Mia Domestic Cat



AKA Maya
Mia the Domestic Cat      1/1/1993 – 11/26/2008
Mia’s Story as told by Carole

For 17 years, my best girlfriend was my secretary.  In April of 1997 she had a cat who was spraying all over her house and she was threatening to send the cat to the pound so I took her home and turned her loose in the yard with the other domestic cats.    That same month, unbeknownst to me, my friend and secretary embezzled 600,000.00 and when my husband’s million dollar life insurance renewal came in, she changed the beneficiary to herself.  Don couldn’t read and didn’t know what he was signing.

Four months later I discovered the embezzling and Don ordered her to sign the properties back over to us.  She refused and Don mysteriously disappeared on August 18, 1997.  She tried to have the courts appoint her as the conservator of the estate, but lost.  It was during this time that I discovered what she had done to Don’s insurance policy.  The courts reversed that as well, but chose to divide the insurance money six ways across Big Cat Rescue and all of his estranged family members, rather than honor his original intention, which was to have it fund the sanctuary.

In the end I got back about $300,000.00 of the embezzled property and still had the cat.

The cat was the only good thing to come out of that 17 year friendship with Anne.

That cat was Mia.



Maya was very special to me. I used to refer to her on tours as “the tiger police.” She approached every tour that passed as if she was policing the situation to make sure no one, but no one, put their hands on that barricade fence. Not only would she talk to the tours and ride the golf cart, she would wind herself through the tour guests like a security guard doing crowd control at Bengali’s enclosure. She commanded attention and always got it…from the tour guests and even from the tour guides…myself included. She never ceased to entertain and I will miss her a lot. But, Miss Maya has some pretty awesome tigers to attend to up in heaven. Good-bye sweet girl…….gone but never forgotten..Regina, Volunteer Senior Keeper

It was so nice to see your pictures of Mia as I remember her best. I always thought of that talky little cat with the affectionate phrase of “fat and happy.” Imagine my shock when I left her that way in June, and returned to BCR in September to suddenly see her a fraction of her former self, ravaged by the sudden effects of the advanced age that she hid so well to that point. None the less, Mia was still the vocal, outgoing, affectionate cat she had always been, and not the least bit diminished in spirit. Just days before she departed, I enjoyed the pleasure of her company when I stopped into the office and she demanded her due of attention. I held her frail frame in my arms, and she talked to me, and told me all about it, purring happily for our few minutes together until she said she had enough. I was so very glad that I had that opportunity and that she took the time to so sweetly say good bye..Beth, Volunteer Keeper


Whether you knew her as Maya or Mia, it didn’t matter, she was still a fixture for the volunteers and guests at Big Cat Rescue. She was as much an ambassador of our mission as any other animal we have and we’ll miss her so much now that she’s passed on. For those of us who spend our days caring and loving big cats that we never touch, Maya was always there to graciously step in and accept all the loving touches we could heap on her.

If you guided a tour, you always had to pay her dues when you traveled through “her” territory. If you stopped your golf cart, you always had to sit just a little bit longer while she climbed aboard and collected the petting you owed her. If you demonstrated operant conditioning, you always had to try to redirect the guests’ attention from her to the tiger in front of them, which was usually hard to do since she stole the show – literally. If you fed the domestic cats on property, you always spent more time with her to make sure she got a full meal. She was such a special cat, one in a million. Every guest laughed at the little, brave feline who lived among the tigers and leopards and snuggled up in the sun in the memorial garden. I’ll never walk by that area without seeing that little calico and missing her, missing her deeply…Julie, Volunteer Senior Keeper
She was definitely a cat that I will always remember at my stay at BCR. I remember feeding her in the evenings and mornings and sitting with her while chasing away the peacocks. I also remember in the mornings for operant, I would always listen for that familiar “meow” which meant she was close by. I still remember the one morning that Fran and I were working with Alex and Windsong and, while working with Alex, I heard “meow”, looked up, and there was Maya sitting right next to me watching! But that was Maya, always looking for love! And you are right, she definitely stole the tours! Bengali would be chuffing away and all the tour guests would be crowded around Maya, trying to pet her. I will miss maneuvering the golf carts around her, and as soon as you would stop, she would hop right on with you!
She will certainly be missed..Erin, BCR Intern
I will never forget her! I can see in my mind every single moment I spent with her! Especially the one about spending more time with her making sure she eats a good meal! I remember a long time ago, when I was going to feed the omnivores, I used to give her marshmallows…she was crazy about them… and it was funny to watch her chew on those sweets… She was “fat” back then… hopefully not because of me… but even if it was my fault… at least she was so happy and she enjoyed them!!! She was the very first sweet kitty I would always look forward to see every morning when I was going to click Shatia…
I still look for her whenever I go to Shatia… sometimes I think she is right behind me… watching me and talking to me… She sure was one in a million! I do miss her so much..Marie, Volunteer Senior Keeper
What can I not say about Maya? She was adorable and the most precious little feline I have ever come to know. On a back up tour when I was driving the golf cart, she jumped right up to tag along for most of the tour, just sat in my lap or in the passenger seat enjoying the view and attention she always got. I will miss her so much – her sweetness and her little charm. Oh Maya, you are now with all the others from Big Cat Rescue. I know they will all watch over you. I will miss you so much, you sweet little darling..Diane V, Volunteer Trainee


