Big Cat Rescue

My niece Madison and I went to the Big Cat Rescue in Tampa Florida over the weekend.  It was such an eye opening experience.  I didn’t realize the abundance of big cat sales in domestic areas.  In all but 18 (Eighteen!) states, it is fully LEGAL to own a big cat.  In fact, if you go searching around, you can buy them online, have them shipped to your house and watch them grow.

I would hope that anyone reading my blog would know how crazy that sounds.  In Georgia, it is illegal to own big cats (I am so thankful to our legislature for that).  However, there are many other states that allow these cats to be purchased and require minimal space for these animals.  If you aren’t in Georgia you should check out your state laws.  You never know, it could be your next door neighbor who is raising a lion or tiger (or another type of big cat).

Big Cat Rescue is a story about a mother/wife who wanted to start a llama ranch, but instead ended up with a bobcat kitten.  And when her cat became possessive of her, the breeder told her to get two more (one for her husband and child).  When she went to the breeder to pick up the cat (they didn’t ship them back then) – she realized the breeder had 56 bobcat kittens around.  He admitted that most of the cats were bred for their belly fur and would be killed on their first birthday.  She came home with all 56 baby kittens who had to be fed every two hours.  Think about that for a second, 56 cubs and multiply that every two hours for a feeding. (Read More: History)

She went on to learn about the horrible conditions that big cats are brought up in, how dangerous they are in domestic households, and created a sanctuary on her land. It took her a while, with a lot to learn, but she created a safe haven.  And seeing the sanctuary working (in person) was really amazing.

The pictures below are all of cats rescued by Big Cat Rescue.  They are in enclosures and have minimal interference by humans (besides the obvious cleanings (done with long poles) and feedings).  Most of these cats cannot be released into the wild – some were abused, some have stories of happy families until the cat played a little too rough and hurt a human.  Some are retired circus performers, but most are the result of improper placement of a big cat into a regular family – in a house like yours and mine.

It’s sad to see these cats in cages, but it’s through the fault of humans.  The trading of exotic animals is second only to the drug trade.  That’s right.  Drugs and then exotic animals.  It’s hard to believe.  You can’t tame a wild cat, it won’t grow up with your children and be best buds.  They are hunters and their instinct is one of survival – just one adult tiger costs $10,000.00 to feed for the year.  Imagine if it got hungry just once and you had small children or animals around.  If you are reading this, and are thinking of buying a cat, please don’t.  Look at these pictures and realize that these cats are all there because someone somewhere thought they could take care of this animal and they couldn’t.

For these cats, they will live out their lives at Big Cat Rescue – taken care of by people trained to work with these animals, they will receive the proper health checks and food.  Some cats that are native to Florida and the surrounding areas are reintroduced to the wild by Big Cat Rescue – but we were not allowed to see those cats.  I hope that these pictures might move you – if you know of someone that might be buying a big cat, convince them otherwise.

Interesting Facts:

~     For every white tiger you see in a show, 80 tigers were discarded due to coloring or inbreeding problems (see sign in one of the pictures).

~     Tigers are not humanely put down when not wanted, most of the time they are starved, sold to a person to kill/shoot them, then skinned.

~     Ocelot pee can eat through wood floors and drywall, one lady had to demolish her whole house after owning an Ocelot.

~     Ligers (the cross breeding of tigers/lions) never stop growing.  They become morbidly obese and die within years.

~     Black Panthers (or other black cats) are not completely black, they have spots and in the sun you can see them.

Here are some of the cats:


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  • Merrie Lawrence - Meg-
    Just a note–this is so well written and photographed. Thank you!! I have been a BCR supporter for 20 years and spreading the word is so important to the goals and support of the operation. You are awesome!!