I shared an enclosure with a friendly 20-lb. female bobcat named Little Feather, who enjoyed lap time with purring.
In this recent post, dedicated to a good friend and Dharma Sister I invite her to write about her stay at Big Cat Rescue. The following piece arrived as a comment attached to my earlier post. It’s promoted to the front page because…it’s a must read and not everybody trawls the comment section so it might missed. I hope you agree that would be a great pity.
Cats and Cats
Thank you for the lovely post, Reverend. It happens that two recent mornings when the alarm rang, I was dreaming about cats. One, Brutus the Maine Coon; the other, Suzy the Brown Tabby who will always have a place in my heart.
About zoos, I understand Angie’s comment. My last visit to a zoo was in 1977, when the sight of the caged black leopard, pacing, was too much; but that’s not to say that zoos are bad.
Some years ago I visited the sanctuary called Big Cat Rescue near Tampa, Florida, home to around 200 cats coming from show business, circuses, folks who fancied pet puma, until puma began spraying…. Although enclosed, these cats have room to roam, trees to climb and scratch, excellent food, medical care, and open sky.
At that time they offered overnight rustic accommodation amongst the cats, in fact I shared an enclosure with a friendly 20-lb. female bobcat named Little Feather, who enjoyed lap time with purring. Paying guests were also invited to participate in feeding time by offering raw chicken drumsticks through the wire fences. The technique was to hold the leg and offer the thigh to the cat, who would take it from your hand and eat it (without hand, one trusted).
My group of 4 or 5 others was accompanied on the feeding round by a worker. All went smoothly until we reached a hungry puma (cougar/mountain lion — a type of cat with which I’d had a previous encounter but that’s another story). A fellow stepped up, chicken in hand, but backed away just as the cat was about to grab. Anyone who has ever fed cats knows that they aren’t terribly patient with chow at hand, this is serious business. The man (not a cat-person I could see) stepped up again, this time with the cat snarling, and not only backed away but dropped the food on the ground outside the fence where the cat could see it but not reach it.
Now, with kitty quite agitated, the gentleman bowed out and the worker asked if anyone else would like to try. Something wearing my body stepped forward! This was one mad cat, did I really want to stick my hand through the fence? Fear was there with me (although cats aren’t high on my fear index); right alongside of it was a stillness — in a flash kitty was devouring the food and the worker was saying, That’s the way to feed a cat!
It was a wonderful 24 hours — drifting off to sleep to the sound of lions, and tigers roaring their night-time tunes, visiting with a lovely lady lynx who jumped on my shoulders, seeing varieties of cats I never knew existed.
As for the feline in my bed, the season is turning away from summer and he’s once again curling up under the covers right under my chin, where he purrs loudly for 10-15 min. and then departs for outside, in the vicinity of the knees. At feeding time, he behaves in a manner very similar to that of the puma described above, and loudly.
Thank you again, Rev. Mugo, for letting the cats out.