The past year, 2017, ended with sad news for Catty Shack Ranch. On December 10, we said good bye to Sarah, our oldest tiger. She arrived at the Ranch in August 2009 when she was about 12 years old and we lost her at age 20.
Up to the end, Sarah chuffed greetings to volunteers and visitors. She sometimes would roll and show the world her striped tummy. But near the end, she also had trouble with her balance and ability to walk. She showed less of her sparkling personality and her appetite was off. Ultrasound images revealed irregularly shaped black spots on her liver and kidneys – tumors. With all her symptoms, we knew it was right to let her pass on to a world free from suffering. As always, this decision, no matter how right it is, is never easy.
Before coming to the Ranch, Sarah was a breeder cat, producing several litters of cubs each year. When her owner exited that business, we are grateful she asked us to provide a loving forever home for Sarah.
With her beautiful expressive face, her striking markings and her engaging personality, Sarah was our “greeter cat” – the first resident visitors met as they entered the Ranch and the last one they saw as they left. It was always a pleasure to lead a tour group through the bamboo gates and hear them gasp as they encountered our beautiful Sarah, so close by and so willing to pose for perfect photos. After a Night Feeding, Sarah was very present in the background as visitors talked with Curt, Evin and Dr. Fred. She was the tiger we all said “Good Morning” to as we opened the gate and began work; she was the tiger we all said “Good Night” to as we turned out the lights and locked the gate.
Sweet Sarah was a refined elegant lady. She gently carried each piece of her dinner into her den box to eat and often seemed to ignore enrichment toys and boxes. Yet, the morning after, as if by magic, all food had been consumed and the toys had been moved, shredded and played with.
She was an interior decorator at heart. If her heavy galvanized pool was empty or nearly so, she would move it from its place by the fence. The smaller oblong troughs (also heavy) in her back lockout enclosure and in the cougar area where she first lived at the Ranch were easily toppled and flipped end over end throughout the entire habitat. Whenever we heard loud metallic thumping noises near Sarah, we knew she was busy rearranging her space!
Sarah’s presence remains very visible at the Ranch. Her likeness graces our office/medical facility. Several years ago, Shaun Thurston, a local artist, enhanced the building by painting her portrait on the wall. In little more than one afternoon, using cans of spray paint and working from a small photo of Sarah, he created her giant portrait.
Sweet Sarah, we love you and miss you. We are grateful to have cared for you. You created so many happy lasting impressions for visitors of the Ranch. May you now rest in the peace and comfort you deserve. Good night, Sweet Sarah, our elegant lady.