Wild Cat Strut

Last weekend, one of my dreams came true.

For the last couple of years, Steve and I have supported the Wild Cat Education and Conservation Fund, attending their fundraisers and open houses and making other contributions.

This year we decided to up the ante a little bit. We made a donation that afforded us the opportunity to go to the facility for a private tour and a paw print painting from one of the cats.

The stars pretty much aligned for us with this trip; in August, Barbara and Rob, the founders of WCECF, brought home a black leopard cub; Kanika is now 14 weeks old. Our tour started with playtime! My expertise playing with Fergus and Da Bird came in very handy as a similar, but sturdier, toy was a particular favorite.

Steve petting Kanika

Anne playing with Kanika

Kanika playing with her bird

Kanika attacking a baseball cap

Kanika also spent a lot of time playing in her cardboard box, because duh, she’s a cat. She was very adept at balancing on the edges of the open top, even as the much-loved cardboard bent and swayed under her weight.

Kanika balancing on her box (look at those spots!)

Kanika balancing on her box

Kanika balancing on her box

It should come as no surprise that Kanika was the cat we selected for the paw print painting. So, we headed outside for the art to happen.

Kanika sitting outside

She seemed comfortable enough before the paint was put out, walking calmly across the canvas.

Kanika walking on blank canvas

It was her first experience with this material, though, so she was significantly more hesitant once her paws started getting wet. It took a while, and a few time-outs, to get a decent application of paint on the canvas.

Kanika hesitating on the canvas

Kanika with a painted leash

We selected one of the canvases to have a drawing of Kanika put on, and were able to take another one home with us.

After the painting, it was time for Kanika to take a nap and for us to look around the rest of the facility. The last open house we had gone to was in July 2013, so this was the first time we saw their 13-month-old Fishing Cat, Bandhu.

Bandhu the Fishing Cat

A native of Asia, the Fishing Cat is the only cat that dives under water to catch fish. Unfortunately, as with so many other species, the Fishing Cat is in great danger of extinction as so much of its habitat is being converted into palm oil plantations.

After the Fishing Cat got fed, we turned out attention to the ocelot.

Chachi the ocelot

Chachi had been a young cat, under a year old, I think, the last time we saw him. Just a year and a half later, he’s become quite a handful. His acrobatics running up and down the tree were quite impressive.

Chachi the ocelot running up his tree

Chachi the ocelot running down his tree

Moving across the porch, we spent a little time with the cougar, Siberian Lynx, and African Leopard (separate enclosures, of course). Shoshone, the cougar, helped demonstrate that all cats look pretty goofy with their tongues sticking out. ; )

Shoshone the cougar

Natasha the Siberian Lynx

Umfazi the African Leopard

Rob with Umfazi the African Leopard

Around the corner, we got acquainted with Themba the cheetah. We were thrilled when we were invited to give him a scratch around the ears! He even started purring as my fingers got coated in cheetah ear wax!

Anne with Themba the cheetah

Steve and Anne with Themba the cheetah

Then Rob went in for a quick snuggle with Tiquanna, the Canada Lynx.

Tiquanna the Canada Lynx

Rob with Tiquanna the Canada Lynx

After communing with the cheetah, we took a break for a few snacks; yes, I washed my hands first. Then, we started to walk around the rest of the facility, stopping by another Siberian Lynx where we were allowed to give another good ear scratch.

Oksana the Siberian Lynx

Anne with Oksana the Siberian Lynx

Steve with Oksana the Siberian Lynx

There were no other hands-on cats, but we took our time hearing about the serval, caracal, bobcats, Canadian lynxes, and the snow leopard.

Nakuru the serval

Nakuru the serval

Moremi the caracal

Moremi the caracal

Moremi, the caracal, threw her lot in with Shoshone to look goofy, too.

Moremi the caracal

Takoda the bobcat

Rob with Ashakiran the snow leopard

Ashakiran the snow leopard

Zuri the serval

Zuri the serval

Zuni the bobcat

Zuni the bobcat

Cheyenne the bobcat

Cheyenne the bobcat

Finally, we headed back up to the main house where we spent a little more time playing with the refreshed and well-rested Kanika.

Kanika

Kanika playing with her stuffie

Steve playing with Kanika

After expending a bit more of her energy, we watched as Kanika got her afternoon bottle.

Kanika drinking her bottle

Kanika drinking her bottle

It was a wonderful experience and we are extremely grateful to Barbara and Rob for taking their time with us on the tour and never making us feel rushed. Best of all, our donation will be matched by Microsoft, providing funds to buy a lot of cat food.

You can read more about all the cats at http://wildcatfund.org/cats.html.

Kanika playing with a towel

Kanika making a leap