Winter at the Sanctuary
Some of you out there, not from any snowy or cold regions are probably wondering what the heck we do with the cats in the winter. Minnesota can get very cold, below zero is the norm for most of January and February, but we don’t let that ruin our day. So far this winter season, Minnesota has been blasted with over 50 inches of snow already and it’s not even out snowiest month yet. Some of the cats like the tigers, bobcats and lynx love the snow. Others, like the lions and African servals, definitely not their favorite thing in the world, but still do pretty well. And as for myself and the other keepers, we try not to think about it too much and pack on the layers. Hand warmers are our friends.
While we have heated buildings for the majority of our residents, during the day they are still out and about having a good time. The tigersespecially like to play in the fresh snow; they can get kind of squirrely chasing each other around and making tiger angels. We still give out lots of enrichment, so no one gets any cabin fever; we can all get a little stir crazy. The African servals are my personal favorite cats to watch in the snow. They’re long, skinny legs are not made for running in the snow so they look pretty comical when I bring around the food bucket.
Luckily, a lot of our residents are native to areas with our type of climate. The Canadian lynx is built for life in deep snow. They have thick coats and large paw pads that help them stay on top of the snow, basically they have their own snowshoes.
The only downside to the snow and cold is for our unlucky residents who were declawed by their past owners. A common occurrence when exotic animals are privately owned, about 80% of our residents have been declawed. The snow makes their already sensitive feet more so. Declawing a wild cat is a very cruel practice, it is painful not only during and right after the procedure but causes life long issues such as arthritis. This is one of the reasons why we provide our residents with heated buildings, so they can rest their sore feet.
That is just a slice of what winter is like at The Wildcat Sanctuary. A lot of layers, even more shoveling and of course fun. Rarely does a day go by when no one is having fun, be it a cat or a human everyone is pretty happy here. Just ask Spring while he is stalking from under a pine tree.