Why does the cat have mats?

Most exotic cats live to be 10-12 in the wild and in most other captive situations.  At Big Cat Rescue our average age, at time of death, is 18 and we have had some tigers, leopards, bobcats, ocelots and others live into their mid twenties.  One cat lived to be just shy of 30 here.  If you multiply their age by six, you get roughly the human equivalent, so an 18 year old wildcat is roughly the same as you being 108.  As we age, we become arthritic, we lose muscle mass and we sleep a lot.  It’s the same with cats.

Many of the cats rescued by Big Cat Rescue have been declawed, so they can’t use their claws to comb out mats.  Most of the cats at Big Cat Rescue are over the age of 12 (60) and at this writing 34 are over 15 (90), 25 are already over our average age at death of 18 and 21 of our cats are over the age of 20 (120).  Most of our cats can’t fully groom themselves.

We do try to help them with their grooming by using telescoping back scratchers.  Some cats won’t let us touch them.

Sedation is very dangerous for big cats and we don’t knock them out unless it’s really, really important.  They can die under anesthesia or suffer strokes that leave them debilitated; especially when they are old and fragile to begin with.  Some longer furred cats get so matted that we do have to sedate them occasionally because the knots begin to pull their skin, or because they are in areas that get dirty from food or feces, causing a health hazard to the cat.

Other mats, like those in Joseph Lion’s mane, are just surface mats.  They may not look pretty to us, but they aren’t pulling his skin and they aren’t getting crud stuck in them.  If that changes, we will sedate and shave him.

If you are new to Big Cat Rescue, thank you for taking the time to come to this page to learn about us.  Our goal is to end the practice of keeping big cats captive as pets, props and for their parts.  You can help us do that at

Letter to the Management

December 21, 2017

Dear Sir/Madam:

Recently some of my subjects seem to be very concerned about my hairstyle. Fear not. As King of BCR, my subjects look to me to set the standards here – and that includes the latest and greatest fashions and hairstyles. I must always keep things fresh and new.

Now, we all know that I can rock the Bon Jovi big hair look (1) and the Captain Jack Sparrow chin ponytail look (2) and even bed head (3).

Joseph Lion Dread Locks

For the new year, I am trying something new. Those things you refer to as “mats” in my hair are just the start of some dreadlocks! I know some people think dreadlocks are dirty. That is just a myth! Dreadlocks are only dirty if you don’t take care of them and wash them.

I know many of my subjects will want to volunteer for that job, so I will probably need to do a contest and pick a few winners. Unless, of course, Dr. Justin wants to volunteer…

It takes about 6 months to make good dreads, so you will be seeing those “mats” in my hair for a while, but

Don’ worry – everytin gon be irie, mon!


Joseph Lion

(Sent via Lori D., Secretary to the Cats)

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