Bobcat #12-2591

November 25, 2012
January 27, 2013
Rescue Location
Powhatan County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Fractured femur
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On November 24, a veterinarian was horseback riding in Powhatan County, Virginia and came across an injured juvenile bobcat.   The cat was rescued and taken to permitted rehabilitators with the Area Rehabbers Klub before it was transferred to the Wildlife Center the following day.

Upon admission, Dr. Dana anesthetized the young male bobcat so that she could safely perform a physical exam and take a set of radiographs. She found that the cat’s right femur was badly fractured – in a tricky spot. The femur was in multiple fragments, and the fracture had occurred near the knee joint. Dr. Dana provide pain medication and settled the young bobcat into an enclosure in the Center’s holding room. The bobcat weighed in at 3.1 kg.

The following day, Dr. Dana consulted with Drs. Dave and Rich. Because the fracture was so close to the bobcat’s joint, the Wildlife Center vets were unsure about performing a surgical repair on the cat. Because this is not a “clean” break, and the fracture is so close to the joint, any hardware used to repair the fracture could prevent proper growth of the bone. This could later cause an asymmetry of the leg which would result in problems with walking, running, and hunting.

Dr. Dave consulted with several orthopedic specialists boarded with the American College of Veterinary Surgeons to get second [and third and fourth] opinions on a possible surgical repair for the bobcat. Dr. Jason Wheeler with the Virginia Veterinary Specialists in Charlottesville thought that repair was possible. Dr. Wheeler scheduled the surgery on Thursday, November 29. The Wildlife Center will pay for the bobcat’s surgery, though Dr. Wheeler’s practice will be giving the Center a discount. The surgery will roughly cost $2,000.

Dr. Stiffler will use a special cerclage wire and internal pins to secure the bone fragments in place. This hardware will remain in the bobcat’s leg – which should not be an issue for a non-game wild mammal species. One of the Center’s veterinarians will scrub in and assist with the surgery on Thursday. If all goes well, Dr. Dave anticipates that the bobcat will recover in a small enclosure at the Center for several weeks.

Patient Updates

On Sunday, January 27, the rehabilitation staff were able to capture Bobcat #12-2591 in a live trap in its enclosure – a much simpler process than chasing and physically capturing the very healthy, very fast cat! The bobcat’s original rescuer, Dr. Cindy Alredge, picked up the bobcat from the Wildlife Center and returned it to the secluded area in Powhatan where it was found. Dr. Alredge reports that the release was “lightning fast” – she opened the trap door and the bobcat took off, out of sight.

Bobcat #12-2591 was caught and anesthetized on January 24 for a set of follow-up radiographs. The rehabilitation staff set a live trap in the bobcat’s enclosure – a much less stressful way to catch the bobcat rather than having to net or dart the animal!

Dr. Dana was pleased with the bobcat’s radiographs. She also noted that the cat had good range of motion of its injured leg, and no “crepitus”, or crackling sounds of the joint. Dr. Dana consulted with Dr. Jason Wheeler, the veterinarian who pinned the bobcat’s fractured leg in November 2012. They decided that all was in order, and the bobcat was cleared for release.

The staff of the Wildlife Center will be coordinating with the bobcat’s rescuers to arrange a release back in the area where it was found.

Bobcat #12-2591 has been doing well in one of the Center’s flight pens. The bobcat’s leg injury does not seem to be slowing the feline at all – the cat is running, jumping, and climbing with ease. The rehabilitation staff began offering the bobcat live mice to provide plenty of practice hunting for food in anticipation of its release. Follow-up radiographs are still scheduled for January 24.

Bobcat #12-2591 was moved to a larger enclosure on December 31. After much discussion, the veterinary team decided to place the bobcat in Flight Pen 3, rather than a Bear Pen, to make capture easier on the vet staff, and safer for the bobcat. Because the bobcat will be caught up at the end of January for an additional set of radiographs, the veterinary team felt that a net-capture in a flight pen would be easier than attempting to dart the bobcat in a bear pen. The Flight Pen 1-3 complex has buried fencing and additional hardware cloth on the walls, which means that these pens can also be used for housing larger mammals.

When the bobcat was moved to the flight pen, the team was able to observe the feline in action – it quickly ran away from them! The vets are pleased with the bobcat’s progress and hope that a release will be possible after the follow-up radiographs on January 24. Observation will continue.

On December 27, Dr. Dana took radiographs of the Bobcat’s leg and was very pleased with the progress the patient has made. She sent the radiographs to Dr. Wheeler, the surgeon who repaired the Bobcat’s broken femur in November. Though not completely healed, both veterinarians agreed that the Bobcat is on the road to recovery.

The Bobcat has been cleared to move into an outdoor enclosure, where he will be able to move freely and start re-building strength in his hind leg. The plan is to move the Bobcat into one of the Wildlife Center’s Bear Pens - the only enclosures that would provide adequate room and security for the young Bobcat.

Because Black Bear patient #12-2655 is currently housed in Bear Pen 1, and Bear Pen 3 is storing supplies, moving the Bobcat to the Bear Pen complex will require some logistics. Housing the Bobcat and Bear directly next to each other could potentially cause stress for one or both patients. The veterinary and rehabilitation staffs are working together to figure out the best way to house both patients safely with minimal stress.

Since the Bobcat is still in recovery, there is no rush to move him to an outdoor enclosure. Once an acceptable plan is devised, the Bobcat will be moved to a larger space.

Bobcat #12-2591 is continuing to recover at the Wildlife Center. The bobcat’s incision site appears to be healing nicely, and the fur is growing back on its shaved leg. Dr. Dana will be taking radiographs of the bobcat’s injured leg on December 27. Depending on the results, the bobcat may be moved to a larger enclosure at that time.

Since his surgery, the Bobcat has remained bright, alert, and notably feisty with a healthy appetite. Though he is still in a small cage, which limits his movement, the veterinarians have noticed him ambulating – walking – well and placing weight on his right-hind leg. The surgical incision has remained clean and dry with the sutures intact. Overall, the veterinarians are quite pleased with Bobcat’s progress. They will continue to monitor the surgical site, leg use, and general attitude.

Wildlife rehabilitator Amber reported that Bobcat #12-2591 was "awake and growly" first thing this morning. Dr. Dana noted that the bobcat was bearing some weight on his right hind limb today. There was a small amount of dried blood from the incision, and the leg is moderately swollen and bruised — definitely something to be expected.

The bobcat’s small, sturdy enclosure will be moved to the Metal Cage Complex during the day so that the cat can be further away from human activity and sounds, but the staff will move the enclosure inside at night due to the cold weather. The bobcat is eating well, and will continue to receive several medications in his food.

Dr. Dana transported Bobcat #12-2591 to the Virginia Veterinary Specialists this morning for the bobcat’s 11:30 a.m. surgery with Dr. Wheeler. Dr. Dana reported that the bobcat was sedated and in the operating room at noon — and at that point, Dr. Dana was about to scrub in to the surgery. At 2:30 p.m., Dr. Dana reported that the bobcat was waking up — and that surgery had gone well. Once the bobcat was fully recovered at 3:30 p.m., Dr. Dana and bobcat drove back to the Center.

The bobcat will be housed in a small, sturdy enclosure in the Center’s holding room for the next few days. The bobcat will need restricted movement after his significant surgery.

Bobcat #12-2591 surgery