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Rosamond's Cat House

Day Trippin' with Mel

You don't have to be a crazy cat lady to enjoy visiting the EFBC's Feline Conservation Center – affectionately known both officially and unofficially as the "Cat House" – in Rosamond. In fact, it's a great place for the whole family to get together and spend some time.

I got there recently at opening time (10 a.m.) on a mild winter morning, thinking that earlier in the day the cats might be more active than on a lazy summer afternoon, and indeed they were. Several were napping but several were also walking around their enclosures or playing with cardboard egg cartons. Some were awake but seemed content just watching us humans watch them.

Around 10:30 a.m. I, along with several family groups and one excited gaggle of girl scouts, were especially lucky when one of the cat keepers announced that he would soon be offering treats to the felines, and we were welcome to watch them do a few tricks.

Holding a container of raw meat (chicken, I think), he called to a mountain lion by name – one that was just observing us from high above on a boulder. The cat jumped down and sauntered over to the fence, where the keeper told the cat to lie down. It did and got a treat through the fence. Told to roll over, it did that too and got another chunk of meat. Same with "Paw up" (and then the other paw). Then the keeper ordered "stand up" and the cat rose and stretched to gently take the proffered goodie. It was all quite impressive.

The tricks and treats continued with a leopard, and I couldn't help but marvel at the trust between the wild animals and their human friend, albeit through a protective fence. I was also impressed with how caring for the animals and kind to the visitors all of the keepers I came across that day seemed to be.

You should know the place has the feel of a small zoo, with the animals in cages/enclosures, but it also offers a grassy courtyard for visitors and a good number of shade trees, and plenty of seating all around the compound.

The Feline Conservation Center is a non-profit organization, housing over 70 of the world's most endangered species. The stated mission of the Center is: "We are dedicated to the preservation and propagation of rare and endangered felines through breeding, research and education."

Take the whole family and enjoy a day outside seeing and learning about these beautiful animals. Note: masks were required when I was there not only to protect the other humans in the compound, but also to protect the health of the cats.

Directions: You can get there via the backroad, Willow Springs-Tehachapi, which takes you through the windmills; when you get to a stop sign (where the road you're on becomes 90th Street West) turn left (east) onto Rosamond Blvd. Go to the next stop sign and turn left (north) onto Mojave-Tropico (there is no longer a sign there directing you to the cat house). A few blocks down that road turn left (west) on Rhyolite Avenue and follow that (paved, then a washboard dirt road) into the dirt parking lot.

If you choose to get to Rosamond on the 14, exit on Rosamond Blvd and go west, through town to the stop sign at Mojave-Tropico; turn right (north), then left on Rhyolite into the compound parking lot.

Admission: Adults $10; Children $5 (under 3 free); Seniors (60 and over) and Military (with ID) $8. Members and adoptive parents of the cats are always free.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed Wednesdays and Sundays).

Note: The Cat House welcomes donations of toys for the cats, including old phone books, cardboard boxes, egg cartons and fruit boxes. While you're there also check out memberships and how to adopt one of the Center's cats.

© 2022 Marilda Mel White. Mel White, local writer and photographer and avid day-tripper, welcomes your comments, questions and suggestions at [email protected].