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Exotic Big Cat Owners

Posted on Thursday, September 17, 2009 in Animal Art
Tommy the Cougar

Tommy the Cougar

Exotic Big Cat Owners


As a wildlife artist, I constantly need new original material, in the form of photos.  One of my sources has been owners of tigers, cougars, leopard, lions, ocelots, bobcats and even cheetahs.  Some of these exotic big cat owners also have monkeys and parrots as well. 


My husband and I have visited these big cat owners, and with their permission, have had many photo sessions with these big and little exotic cats.  These photo sessions have been nearly as adventurous as our trip to the African continent.


One of our first visits to a pet owner of a big cat was in Northern California where a young man was keeping a full grown cougar and a full grown ocelot.  The cougar was named Tommy and the ocelot was aptly named Satan.


After calling in advance and getting directions to the remote location, we arrived at the home of this big cat owner.  He told us that his cats required at least six to eight hours of contact daily to remain tame and docile.  He said that he and his wife had recently had a new baby.  This resulted in his cougar, Tommy and his ocelot, Satan not getting the required attention that they would usually get. 


When we visited the cougar enclosure, we were greeted by an enthusiastic 200 lb male cougar.  He was overjoyed to see us and began rubbing up against his chain link fence and making happy sounds.  I was eager to meet Tommy the cougar and Jim was ready with the camera to take some up close and personal photos of this big cat.


The owner opened the enclosure and put Tommy the cougar on a chain leash.  I immediately approached the cougar as the owner led him into the yard.  The cougar seem happy to meet me.  I asked the owner if I could touch the cougar, he said sure, the big cat was used to that.


So, I gently put my arm on the big cat’s neck. When I started to take my arm away, Tommy, the cougar decided that he liked my arm. He turned and grabbed my arm in his mouth, holding me securely.  Even though my heart was racing, I held very still until the cougar’s owner made him open his mouth and let me loose.  The big cat owner apologized and said that the cougar was lonely and needed more attention. 

 I quickly realized that the feeble chain that the big cat owner was holding the cougar with, would not hold Tommy if he wanted to get away.  We did not take many more photos of Tommy the cougar as he was soon back in his enclosure, pining away for attention.  I suffered only minor bruising and a torn blouse.

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