Mia-Maya was always “Mama Maya” to me. On my first guest visit to BCR, she floored me. Absolutely a clone of my all time favorite cat, “Mama” deceased for many years. She was the hike leader and “guest relations supervisor” of a country inn I had. Startled, I whispered “Mama” and lo, Maya cat came running. Scooping her up in my arms I buried my nose in her fur. She smelled outdoorsy and fresh, just like “Mama”. The tortie coloring and plush coat were identical. I called her “Mama Maya”; we never missed out on some quality time. She made me wonder about reincarnation… Maya was Mama in every respect.
Often happy hitching a ride on the golf cart and eager for those special treats. I marvel and wonder about her “wild” life with the big guys…she was intimidated by no other beings, very well socialized, equally comfortable with humans and beasts. Recently, she curled up next to me at the memorial garden as I meditated about losing other friends. Maya and Mama may be one now. And we may meet them again…..Merrill, Volunteer Partner


When I entered the area I call Tiger Woods on my tours, I always knew Maya would appear. I would tell the group that we rehearsed it that way. She would always appear when I was telling them about the Extreme Killer Cat show on Animal Planet. The whole time I’m describing the criteria to be the “extreme killer cat” Maya is meowing and begging me for the treats I always have in my pocket for her. Finally, when I ask the crowd “Who is the most extreme killer cat?” They are amazed when I point to Maya! I thank Maya for appearing at the appropriate time and for being such a good example of the “domestic cat.” When she would continue to follow me (for the treats), I would tell my group that she also wants to remind us that “Hundreds of years ago, the domestic cat was worshipped as a GOD.” Maya did not want us to forget that! Her timing was impeccable and even though I knew her ulterior motive was the treats in my pocket, no one knew that but me and Maya. I can’t go into Tiger Woods without thinking of her and that annoying but beautiful “meow” she used to greet me with. My tours will never be the same without her…Pat, Volunteer Senior Partner


I can’t imagine a tour without my precious furry backup. I will so miss her much anticipated interruptions; when I had to stop to give her a treat to protect my group from our “ferocious” attack cat. Her territory always was and always will be hers. I cannot walk the path without sensing her presence there……Deborah, Volunteer Keeper

May your journey to Rainbow Bridge in Angels arms be swift and peaceful.
May the sunlight always shine warm upon your face, and the grass be soft upon your paws.
May you always hear laughter and purrs, and the sweet liquor of tuna juice be upon your tongue.
May the perfume of cat nip fill your nose, and your heart be filled with our love.
May you find peace and serenity at Rainbow Bridge, and dear friends to share it with until we meet again.
We will continue to hold you near in our hearts and in our thoughts.
We will pass on your legacy of love and courage in all we do and with all we are.
For you have taught us well what it means to be a friend.
Let us now carry the pain, and go be at peace my friend.
You have earned your Angel wings.
You will be missed dearly, but you will never be forgotten.

Maya was a true ‘in your face’ feline who prowled her own special area down by the tigers. No matter what time of day you went down to that area, she was always there with that familiar Maya meow. She would try to take over every tour, doing everything in her power to get visitors’ attention away from the tigers and leopards. I loved the way that she would run ahead of you, tail up and breeches on show. She would make a beeline for the golf cart and try her best to hitch a lift whenever possible. One of her greatest fans never even met her. My friend Alison Green, who lives in Birmingham, UK, has never been to BCR, yet each time I came home from the sanctuary, she would beg for yet another photo of Maya – not lions or tiger, just Maya! Getting photos of Maya was never easy – as soon as you crouched down to set the camera she would jump up and run towards you – hence many of my photos are aerial shots! I will miss you Maya, visiting tigers will never be quite the same without this very special ‘little tiger’ running up to greet me….Daphne, Volunteer Keeper Trainee/Advocat



Maya was kind of like another tour guide. She often “escorted” my tours from TJ and Bella around to Rose the Caracal. And she always had so much to say! It was as though her message was, “What’s so interesting about a tiger? Look at me!” The guests loved it when she joined them for a ride on the golf cart. What I loved about Maya was that she always seemed to be able to take everything in stride. I often felt like she was really kind of a guardian to the cats in her territory, and I’ve no doubt she is now keeping good company with many of the big cats that we have lost over the years. Thank you Maya, for being a good friend….Sharyn, Volunteer Partner


MIA-GUARDIAN OF “LITTLE BACK” Her domain included bobcats, binturongs, lynx, caracals, leopards, tigers and the “Garden of our Loved and Lost.” She’d greet you gingerly, meowing, with tail to the sky! In earlier years, you could find her atop the old “E” center – now, provision outpost. She seemed to enjoy her claimed territory – she rarely left it unattended. We miss you, Mia. You made us smile. Please tell us you’re planning your replacement while enjoying your heavenly home….Rosie, Volunteer Keeper

More Memorials at https://bigcatrescue.org/category/memorials/

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