cats who have been deprived of fresh water in their previous circumstances.  Many of our cats live into their late teens and early twenties.  One cougar lived to be one month shy of 30, but that only happens when they come to us relatively young.  When they come to us late in life, the damage is often irreversible.


3/7/17  Josie was lethargic and not eating. She was examined by Dr. Justin Boorstein, DVM. She has severe kidney disease as well as some dental issues and a mild infection. She was treated with fluids and medications in case her kidney disease is acute and not chronic (which is a slim chance). She will be observed throughout the day for improvement. However, if she does not respond to the therapies we will know it is her time.

3/9/17  Dr. Justin came out in the evening and we sedated Josie to run her labs again.  Even after getting lots of antibiotics and fluids she was continuing to spiral downward.  She refused to eat or drink and was not a cat we could give fluids without sedating every day, which would kill her too.  We made the sad decision to euthanize her as there was no prospect of her recovering and we did not want her to suffer.  The only solace was that she didn’t have to freeze to death over another brutal South Dakota winter.  Her last season was spent in the sun, surrounded by people who loved her.

If you knew and loved Josie, you can leave your tributes to her in the comments below.

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