Raindance came to Big Cat Rescue from a fur farm in Minnesota. We had ordered six Bobcat kittens by phone, but were told that we must pick them up in person. We traveled to Minnesota, and when we arrived, we saw a sign out front that said "Fur Farm". We thought that the sign probably only applied to the mink and foxes being raised there (although that is bad enough).
We asked what they do with the Bobcats, Canadian, and Siberian Lynx kittens that aren't sold to pet homes, and we were told that they would be "harvested" at one year for their fur. We asked how many more kittens were there and found out that the 50 left would be slaughtered the next year.
We came home with 56 kittens that Spring and life has never been the same. They were all under four weeks of age and many had to be fed every two hours. We employed family, friends, and anyone who could hold a bottle to keep them all fed and clean. Raindance was one of those kittens. We later rescued the adults.
Fast forward 20 years:
Raindance has suffered from collapsed ankles when she got into her twenties, but has otherwise been very healthy for most of her life.
At the age of 22 she stopped eating so we did diagnostics that showed her to be in kidney failure and we found some bad teeth. We extracted the bad teeth, but getting her to eat is proving difficult. It is always a difficult situation because we give the cats medication to manage their pain after surgery, but those medications often cause cats to not want to eat. We give appetite stimulants, if we can, but those are pills and you have to get the cat to eat in order to get the pill in them.
We break their meals up into smaller feedings and feed off a stick, which all cats seem to prefer for some odd reason. In Raindance's case we know her kidneys are going and that can make her not feel like eating. We don't want to give up on her too quickly though because we don't know if it is the teeth, the pain meds or the kidneys that are keeping her from eating.
July 5, 2015 It is with a heavy heart that I must report that Raindance has left us to join her mate who died in 1994. Thank you ALL for giving her the best 22 years any captive bobcat could have.
When she stopped eating last week we did diagnostics and found some bad teeth and very bad kidneys. We hoped that by removing the bad teeth, as we did for Little Feather who had the same issues, that we might be able to turn it around for Raindance. We had to use appetite stimulants to get her to eat after the dental, but yesterday she couldn't keep the food down and today she refused any food or even the 'cicles she loves so much. Cats are so stoic, it's always hard to tell, but she appeared to be in pain and feeling nauseous from her failing kidneys. You could see it in her eyes and her countenance that she was done with this life.
I went to her web page to gather information for her tribute which will be posted July 12 (please don't post on social sites until then) and noticed that neither there, nor on this site, was any mention of how she got her name. I thought you might like to know.
Here is my diary entry from Feb. 14, 1994:
Valentine’s Day and I’m being loved to death by a Bobcat. Raindance has a coat like water spotted silk and a personality to match. Only her mate, Bob Martin, was sweeter. He died a few weeks ago from Hepatic Lipidosis and Raindance still holds on by a hope and a prayer. I loved Bob Martin and mourn his passing.
Bob Martin came by his name as an inside joke. (my late husband, Don, had lied to me when we met and told me his name was Bob Martin) Danny Lewis (Don Lewis' son) wanted a pair of kittens to raise, so I selected him two kittens from the fur farm rescue.
Five months later Danny was separated from his wife Janice and brought the bobcats back to us. We couldn’t believe these were the same two cats. They didn’t have names so we named the female Raindance and the male Bob Martin.
The problem was that they were SO obese that when they started getting a decent diet here, they lost weight too quickly. The fat clogged their arteries so badly that Bob Martin died and Raindance just barely survived.
Raindance got her name because she loved to splash around in the rain. She would run and pounce into any muddy puddle she could. By the time she was done, you couldn't even tell who she was, other than her bright, happy eyes gleaming behind a mud soaked coat. The other cats would run from her when she was in muddy-up-and-pounce mode. She quickly became a huge favorite at the sanctuary and it may have been largely due to the fact that she had to be groomed so much, given her proclivity for dancing in the rain. We stopped handling cats circa 2003 because we felt it sent a very bad message and would make people want them as pets. They are only lovable like this for the first year or two, and then they become who they were meant to be; top level predators.
Despite being hands off with her for the past dozen years, Raindance was still probably our biggest volunteer recruiter. I can't tell you how many times someone told me the reason they were volunteering here is that they came on a tour and Raindance spoke to them. She's never been a talker, like Reise, but she spoke with her heart. Yesterday I was in awe of a black and gold butterfly, that was bigger than my hand, and seemed to be everywhere on property. Perhaps her kin, calling her home. We will all miss this exceptional bobcat, but her spirit will forever be in our hearts and in the ether of our mission.
