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Penelope, a female Asian leopard cat, was a tiny 5 month old kitten when she arrived at the sanctuary in September of 2023. The Asian leopard cat is a small wild cat native to continental South, Southeast, and East Asia.

Dozens of exotic cats were saved from a home in Texas after authorities say they were found living in deplorable conditions. Authorities said the breeder/owner of the cats, who’d had many animal welfare violations in the past, had recently passed away. The USDA then reached out to The Wildcat Sanctuary (TWS) to organize the rescue of the 24 Asian leopard cats found there, including 3 kittens and one with a leg amputation.

All the cats were initially taken to the Houston SPCA where they were cared for and vetted. The Bengal domestic cats would eventually be adopted out to homes, but the SPCA needed help in finding facilities to care for the 100% wild Asian leopard cats.

Sadly, rescues like this are becoming all too common. Breeding and purchasing of Asian leopard cats and other wild cats is fueled by social media since they have an exotic look.  Breeding is very lucrative with cats costing $5,000 and more.

Their stunning beauty has caused overbreeding and impulse purchases. But too often, they end up cast aside due to unwanted behaviors. TWS is one of the few sanctuaries in the country that specializes in these magnificent cats.

The sanctuary’s staff flew to the Houston SPCA immediately to care for the Asian leopard cats.  TWS’ Executive Director then organized the transfer of all the wildcats to reputable sanctuaries ranging across the country from Oregon to South Carolina.

Our staff drove roundtrip from Minnesota to Houston, Texas to pick up this precious cargo. It didn’t go exactly as planned though. On the way back, a deer leapt out in front of our transport van. Sadly, the impact killed the deer and the damage to the van made it undriveable.

While they waited in Iowa, we sent 2 more staff members down to pick them all up for a safe journey back to the sanctuary.

The initial plan was for TWS to accept eight of the Asian leopard cats. But, after one of a bonded pair became critically ill and passed away, the sanctuary accepted the other one left behind, too.

Many of the cats didn’t even have names, but now they do. Welcome to Aiden, Apollo, Eve, Mindy, Minerva, Penelope, Rue, Sam and Ziva! They’ll finally be able to live out their days wild at heart…and loved.

Life at the Sanctuary

She’s willing to be out, but not very fond of people yet. But who can blame this little girl? She’s been through so much in her young life already.

Before she went to the Houston SPCA, we learned that Penelope had been very picky with food. And she continues to be, so we’re working on that with her.

She keeps to herself a lot. Though she’s curious about the other kittens, she prefers her quiet space. Right now, she’s a passive, observant girl. We’ll see if her personality changes as she gets used to her new home with us. It will be nice seeing her blossom.

After Penelope settled in, we decided to have playdates between her and some other Asian Leopard cats. We were so happy when she successfully merged with Sam, Mindy & Eve! Now, those four have company and are learning more and more that humans can be good.

How You Can Help

Our sponsorship program is what makes top notch care possible for our residents, like Penelope. Would you consider becoming her sponsor parent?  Or even a one-time donation toward her care would help so much, too.

You’ll find buttons at the top of this page if you’d like to help Penelope in a very special way.  Thank you!