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You are here: Derek and Cassie's Adoption Story

Derek and Cassie's Adoption Story


When it comes to adopting animals at CARE, the saying goes “The cat picks you”.

I really had no idea what to expect on my first tour of CARE.  My friend Raquel told me that Alan Ayo, a DJ at The Edge where she worked, gave tours of a local big cat sanctuary and asked if I’d be interested in going with her.  I’ve always had a fascination with nature’s predators, be it big cats, sharks, or what have you so the answer was an easy “yes”.  I was absolutely stunned at the size of the facility, the number of cats, and the way they were all looked after.  I was also surprised that such a place was less than an hour drive from my house!  After the tour, Ayo explained about the adoption program and I knew I wanted to get involved.

Fast forward to today: I’ve been Cassie the mountain lion’s “adoptive dad” for about 4 years.  Thinking back to the drive home that first day, I can remember leaning towards adopting one of the gargantuan striped male tigers instead of a comparatively small, plain, overgrown house cat (for those that are unaware, mountain lions can’t roar like the other big cats.  Instead, they purr, meow, and chirp just like your average neighborhood tabby, only louder.)  I have no regrets though.  While Cassie may lack wild-looking stripes and spots, she’s blessed with an overabundance of personality.  I drive out to see her as often as I can, which is about 3 weekends per month.  At this point she knows me by both sight and voice; bounding out of her cubbyhole and up onto one of the platforms by the fence to greet me with the aforementioned chirps and purrs. She shows her daddy a lot of love, which I always return in the form of chicken treats and plenty of attention.  Most days, she prefers the attention to the chicken, believe it or not!  Even being middle aged, she’s still quite kittenishly playful. Most days she’s quite happy to bounce around the ramps & platforms of her enclosure doing tricks for treats.  Other days, she’ll knock her balls around or carry a pumpkin up to the top platform only to knock it off and complain after the splattered remains aren’t fit to play with anymore.

It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience all the way around, and I’d recommend anyone so inclined to get involved.  Just remember that the more time you put in with your cat, the more comfortable you’ll both be and the more you’ll get out of it.  I can guarantee that you’ll always leave in a better mood than you walked in with.

So, how did I end up adopting an overgrown house cat like Cassie instead of a big stripey tiger?  On my second trip out, the cat picked the parent!

Derek Blakely

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