Most of our bobcats were rescues from fur farms. The deal Our Co-Founder made with the three fur farms we discovered in the U.S. was that he would pay top dollar for every cat and kitten they had as long as the fur farmer would agree to never buy and breed cats again for slaughter. It came at a time that the public outcry was against the fur industry. Many of these animals were purchased at auctions where the uncaring owners were dumping the cats with no concern about their welfare. There is much controversy over whether we did the right thing by paying the ransom for these cats. We still accept many unwanted cats each year, but do not pay for them and typically require that their owner surrender their license, in an attempt to keep people from just trading in their cats each year for a newer, cuter model. We have to turn away more than 100 cats each year due to a lack of space and funds and the lack of regulation of the exotic pet trade. Read more about our Evolution of Thought HERE
Tributes to Raindance Bobcat
Deidra Ritchie Jul 16, 2015
Rainy, I first met you in April of 2001 when I brought my then just turned 10 year old daughter to see BCR for the first time. We got to go into your enclosure on the way out and pet you if you wanted, and you let us pet you ! You touched my heart then and on every visit after I always enjoyed seeing you frolic in your enclosure and greet guests with your pretty smile.
Rainy I will always remember your zest for life and will miss you so much.You were loved by all who came to know you. Run free sweet girl.
Sharon Dower Jul 16, 2015
It was always so much fun to watch her "work" the visitors on tour. She would stretch up on her enclosure walls and show off her beautiful belly. Always so friendly and interested in everything around her. That area of the sanctuary will never be the same. She will be missed by all her knew her. Love
Bonnie Farago Jul 13, 2015
I first started falling in love with Raindance when I began cleaning small cats in 2012. She was always the one to greet me and follow me around while I was "pooping" her cage. She cheered me up no matter what mood I was in. Raindance touched my heart even more when I lost a dear friend to cancer. The following weeks were tough, Raindance always seemed to know. She would come over to me and sit with me. I would say hi rainy! I had tears in my eyes and she would stay with me until my eyes were dry, and then it almost seemed like she would look at me and say....it's going to be okay now. She would then head back to her den. As her sight and hearing began to really fail her, it was then that I realized her true age, but her spirit never faultered. She gave every day her all until her very last breath. Life gave her captivity, but that never stopped her from being the most sweetest bob cat and toughest little fighter.
So Dear Raindance,
I miss you every single day. I choke up when I walk past your enclosure. I have you tattooed on my leg and forever imprinted on my heart. Thank you for being one of the reasons I am where I am today. I know now you can see and hear. ..climb trees and catch rabbits! Until we meet again. I will always remember you as one of my favorite cats. RIP
Sherry Levesque Jul 13, 2015
It is with such a heavy heart I have to say goodbye to our beloved Raindance - such a beautiful girl I can't eve begin to express how I miss her - I am writing this with tears in my eyes - I knew this would happen as soon as I tried to say how I loved her - so beautiful and a tribute to what BCR is all about - saving those who can not save themselves
from the cruelties of others who don't care as we do. Thank You Raindance for so many years of your beautiful soul - you touched many!
Unknown Jul 13, 2015
I’ve loved you since I first saw your sweet face, back in 2007. It was an unrequited love, but it was unwavering. When I came back to volunteer last year, you were the first one I looked for and every day I looked for you. Walking by your cat-a-tat the other day while cleaning, the tears started streaming down my face, intermingled with the sweat from a typical steamy hot day so that no one noticed my tears. I remembered how you ignored me until that special day just a couple of weeks ago. I was cleaning your enclosure and talking to you when you came up to me and started rubbing your chin on the cage wire and followed me around the enclosure. I melted and upon my return home, I emailed my sister about the event. If it weren’t for Carole rescuing you, you would have had a short, brutal life ending violently for some human’s greed. I would have never known the sweet essence that was you in a little bobcat body. You were loved by many and will continue to live in the hearts and minds of all of us. Rest in peace, sweet little one, and when my time has come, please save a dance in the rain with me. Love you forever, your paw prints on my heart.
Sharon Henry Jul 12, 2015
Sweet little Raindance, oh how you are missed. I miss how you would always come and say hello as I cleaned your enclosure. I miss how you would rub up against the fence as I whistled softly to you. I miss the way your eyes seemed to be twinkling as I told you over and over that you were loved and I miss how you could always place a silly smile on my face. You taught me to always make time to laugh. No matter how busy the day, there is always time to stop and smile. Yes, you were a special girl and I promise, when I think of you, I will smile. Love you Rain Rain.
Elizabeth Pullan Jul 12, 2015
My Favorite bobcat and the first one that touched my heart as a red shirt volunteer, you will be missed Rainy.
BethAnn Bluder Jul 12, 2015
You were one of the first Bobcats I fell in love with. Such a sweet face! When Rich and I were first Red shirts we could go in to clean your enclosure. For some reason you loved my shoes and would always rub on them. You were always willing to get up and greet a volunteer . I will never forget you sweet Rainy.
Regina Rinaldi Jul 12, 2015
Rain, Rain, go away, come again some other day. It was a rhyme my mother said everytime it rained. Now it's happened. Our Rainy is gone. She was the cutest, chunkiest, sweetest bobcat in the world. How I loved the cute little bobcat who would always try and pee on me, but only succeeded twice. Did I move? No. Because she tried so hard to pee on me in the first place, I had to let her win. I used to call them, showers from Rain. She would turn around and look at me and I swear she smiled as if she was saying ha, ha, Regina I got you. How can you deny that cute face.
You are forever loved, and will be missed. Run, Raindance, Run.
More Memorials at http://bigcatrescue.org/category/memorials/