I’m not really sure it would be prudent to elaborate where exactly was I when I took this picture. Let’s just say I was at the CARE facility in Bridgeport, TX; CARE stands for Center for Animal Research and Education, and it’s a large rescue shelter for big cats. The man in charge Derek was kind enough to show me around and introduce me to most of over 50 big cats they have on the property.

Spotty, Age 14

Spotty here is a gorgeous adult leopard male, who was just lounging around on a warm Saturday morning. You have to be a little careful about overusing the adjective “gorgeous” when you talk about CARE cats, but they are extremely well cared for, in stark contrast to their immediate pasts. Most cats were kept as pets and either neglected or abused; some kept in extremely small enclosures or even dog kennels. The more fortunate ones were kept in zoos, until those zoos became victims of a tough economy and the cats had nowhere to go. Now, at CARE, they live the good life, playing and napping and pouncing on their favorite treats – chicken leg quarters.

Raven, Age 13

Spotty’s room mate is Raven, seen in the photo to the right. Raven is a slightly younger female black leopard who took the term “lounging around” to a new level… literally. She was up at an elevated shelf looking lazily over at Ace, their third neighbor. Spending some time at CARE reminded me why I love cats, even though I’m a dog person. These guys, just like house cats, are athletic and aloof, lazy but playful. If you’d like to see them, visit CARE as soon as you can – and remember to donate; those chicken leg quarters don’t buy themselves.