The Big Cat Sanctuary is afraid to announce some bad news which has taken us all by surprise. Following a short period of illness, we have had to say goodbye to Aquarius, our amazing fishing cat.
It was noticed over the weekend that Aquarius was not quite himself, after a short period of monitoring and trying treatments for his symptoms, it was clear that he was still deteriorating and so, first thing on Wednesday, he was taken to our local practice to investigate. It was found that Aquarius had a large inoperable tumour inside his bladder as well as kidney failure. In discussion with Valerie, our domestics vet who offers us amazing support on a 24-hour basis, it became clear that we would not be able to do anything to improve Aquarius’ condition, or to help him feel better. As it is our responsibility to prevent suffering for our cats, it was decided that it was fairest not to wake Aquarius up.
Aquarius, or ‘Mr Fish’ as the keepers sometimes called him, had lived at the Sanctuary since he was 7 months old. He arrived with sister Angel, and brother Neptune, both of whom moved on to homes of their own while Aquarius stayed here to live with us as his forever home.
In his youth he was a typical teenager, loved pushing the boundaries and being naughty, especially when his siblings were willing to encourage him and join in. After his brother and sister had moved on, Aquarius was able to move into a new enclosure, purpose built for him and was able to show off his fishing skills in his new natural pond. In order for him to successfully fish though, keepers soon learned there was a trick. If Mr Fish saw his dinner being thrown into his pond, then it was game on!! Into the pond he would charge, feeling around with his front paws in order to locate his quarry and then his head would dart in to seize it out! Then proudly he would trot into the bushes to enjoy it. If, however, he happened not to be paying attention when the food was thrown in, Mr Fish would be none the wiser that his dinner had ever even made an appearance. The food would disappear beneath the surface of the water and would never be seen again. Armed with nothing to help encourage him into the pond to find his food other than their words, and the vein hope that overnight Aquarius had managed to learn English, the keeper would then be left with no alternative than to make the trip all the way back to the feed room to prepare Aquarius another nice fresh meal. Aquarius all the while wondering why on earth this incompetent keeper ever managed to forget to bring his meal in the first place. Who knows, perhaps he was far more switched on than we realised and had just figured out a way to get 2 dinners on the days he felt like it.
As we saw more and more how cool his diving was, we managed to find ways to film it by sinking cameras into his pond. We had to be quick to catch it though, as he might prowl for a long time around the edge of his pond, planning his attack, but when he darted his front half into the pond to collect his food, it was with extreme precision and amazing speed. It was fantastic to see and even filmed for television on numerous occasions as it was so fun to watch. The rest of the time Aquarius was mostly quite a private cat, keeping himself to himself and waiting until nobody was watching before wrestling with whichever enrichment item had been given to him on his morning feed, or watching everyone go about their business from the middle of the reeds on his pond, seeing without being seen. For those in the right place at the right time they may catch a glimpse of a training session with Aquarius and his trainer Abi, learning behaviours to help us take care of him such as vaccination training and crate training. A sweet little training buddy who always tried to see if there was a way he could steal the treats without having to do the work, still naughty after all!
Mr Fish was a total character, the inspiration for the new development of small cat enclosures we have planned, and the entire reason behind our partnership with the Fishing Cat Conservatory in India. A small cat who has had a big impact on the Sanctuary and he will be terribly missed.
The Big Cat Sanctuary.