African servals, exotic cats as pets

Cougars
The Last Pet Cougar, by Amy Rasmussen
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Photo Courtesy of Arnold's Exotics.

As any devoted Cougar owner knows, there is no stronger bond in the human-cat world than the relationship between a loving cougar and its owner.

She melted my heart every day.

She sucked on my finger, put her arm over me in bed and cuddled—boy did she cuddle, and purr the loudest and longest purr of any of my cats.

She was housebroken, sweet, and domesticated.

Although she now spends almost all of her time outdoors, we are still able to have an occasional sleepover.

She is still the sweetest and most loving creature with the most beautiful greenish amber distinctive eyes and most impish, inquisitive look of all of God’s creatures.

I obviously love my Cougar, and I think you would too if you had a chance to meet her.

I think it is useful for people to know that Cougars can bond with people and provide that same magic of intimacy and devotion that other pet lovers know and experience.

I fear that at the rate ban laws are being passed, in the not too distant future experiencing the love of a pet cougar will be nothing more then a ‘once upon a time’. . . fairytale story.

I believe that Cougars can be one of the most loving and tame of all the wild cats—and—I have heard other Cougar owners say this also.





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Stories about Cougars being sweet, loving pets are not common in public press. Although many Cougar owners are delighted to tell such stories; unfortunately, their stories are ignored because of the sensational stories that surface when Cougars and people meet unexpectedly—many times with tragic although hyperbolized consequences. My story provides some balance to those stories that characterize Cougars as dangerous, wild animal that can never be trusted. As any devoted Cougar owner knows, there is no stronger bond in the human-cat world than the relationship between a loving cougar and its owner. I have one of those stories. And the star of my story is a small, 70-pound cougar called Dawn.

Dawn came to me by accident. She was an unplanned mating between a female Florida panther and a male North American cougar. My friend had rescued the female panther from one of those owners that has created a horrible image for private owners across this county. Notwithstanding the good intentions of my friend to rescue the panther, she was not able to keep her male North American cougar from doing what nature has programmed him to do. Dawn was an unintended consequence.

My friend called me and asked for help. I already had my own small menagerie of cats (a tiger, Canadian Lynx, Caracal, and a few Servals). I did not really want to expand with more cats, but after a couple days of urging from my friend, I relented.

I met Dawn when she was 10 days old. Her eyes were still closed, but I immediately fell in love and I knew she was going to be beautiful. I took Dawn home. She lived in my house and slept with me for the next two years. She melted my heart every day. She sucked on my finger, put her arm over me in bed and cuddled—boy did she cuddle, and purr the loudest and longest purr of any of my cats. She was housebroken, sweet, and domesticated.

She did not start to attack the upholstery until she was about two and half years old. At that time, I had no choice; I had to give her more time outdoors. Although she now spends almost all of her time outdoors, we are still able to have an occasional sleepover. And although her sleeping arrangements have changed, she is still the sweetest and most loving creature with the most beautiful greenish amber distinctive eyes and most impish, inquisitive look of all of God’s creatures. I obviously love my Cougar, and I think you would too if you had a chance to meet her.

The bond between cats and people is hard to explain. For those abnormal people in the world that don’t covet such a relationship it is impossible to explain. For those normal people in the world that treasure their relationship with cats, I have to say that a bond with a Cougar is the ultimate. It is not macho…it is an intimacy on a similar but different plane with human relationships. My relationship with Dawn does not surpass the human type of love between a woman and her husband…her children…her own mother or father, but it is comparable providing richness and fullness.

I do not want to get mushy and gushy, but I think it is useful for people to know that Cougars can bond with people and provide that same magic of intimacy and devotion that other pet lovers know and experience. I would like to suggest that a bond with a Cougar is better than the bond with domesticated animals—after all I did live with a mutt for 17 years that was my best friend and almost a sibling—but my relationship with Dawn is even stronger. Such relationships are hard to explain, but I can unequivocally say that raising a Cougar is my most rewarding experience in a life rich with animal relationships.

It’s getting more and more impossible to legally own and raise a Cougar kitten. I fear that at the rate ban laws are being passed, in the not too distant future experiencing the love of a pet cougar will be nothing more then a ‘once upon a time’. . . fairytale story. But if you happen to qualify for a state or federal permit, you must also possess the luxury of time and financial resources necessary to devote to the Cougar’s care and upbringing.

Not everyone is cut out to be a Cougar owner, one only has to visit some of the exotic cat sanctuaries and see how many pet cougars have been discarded to know that many people find the responsibility overwhelming. And I am not saying that all Cougars are the perfect pets. But I can positively say that I know at least one of them has become a love of my life. I believe that Cougars can be one of the most loving and tame of all the wild cats—and—I have heard other Cougar owners say this also. I have been told that the same can be said for Cheetahs, but that will have to be a story told by someone else that may also be able to describe the genetic similarities between Cougars and Cheetahs—they have many similar features.

Maybe a follow-on story could also put the number of Cougar attacks on humans in perspective and provide a factual input to the feeding frenzy of the media to sensationalize animal attacks—both cats and dogs—on people. I am not qualified, nor do I have the desire to comment on the complex interplay between man’s Neanderthal instincts (e.g., sense of fear and drive to survive), new societal pressures to titillate the news’ media with a “gawkish” fascination with horror, and man’s insensitivity to an increasingly stressed environment. Maybe that’s why I treasure my special bond with Dawn—it is a simple relationship between a woman and one of God’s special creatures… providing a wonder and a special emotion that defies all the confusion in this increasingly complicated world.

Cougars, as pets, are not for everyone. They are not pets for my grandchildren or a “photo-op” for an occasional visitor, but in my world with proper caging and a healthy appreciation for the hidden danger that is always there with a wild animal, I have one of God’s most “Purrfect Pets.”


Many thanks to Amy Rasmussen for allowing the use of this article on ExoticCatz.com.com in cooperation with the Feline Conservation Federation. This article is copyrighted 2005 by Amy Rasmussen, and originally appeared in the FCF Newsletter. All rights are reserved. FCF members receive a bi-monthly newsletter containing a wealth of articles like this one, and I highly recommend becoming an FCF member to learn more about exotic felines.


 

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