Lifestyle

Monday, Aug 20 2012 07:42 AM

'The Cat House' is a cool feline oasis

Related Photos

A baby Jaguar shares kitten curiosity with visitors at the Feline Conservation Center in Rosamond. Photos courtesy of Feline Conservation Center

An adult Jaguar lunches as onlookers observe cat “etiquette” at the Feline Conservation Center in Rosamond, about a 45-minute drive from Tehachapi. Photo courtesy of Feline Conservation Center

Annie the Snow Leopard gives visitors an unperturbed gaze as she lounges at the Feline Conservation Center in Rosamond. Photo courtesy of Feline Conservation Center

Looking for something to do on a hot summer's day? Take a short road trip to Rosamond to the Feline Conservation Center, also called The Cat House.

One may think it's too hot to go to Rosamond at this time of year, but a pleasant surprise awaits you. As you drive through the dry, arid landscape on a dusty road, you may doubt anything pleasant is coming your way, with the heat and dust in your face.

Give it a chance, pull into the parking lot, get out of your car, step out into the overbearing heat. Walk through the gates of the FCC and a magical thing happens -- it is cool, quiet and clean, a paradise in the midst of a dry desert landscape.

Admission fees are $7, adults; $6, seniors and $5, ages 3-12

The Cat House is home to 70 of the world's most endangered felines and was founded in Rosamond in 1977. It is a non-profit organization that is supported by donations from the public. The facility is open to the public 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Wednesdays, Christmas and Thanksgiving.

The majority of the center is designed for visitors to wander about at their own pace. Plaques along the way describe cat species in detail and docents are always available to answer questions. A visitor can get as close as five feet from the beautiful but dangerous cats.

What animals will you be able to see?

Feline residents include 19 species: tiger, jaguar, fishing cat, serval, pallas' cat, caracal, ocelot, bobcat, Canada lynx, Geoffroy's cat, margay, jaguarundi, jungle cat, cougar, leopard cat, sand cat, clouded leopard, snow leopard, and four subspecies of leopards.

Cats sometimes leave offensive odors in their wake, which may lead one to believe the center would be an unpleasant smelling compound. Once again, a surprise is in store for the visitor. The cleanliness and lack of unpleasant odor is refreshing, considering how many and how large the cats there are. The staff is diligent in their quest to provide a clean sanctuary for the cats and a pleasant experience for the visitor.

There are portions of the center not open to the public. The smaller, high-strung cats are kept in quieter areas and some of the older pens do not have a safety fence. For legal reasons, the center is not allowed to have anyone under 18 in those areas. Once the new tiger cages are complete the tigers will be on display during the daylight hours, until then the tigers are only available during the Twilight Tours, when the entire facility is available for viewing.

FCC has three interesting events each year -- the Feline Follies, the Twilight Tours and Kids Day.

The 23rd annual Fabulous Feline Follies was Saturday, Aug. 18. It is the main fundraiser for the year and is held at the FCC. It is well worth attending, so keep it in mind for 2013. Call 661-256-3793 for more information or visit www.cathouse-fcc.org

The last Twilight Tour for 2012 will be Saturday, Sept. 15. Doors open no later than 5 p.m. A bake sale sponsored by FCC's American Association of Zoo-keepers (AAZK), a raffle by the Rotary Club and much more is available for attendees.

Admission fee is $20 per person and visitors must be 18 years or older. Payment can be made at the door or in advance at 661-256-3793. Pre-paids will be admitted prior to those paying at the door (cash only if paid at the door).

Kids Day is Saturday, Oct. 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is a fun and educational experience for all who attend. Live animal presentations, scavenger hunts and train rides to see the tigers make it a special visit.

The goal of the center is to have children feel they are now a part of a unique conservation experience and know they can be part of the effort to protect endangered species. Admission is $10 for adults and $7 for children 12 and under. Cost includes most activities and prizes to take home. Children must be accompanied by adults, no drop-offs allowed.

Donations are accepted year-round. Scheduled tours are available for groups and schools. For more information call 661-256-3793.

More information is also available on the center's website, http://www.cathouse-fcc.org/

Getting there

The Cat House is located at 3718 60th Street West, Rosamond. However, directions of computer map programs are generally inaccurate, so follow these directions instead: From Tehachapi head south on Tehachapi-Willow Springs Road to Rosamond Blvd. then turn left (east) and continue to Mojave-Tropico Road where a large sign will be visible. Turn left on Moave-Tropico Road then drive a short distance to Rhyolite, then turn left. The center's driveway begins where Rhyolite ends.

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