When I was a young girl I was fascinated with tigers. They were so majestic and their stripes looked to me like a velvet painting. Heck, I still think big cats are amazing. When I was searching for photos to use in this post, I found myself spending close to an hour admiring the majestic images of lions, jaguars, cheetahs, panthers and, yes, tigers.
There are several reputable organizations that help rescue and rehabilitate big cats. And most of them offer several ways in which we can become involved to help the cause. Most kids I know — including my own — have always loved our house cats’ bigger cousins, so it’s natural that they’d enjoy contributing to their health, safety and happiness.
Here are three organizations that offer opportunities for you and your kids to team up and help big cats. We’ve only scratched the surface here — make sure and visit the sites to learn more about how you can affect the causes.
Tampa-based Big Cat Rescue is the largest accredited sanctuary in the world dedicated exclusively to abused and abandoned big cats. They house more than 100 cats, including lions, tigers, bobcats, cougars and other species who’ve found their way to the loving care of the organization.
Here are some of the ways you can help Big Cat Rescue:
- Learn more about the cats visiting the Florida sanctuary. There are even special activities and opportunities for kids!
- Review and sign petitions supporting big cat issues.
- Sponsor a big cat! Sponsorship rates start at $25.
- Donate your discarded ink cartridges, laser toners, and cell phones. Big Cat Rescue will even send you five prepaid UPS labels to use!
The Cheetah Conservation Fund was founded in 1990 by Dr. Laurie Marker and is based in Namibia, Africa. Its mission is to be the internationally recognized center of excellence in the conservation of cheetahs and their ecosystems.
This organization is close to our family’s heart because my daughter was obsessed with cheetahs when she was around age 10. For her birthday one year, all she wanted was to sponsor a cheetah. We researched and found the CCF site, which included information about sponsorships. Instead of traditional gifts, she asked her party guests to bring a donation toward the sponsorship. It was a success and all the kids had a blast at the cheetah-themed party.
Here are some ways you and your kids can help CCF:
- Sponsor a resident non-releasable cheetah. You can sponsor at any level and even meet the cheetahs!
- Sponsor a livestock-guarding dog. I found this option particularly interesting. Apparently, cheetahs lose their lives at the hands of Namibian farmers, who shoot them in an effort to protect their livestock from cheetah attacks. These dogs, who are free to the farmers, have resulted in an 80-percent reduction in livestock kills by cheetahs and other predators. These dogs, who are trained at CCF headquarters, do this simply by barking loudly and scaring off the big cats.
- Explore the Kids4Cheetahs page for more ways children of most any age can make a difference in the conservation of these beautiful cats.
The Wildcat Sanctuary is an accredited sanctuary based in Sandstone, Minnesota, less than two hours from my home! And I had no idea! Its mission is to provide a natural sanctuary to wild cats in need and inspire change to end the captive wildlife crisis. I was saddened reading about the cases of individuals attempting to keep wild cats as pets in their homes, which is harmful for the cat and potentially the human. The Wildcat Sanctuary offers a home to cats rescued from this situation, as well as ones kept unlawfully captive for any reason.
How can you and your kids help? Here are some ideas.
- Feed a feline! There are a variety of pricing levels, and any amount helps keep these big cats nourished with healthy meals.
- Sponsor a cat. The sponsor levels are a bit pricier than others I’ve seen, but you get to choose your cat and receive photos and regular email updates from the sanctuary.
- Keep cats warm! As you can imagine, winters in Minnesota can get pretty frigid and the sanctuary has a massive electricity bill each month. You can donate as little as $25 to help pay that hefty charge.
- Learn about the importance of not keeping wild pets and how you can help the cause on the No More Wild Pets — Program for Kids page.
- Schedule an No More Wild Pets outreach program at your kids’ school or civic organization.
Do you know about other organizations that help big cats? Share them in the comments!
Find out how Catster can teach you more about your cat:
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- 10 Sounds That Cats Make — and What They Mean
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Read More by Angie Bailey:
- 5 Tips for Helping Your Kids Start a Pet-Sitting Business
- I’m Raising My Son to Love Cats, No Matter What Society Thinks
- 6 Tips for Planning the Perfect Cat-themed Party for Kids
- 5 Ways Cats Are Great Therapy for Anxiety and Depression in Kids
- 5 DIY Projects You and Your Kids Can Make for Your Cats
About the Author: Angie Bailey is an eternal optimist with an adoration of all things silly. Loves pre-adolescent boy humor, puns, making up parody songs, thinking about cats doing people things and The Smiths. Writes Catladyland, a cat humor blog, Texts from Mittens (originated right here on Catster) and authored whiskerslist: the kitty classifieds, a silly book about cats wheeling and dealing online. Partner in a production company and writes and acts in a comedy web series that features sketches and mockumentaries. Mother to two humans and three cats, all of which want her to make them food.