This is a story called 'Home for the Holidays' and like all good stories, it begins with 'Once upon a time…'
Once upon a time there was a bobcat (North America's most common little wildcat) and a serval (the seldom-seen night hunter of the faraway African bush). But these particular two wildcats had never known life in the wild. Purchased as pets, neutered and declawed, they were loved and sheltered in a comfortable house. Until, one day..."Pss-sst!"
Pablo the bobcat hissed over at his friend Kato the serval."Look! Somebody's left the door open." Kato yawned. It was time for his nap. "Now's our chance!" Pablo urged him. "The whole world's out there waiting for us." It sounded scary to Kato. But exciting too. He padded over to the door and looked out.
Pablo padded up behind him. "We could find out what it's like to be wild and free! Like we're supposed to be." Kato's curiosity got the best of him. He trotted outside to look around. "Hey!" a gruff voice suddenly shouted out. "This door is supposed to be kept closed!" The door banged shut, and the man walked away. "Oh-oh!" thought Pablo. He was still safely inside. But his friend Kato was 'out there' someplace, all alone.
"Where is my friend Pablo?" wailed Kato as he stared around at the unfamiliar world outside. After all, this was his idea. Pablo was always acting tough. He was part bobcat and part lynx. But he was really just a pussycat. We didn't look anything alike, Pablo and me. I could send my slender long-legged, striped-and-spotted body into a great ten-foot leap into the air. While Pablo, looking like a chunky little mound of fur, mostly just sat around smugly grinning like the Cheshire cat in Alice-in-Wonderland. In the wild, Pablo would be on this side of the world while I would be on the other side. Each of us would be wandering alone, ever alert for danger.
That is just what Kato the serval found himself doing now. As he made his way through the great scary outdoors, his wild instincts took over. Silently, cautiously, it seemed he was stalking through the high grasses of the African bush.
Then, suddenly, he sensed danger. He froze. Figures approached, holding out a blanket before them to this strange unknown creature. "Yee-ow!" Kato screeched as a noose tightened around his neck. And the next thing he knew there was the sound of about a billion dogs barking around him!!
Very scary. No place for a cat. And even here— in what was called an Animal Shelter—still no one knew what kind of animal he was. Everybody was afraid of him. Kato didn't know it, but he was now a TV celebrity—star of the evening news, the mystery backyard prowler!
Meanwhile, authorities received a tip about a pair of illegal house pets—wild or exotic animals purchased and kept without the proper permit. Inside the house, Pablo the bobcat was found hidden in a closet. The next thing Pablo knew he was in the Animal Shelter too. But the two friends had no chance to get together and compare notes. Until…
Once again, the authorities contact our Wildworks Wildlife Care Center, lifetime refuge for displaced zoo animals and for confiscated wild and exotic pets like Kato and Pablo. Wildworks is a place where animals are brought and when they can't stay any more in the home they have always known. A sad thing for any animal, no matter how safe and comfortable and secure its life becomes when it is here.
However, at least at Wildworks Kato was no longer a mystery cat. One of the very first animals given shelter here at our center was "Sneakers", a serval who had been a former zoo resident. But ours is a relatively small facility. We had only one vacant not very spacious enclosure which the pair of disparate wildcats would have to share.
So that is where we now find the two fortunately-reunited friends, Kato the serval and Pablo the bobcat…
Kato: "Do you think our owners will ever come to get us and take us home?"
Pablo: "I don't know. It's been quite a while now."
Kato: "One of them came here to see us that one time. IT was sure good to see him, huh?!"
Pablo: "Yeah…but then, he hasn't ever come back. Has he?"
Kato: "Nope. But anyway, we're lucky to be here where we're together again. The food is good
and we're making a lot of new friends."
Pablo: "Yeah but…the only thing is…it just isn't our home, that's all…and the holidays are coming up."
Kato: (with a sigh) "Right. Everybody wants to be home for the holidays."
Unfortunately, there is no way Kato and Pablo can be home for Christmas. Their future remains uncertain. Their owners will be taken to court for the possession of a wild and exotic animals without a permit. They may or may not attempt to reclaim their pets. Except for one visit some time ago, they have shown no interest or support for their welfare. Whatever happens will take time.
Meanwhile, here at Wildworks, we will do all we can this Christmas to make Kato and Pablo feel "At home" for the holidays, and for however long they are with us…maybe even for a lifetime.
Thanks and Happy Holidays to you!
Mollie and all of us at The Nature of Wildworks