Florida zoo to open small cat habitat

The Leesburg Zoo in Florida is opening its new exhibit, the small cat habitat, this weekend.

The area features more than 300 house cats, everything from domestic short hairs to Persians to exotic Balinese and Siamese breeds.

Zoo guests will be able to observe the cats from several viewing areas surrounding the 1.5-acre habitat.

Children will especially love watching the cats romp in giant 5-story, carpeted scratching post named “Cuddles Island.” Cuddles Island has special observation windows about 3-feet off the ground, for a kid’s eye view.

Black, white, tabby and calico, the Leesburg Zoo has collected nearly every variety of domesticated small cat native to the United States.

“Finally, our zoo guests can observe what it is like to live with these breeds of small cats, without having to actually deal with a small cat in their own homes,” said Gerry Walker, Leesburg Zoo general manager.

A special tour, “The Cat Lady Experience,” can be booked for an additional $24.99 per person. It includes a tour of the 900-square-foot, 2-bedroom house in the small cat habitat, where you can experience all the sights, sounds and smells of being the neighborhood cat lady.

Families with young children or groups such as scout troops will appreciate the hands-on learning activities in “The Cat Lady Experience,” such as:

  • “Feeding Time,” when tour participants must try to find and fill all 37 food bowls stationed in various areas in the small home. (Don’t forget to check the windowsills and closets!)
  • “Litter Patrol,” a good-natured poopin’ scoopin’ race to the finish.
  • And “Quiet Kitty,” a fun game where the tour group tries to quiet the 60 or so small cats inside the home while one lucky volunteer answers the front door during a simulated (Very realistic!) visit from city code enforcement officers.

The Leesburg Zoo’s Small Cat Habitat opens to the public this Saturday. You can book “The Cat Lady Experience” tour in advance online. Through June 1, zoo guests who donate a bag of dry cat food or scoopable cat litter can receive a $5 discount on zoo admission.

Leesburg is a 1-hour drive from the Orlando area, and the new exhibit makes it a great side trip for any Walt Disney World vacation.