Thousand of cats find homes in cat rescue operations. They are not always the small pets people usually have in their homes. Sometimes, the cats in question are big ones, such as mountain lions or tigers. Purchased through the black market and bought because they are unique creatures, big cat breeds start small and cuddly, but soon grow to large proportions that most owners are not prepared to deal with.
Big ones rescue steps in when the owners find they can not handle their exotic pets any longer. Either the owner abandons the big cats, thinking that because the cat was “wild” to begin with, it can easily fend for itself, or they start to neglect the animal.
Worse, the animal attacks someone. The authorities rush in and do theirs best to remedy the situation, sometimes having to put the animal down on the spot. If the big ones are lucky, the authorities see fit to send the cat rescue center.
A zoo is not an option. Many times, this is where the trade started. Unscrupulous zoos breed big ones in captivity to increase attendance at the zoo because the public enjoys seeing new babies. When the felines are grown, the public loses interest, and the zoo can not support the larger cat.
The animal is sold off to private brokers who then turn around and sell the animals to the public. Anyone might end up with the feline. Even worse, that owner might try to breed the cat to have another cub or to sell cubs to his friends. When this happens, the cycle begins all over again.
Supply and demand are the two largest contributing factors to big cat breeds ending up in a cat rescue. The breeders will keep breeding the cats, and the public will continue to buy them. People have a fascination with getting close to an exotic feline. What the public fails to realize is that there is a massive responsibility that goes along with caring for big ones.
The cats were never meant to be pets to begin with. You can not keep them indoors, and keeping a big one outdoors is not much better. These cat breeds play rough. They are hunters, and thousands of years of instinct tells them they are the top of the food chain.
That baby tiger will not “bond” with your toddler. This is not a Walt Disney movie. You can bet that when the tiger reaches maturity, your child, your domestic house pet, and you may be labeled as lunch.
Big cats have been kept in cages that are far too small for them. The minimum size required by law of an animal’s cage is one that is large enough for the animal to stand up and turn around in.
We all cry out in anger when we hear of Vietnam Veterans who had been tortured in “tiger cages”. Why should we subject large felines to the same type of torture?
A big cat rescue shelter can offer a better quality of life for the abandoned animal. Many big cats that do reach the rescue stage are suffering from malnutrition.
Others who might have been in show business are nervous wrecks from over-stimulation or are nearly blind from a life of flashing light bulbs and the bright lights of photo shoots. The people who run the Shelters have the means and experience to raise the animal properly and meet the cat’s nutritional requirements.
Only eight states have passed bans on owning big cat breeds as pets since 2005. The number of deaths related to owning a big cat continues to grow, as all that’s required for an individual to own a big cat for a commercial venture in the United States is very low and a permit from the USDA.
Breaking the cycle for responsible preservation of big cats for future generations is an important factor in their survival.