By <a href=”http://www.catwisdom101.com/layla-morgan-wilde” rel=”author”>Layla Morgan Wilde</a>
There’s an old saying: A cat is a lion in jungle of small bushes. Big cats and small seem to share much in common. New York-based cat blogger and advocate Tamar Arslanian of I Have Cat wanted to find out more. She embarked on an African safari in Tanzania with her sister and returned with deeper understanding of cats. We’re delighted to share this exclusive Q & A with photos of African cats both big and small.
All photos by permission and courtesy of IHaveCat.com
Q & A With Tamar Arslanian by Layla Morgan Wilde
LMW: Did seeing the big cats in Africa change your views on domestic cats?
TA: While technically the domestic cat is a direct descendant of the African Wildcat (which we did not see in Tanzania) watching the Leopards, Cheetahs and Lions only reinforced now similar our cats at home are truly mini versions of these big cats. It’s fascinating to think how a descendant of a wild animal came to share our homes with us and become a dear part of our families.
LMW: How are domestic cats viewed in Africa? As pets?
LMW: What was the most moving or powerful exchange between you and a wild animal?
TA: We were very excited to see a few domesticated cats in Africa in some of the places we stayed. It was funny that after a day of seeing the Big Cats during our safaris my sister and I were just as excited to see (and try to play with) their smaller version. Probably because we were in need of an animal we could actual pet! Some were more friendly than others.
The cats at lodges we stayed seemed to be fed by the staff, but they are not looked upon as pets. There doesn’t seem to be that same attitude towards wanting to bring them in and share a home with them from what we witnessed. They weren’t really able to relate to our excitement/obsession with them!
TA: I guess there are a few instances that could be considered moving or powerful in different ways. In terms of intensity we did almost get charged by a pretty pissed off and rather huge elephant. He raised his horn and made that terrifying trumpeting sound. Most of the elephants we saw were very docile (or “polite” as one Tanzanian described them), but where we saw this particular elephant was towards the outskirts of one of the National Parks where apparently they sometimes come in contact with poachers. So they were less than comfortable with humans getting too close.
We had the pleasure of seeing a sweet lion baby cub frolicking (read: annoying) his Mom which was one of my personal highlights. And we even came across the aftermath of a recent kill where lions were taking turns feasting upon what remained of a Wildebeest.
The closest we got to a wild animal were the Genet cats who hung out in the rafters of the dining hall of one of the lodges where we stayed called the Ndutu Safri lodge. Though they look and act so much like cats, it turns out they are actually part of the mongoose family. It was pretty amazing that they didn’t jump down on the tables to steal food. It turns out the Genet cats have been hanging out that particular lodge for years and are even the logo for the lodge.
LMW: What did this experience teach you about cats, big and small?
TA: How similar they are in so very many different ways. In the way they clean themselves, get ready to pounce when they see prey, frolic and “bop” each other, do the bunny kick.
LMW: How did your cats react when you returned? i.e. any foreign scents on clothing.
TA: Surprisingly they weren’t as suspicious or curious about all the smells on me as I expected them to be. They were quite loving and Petie, my chubby scaredy cat actually let me pick him up (briefly) and leaned in and gave me a big sniff with his sweet pink nose. It was super cute. Then each of the cats and I had some special snuggling time individually.