Female Siberian Lynx
DOB 3/1/89 DOD 11/20/12
Arrived at Big Cat Rescue 1/11/94
Kanawha arrived at Big Cat Rescue on 1/11/94. Under the care of her previous owner her health had began to deteriorate causing her to become extremely thin. When she arrived she was put on a healthy diet which includes whole prey, chicken quarters, and a special formulated ground diet that is nutritionally balanced. Her health improved dramatically and she gained weight right away. She was introduced to Katmandu and fell in love right away. The two were inseparable until his death at the age of 19.
Big Cat Rescue has already bought out every U.S. fur farm known to us and we would like to do the same with the Canadian ones. We determined, however, that in order to purchase the cats remaining at the known Canadian farm, and build barely adequate caging for them, it would have cost over $95,000. back in 1997. Since then we have determined that we cannot rescue our way out of this problem and are devoting time and energy to changing laws to protect the animals. Visit www.CatLaws.com to help.
How Kanawha Got Her Name
Through making some stupid choices as a kid, I ran away from home at the age of 15. I isolated myself from family and friends, was living on the street, eating out of dumpsters and sleeping under cars. I worked as a waitress and often held three jobs at a time.
I worked in a breakfast room mornings, served lunch and dinner at a Greek Restaurant, and then worked till 2 am serving drinks in bars until they figured out that I was under age and I’d have to move to the next bar. Eventually I was able to earn enough to rent an unheated garage. It had a toilet, sink and bathtub but the water to run them all was via a garden hose I ran in through the broken window. There was no A/C, no fan and only the heat of one small space heater that I bought. One night, thinking I would freeze to death I fell asleep too close and caught my hair on fire.
The clothes I left home with hung on my skeletal frame now as I had been reduced to just skin and bones. I used an old rope for a belt and even my shoes were too big now and caused blisters on my feet as I had to walk to and from all of my places of work in Charleston, W.Va.
I lived with a 6’4″ 250 lb mutant, drug addict who routinely beat me within an inch of my life. No matter how hard I worked, it was never enough to support his habits. Sometimes I would be out of work for weeks because I couldn’t be serving food with blackened, swollen eyes and bloodied lips. It was then that I was at my lowest and often felt that I just couldn’t keep going.
One night as I was walking home to my garage I deterred toward the Kanawha River bridge. I climbed as high as I could go and, borrowing a line from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, figured the fall alone would kill me. I slipped off my shoes and did a swan dive into the icy waters of the Kanawha River.
Much to my surprise, the fall didn’t kill me, but as I surfaced I wondered if hypothermia might. Feeling really stupid I thought to myself that I couldn’t even commit suicide right…Then I heard the voice of a man screaming from the bridge,
“Don’t worry! I’ll save you!”
To my horror, a homeless man who had apparently watched me jump, had now leapt off the bridge to rescue me. Being in considerably worse condition than me, and drunk to boot, his rescue effort resulted in me dragging him back in to shore, but I was touched nonetheless. His selflessness in the face of what little he had to give showed me that no matter how bad things are, you can help someone else; you can make a difference, if you just never give up.
Fast forward to 1994 and a terribly skinny Siberian Lynx arrives. She was so far gone, and yet tenaciously held on to life and her indomitable spirit. She reminded me that no matter how difficult life becomes we never know what is just around the corner. If we have faith, stay positive and NEVER EVER, EVER GIVE UP, we will succeed.
I named her Kanawha so that every time I thought her name, I would be reminded to never give up. Now I volunteer with the Homeless Coalition and speak at their events to encourage others who are homeless to keep trying and to let their donors know that the people they help could one day be paying it forward.
Kanawha is 22 now, and as most of you know has lost her soul mate Katmandu who was 19. Kanawha suffers from seizures when she hears the lawn mower so we have moved her back into the wooded area of the sanctuary beyond Cameron and Zabu so that her final days are as stress free as possible.
As always, I want to thank all of you who give so deeply of yourselves to these animals. It is the inspiration that enables me to deal with the dark side of the enemies we face who seek to abuse and exploit big cats.
Tributes to Kanawha Lynx
Diana Rao Nov 28, 2012
Another sweet friend of ours has “crossed over the rainbow bridge” but another way to look at it is to know that for the time Kanawha was here, she received the best loving care possible. All anyone can do is to provide the best life possible for all God’s creatures and here at Big Cat Rescue you have all done that. For Kanawha and all the cats that call BCR home.
Pam Rodriguez Nov 26, 2012
Like Sherry, I hadn’t seen Kanawha for some time, nevertheless she made an impact on me when I arrived at BCR. Thank you to all her took great care of her.
BethAnn Bluder Nov 24, 2012
When I would do operant with a Abob you always came over and asked if you could have some. I will miss sharing with you. You were so pretty and smart. You are free now.
Regina Rinaldi Nov 23, 2012
Kanawha, you were a feisty girl, which made you more beautiful!!! Even when you huffed at me I knew you loved us for loving you. But you’re true soulmate Katmandu is waiting for his true love, and he has to wait no more. Run, seizure free, with your true love Katmandu. Forever loved, forever missed.
Sherry Levesque Nov 23, 2012
Dear Kanawha – haven’t seen you for a while but will always remember the love you and Katmandu had for each other and now you are back together – chase those rabbits and have a pain free forever my sweet girl.
Marie Schoubert Nov 22, 2012
What a sad day for me when I went to give ABob his treats and you were not behind me anymore! I still can here you…. I told ABob that he didn’t have to share his treats with you anymore… I couldn’t stop the tears… Kanawha, please don’t forget about us because we will never forget you! I am sure Kathmandu is happy to have you back… Enjoy your freedom now… R.I.P my love!
More Memorials at https://bigcatrescue.org/category/memorials/