Hidden away in a dusty corner of the high desert, the Exotic Feline Breeding Compound, aka the Cat House, is one of our more eccentric animal sanctuaries, functioning as sort of a feline zoo. Inexpensive to visit ($5 to $7), tiny (you can see everything in less than an hour), slightly odd (you share the grounds with wandering peacocks), the EFBC also has a critical mission: It is literally saving some of the world’s rarest wild cats from extinction. Many of these species cannot sustain a genetically diverse population due to declining habitat and poaching; the center provides a quiet place for the 70-plus cats to breed. Luckily for us, humans are allowed to see them up close. Visitors can quietly peer at lithe giants like tigers, jaguars and pumas, along with quirky smaller species such as Pallas’ cats, black-footed cats and fishing cats. You can stand five feet away from the friendly serval, watch the mysterious jaguarundi slither around his enclosure, or even be on hand when a handler feeds hard-boiled peacock eggs to the leopard. For those who are deeply concerned about wildlife conservation, and for people who just like cats, the EFBC continues to serve and fascinate.

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