With incredible sadness, and sorrow, we have to share with you the sad passing of our male black-footed cat Blacky, due to incurable kidney failure.
(picture: last time Blacky did enjoy his fresh meal)
The passing of Blacky not only is a huge personal loss for us, WCW management and caretaker, but also a major blow to (our) black-footed cat conservation (projects). Black-footed cats are one of the most vulnerable cat species and above that very difficult to keep, but also breed in captivity and in the wild (well they do breed but not many kittens do survive, also not in the wild). Every individual is essential. Apart from the threat in their natural habitat, the smallest (wild) cat of South Africa (also called: Small Spotted cats) already got extinct in all European zoos, and have a very limited gene pool in U.S.A. (all cats are at this point somehow related).
In South Africa very few places do have black-footed cats, and almost no kittens seem to survive and make it to adulthood. Apart from the decreasing natural habitat, and the threats by bigger predators like jackal and not to forget farmers who often capture the small cats to trade or kill, lots of black-footed cats do end up in captivity. We can almost say with certainty that most of them are captured in the wild. Apart from Diva (who was captive born, but her parents without doubt were wild), also Blacky, Beauty and (r.i.p.) Footy are wildborns and ended up in our project injured as farmers had gintraps on their farm. Luckily the mentioned black-footed did thrive well in our project, only 3-legged Footy did pass away a few years ago.
We got in touch with Cat Conservation Trust (CCT) who had lost all their black-footed cats (also a lot to amyloidosis, the feared bfc kidney disease) after years of breeding and keeping of the species. We decided to bring our cats over to them (temporarily) to see if they could do some more successful breeding with our ambassadors. Blacky and both females (Beauty and Diva) did do a great job. Beauty gave birth to a kitten, and Diva gave birth to 3 kittens. Sadly at the crucial age of 2,3 months all kittens didn’t seem fit enough to survive. As some “expert” one time said: this species is meant to get extinct!!! Sometimes it looks like that, but we refuse to already give up on them. But without our one male, Blacky, this won’t be easy.
There was reason for concern about Blacky’s health for some time already. At CCT they already noticed him drinking too much (bfc hardly ever drink), and a few times he was brought to a vet, and the last time kidney failure was a major issue. Blacky did eat but not as much as he should and did before, and he lost weight. Two weeks ago Blacky and the females arrived back “home” and though he seemed ok, his condition (weigth loss) already gave us a big worry, but also the change in his behaviour. From a very fierce little boy he now almost seemed tame. This wasn’t right and the alarm bells were ringing even more noticing this. Problem is that kidney failure (and amyloidosis) is incurable, and capturing black-footed cats and have them checked by a vet (being tranquilized) is doing no good, can in fact decrease the condition rapidly.
So when our caretaker over the weekend shared her concerns with us another time, and we were very shocked about his looks and the fact that he was “openly drinking” we were thinking how to deal with this…..Sadly Betty, our caretaker, found him dead in the enclosure the next morning already, so there wasn’t time to actually try and do something then being devastated, for the loss of Blacky but also partly of our project, but we could be happy that the suffering for Blacky was over, and he died peacefully, back home, with his two beloved females Beauty and Diva close by. They are doing fine, and are our first priority of course.
At the same time we are in touch about a male coming to us on a breeding loan for a while, and it looks hopeful, but nothing has been decided yet. If there’s no way we can continue the breeding project, the education and awareness part of our black-footed cat conservation project will of course continue, as well as the best care for Beauty and Diva, and we hope they will stay healthy for a long time to come to be essential ambassadors for their species!!!!
R.I.P. Blacky, we will for sure miss you!!!