When I was three years old, I baffled my parents when I started mumbling the phrase ‘fully textured for cats’, when I was in 5th grade I did a report on the history of cats, I used to have grandiose dreams of owning a Bengal Tiger a la Jasmine from Aladdin, and yes, in fact, I have been to a cat show. If you’ve been privy to this blog for more than a few months, then you most likely have seen the multiple barrages of adorable kitty pictures and know that I’m currently a proud owner of four little fur babies – Stella, Daisy, Loki and Marley. Cat lady supreme? It’s debatable, but yes – big or small, young or old, fluffy, puffy, plush and everything in between – I definitely have love for all the kitties. So, when my fiance told me there was a large cat sanctuary near where we were vacationing this past weekend, I couldn’t help but squeal like a little school girl.
On Saturday morning – or as I prefer: Caturday morning – we packed our bags and hit the road to the gorgeous and awe inspiring Sequoia National Forest but before we did we made a special pit stop in a sleepy town called Dunlap to prowl around Project Survival’s Cat Haven. Sitting on 100 acres of sprawling wilderness, the PS Cat Haven has been working diligently towards large cat conservation and education since 1993. Founded by Dale Anderson, the site is host to a wide variety of cats – from Lions, Lynx, Amur Tigers, Cheetahs, Bobcats, Servals, Lions and a stunning White Bengal Tiger
If you feel anything like I do about Seaworld and most Zoos, than you’ll understand that in the beginning it might be hard to see the animals in the size of cages that they’re in. But, please know the cages are held to regulation and there were several decommissioned areas based on the same principal. Not only that, but the animals receive daily enrichment – a fancy word for boxes, treats and toys – hunks of meat and have an outdoor playpen to roam around in, and for a few of the litters of animals – potentially even a playmate.Now, I wasn’t able to get too close to get a picture (and rightfully so, with the cages and barriers), but these are some of the beauties that I fell whiskers over paws for.
Rose and Samba were a pair of Jaguar sisters, and completely playful and adorable – their only competition was Nacho and Libre, who turned out to be their brothers for a little a few years later! And of course, I loved the White Bengal tiger!
For being a tried and true cat lover, I actually learned a lot – but there were two fun feline facts that stood out to me…
For all us cat lovers that sit there and talk to our cats, did you know: cats that purr can’t roar, and cats that roar can’t purr. Your felines vocal proclivities are driven by a bone at the back of their throat, the more rigid the bone – the more of a Roar!
Secondly, the Panther is a misnomer – Panthers are melanistic leopards and jaguars. Melanism is a recessive genetic phenotype that occurs in a small variety of animals, and is why we get the elusive black flamingo, black wolves, black snakes and black squirrels and ‘black panthers’. In most cases, this was an adaptive trait to help the species survive over time.
In large cats, this happens within the ‘Agouti Gene’ and results in various species – like leopards, bobcats, servals, and jaguars – presenting with darker pigment in the normally orange areas.Though they look black from afar, the result is that deliciously chocolate brown coat with even darker markings that “Black Panthers” are known for. On the flip side, this gene doesn’t present in domestic cats – meaning your elegant black house cat really is black.
For more about Project Survival Cat Haven, head to their website or socials: