Many wild cats have been driven to the brink of extinction by human activities. People can help to save wild cats by participating in cat sponsorship programs.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission (IUCN/SSC) Cat Specialist Group, nearly all wild cat species have declined dramatically due to habitat destruction and other human impacts, with many subspecies already extinct or endangered. These cats are extremely important to local ecosystems as the loss of carnivores alters a biological community’s ecological balance.
Threats to Wild Cats
In addition to having their habitats destroyed by human encroachment, many wild cats have been hunted to the point of near extinction, either for their fur or because they are perceived as threats to the livestock of local farmers. Also, there are those who capture wild cats to sell as pets.
Once populations of wild cats have been significantly reduced, they are vulnerable to being wiped out by floods, fires, epidemics and other sudden events.
The Exotic Pet Trade
The pet trade in wild cats is particularly problematic for a number of reasons. In addition to contributing to the decline in natural wild cat populations, the mother cat is often killed when the kittens are obtained, and the people who purchase wild cats to keep as pets usually find that they are unable to care for them as they grow older. Adorable cubs grow up to be large predators that may attack their owners and various houseguests and neighbours.
Keeping a wild cat is also extremely costly. Big Cat Rescue estimates that vitamins and food for one of the mid-sized wild cats would be $730USD each year, while a big cat would cost $2,500 per year to feed, and these estimates do not include exorbitant veterinary costs. Overall, the annual expense of keeping a small or medium-sized wild cat is $2,300, while a larger wild cat costs more than $8,000 per year plus $94,000 in setup costs. In addition, owners of wild cats must defrost 15 pounds of blood-soaked meat in their kitchen every single day, not to mention the red tape nightmare of obtaining various permits and extensive insurance coverage. Given these problems, it is unsurprisingly that many individuals who adopt big cats end up neglecting them or handing them over to rescue organizations.
Cat Conservation Efforts
Very little is known about many species of wild cats, and so research is required in order to develop effective conservation strategies. Also, there is little funding for cat protection or the preservation of their habitats. A number of organizations have begun to take up the challenge of wild cat preservation, running captive breeding programs for nearly extinct species, working to save habitats and conducting necessary research. In addition, proper land-use planning can ensure that cats and humans don’t come into conflict as often as they have in the past.
Sponsor a Cat
One of the most effective ways to help wild cats is to sponsor them through a legitimate organization. There are a number of organizations through which you can sponsor a wild cat, supporting captive breeding programs for nearly extinct species and other wildlife preservation activities. Such organizations include the International Society for Endangered Cats (ISEC), which sends 100% of donations received directly to a facility that supports wild cats. Big Cat Rescue also has a wild cat sponsorship program that enables donors to purchase wild cat support packages online. Below are pictures of some of the many endangered wild cats that can be helped by human sponsorship.
To learn more about wild cats, see the main Big Cats and Small Wild Cats page.