Bobcat #17-2495

September 30, 2017
Former Patient
Patient photo

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On September 30, a juvenile female bobcat was hit by a vehicle while crossing Route 33 in Rockingham County, Virginia. The bobcat was captured and transported to the Wildlife Center, where Dr. Monica, one of the Center’s veterinary interns, examined the bobcat.

The juvenile cat was very quiet and dull, and Dr. Monica found that the bobcat’s right femur was fractured. Blood work confirmed that the bobcat was anemic; she also had a heavy parasite load. Radiographs indicated that the closed fracture was complete and spiral – meaning that the bone had rotated. Spiral fractures often occur when the body is in motion with one limb planted on the ground. Dr. Monica gave the bobcat fluids, pain medication, antimicrobials, and anti-parasitics. She carefully bandaged the young bobcat’s fractured leg and placed her in an oxygen cage for the night.

The following day, the bobcat was still very dull and depressed; the staff realized that the cat was not able to see, which can happen in severe head trauma cases when the brain swells. Supportive care was offered to the bobcat, and an IV catheter was placed to better deliver a continuous supply of fluids. Surgery for the fractured leg was planned for October 4. While a blind bobcat can never be released, the staff decided to move forward with the surgery to repair the injured leg, while giving the bobcat enough time to regain her sight.

On October 4, Dr. Ernesto, the Center’s hospital director, was successfully able to pin the fractured femur; he also placed two cerclage wires in the bobcat’s leg to keep the bone in the correct position as it heals. The wires will stay in the bobcat’s leg, but the intramedullary [IM] pin will be removed after the leg heals.

Three days after surgery, the bobcat was brighter; the veterinary team noted that the bobcat even growled when approached for daily treatments, though she still appeared to be avisual. Fortunately, on October 10, Dr. Ernesto was pleasantly surprised to find that the bobcat could see – she could easily track his movements when he caught her for morning treatments.

Repeat radiographs were taken on October 13; results revealed that the IM pin slipped out of one portion of the bobcat’s fractured bone. Dr. Ernesto will take the bobcat to surgery again this week to repair the fracture again.

At the Wildlife Center, we treat to release. Your donation will help support the Center’s life-saving work with this Bobcat  … and with the many other patients admitted to the Center this year.  

Patient Updates

Bobcat #17-2495 was successfully released on Wednesday, April 18. The bobcat was live-trapped in the Center’s Large Mammal Isolation enclosure; Critter Cam viewers noted that it took the cat a little longer than usual to take the bait this time around! After she was trapped, Dr. Monica sedated the bobcat to remove the research collar as well as to give the cat a final examination. She appeared to be in great condition and weighed 6.7 kg. The bobcat was loaded into a Zinger crate for transport to the release site.

Dr. Ingrid, one of the Center’s veterinary interns, had the honor of escorting the bobcat to release; she met up with DGIF biologists who took Dr. Ingrid and the bobcat to the release site in Rockingham County. Once the door to the crate was opened, the bobcat quickly ran out of sight.



Bobcat #17-2495 has been doing well during the past couple of weeks; lucky Critter Cam viewers have been able to catch the cat on camera and have watched her playing, sleeping, grooming, and sitting in her hammock. The collar that was placed on her on March 30 doesn’t seem to be impacting her activity level!

Wildlife rehabilitator Brie has been coordinating the bobcat’s release with a DGIF biologist. The bobcat will be released within the same county where she was rescued in September 2017; the tentative release date has been set for April 18.

Wildlife rehabilitator Brie has been coordinating Bobcat #17-2495’s release plans with a VDGIF wildlife biologist. The bobcat will be released in Rockingham County (where the bobcat was initially injured) for mid-April, during the week of April 16. But first, the bobcat will be participating in a study!

The Wildlife Center of Virginia is working with researchers from the Virginia Tech Virginia Appalachian Carnivore Study who research wild bobcats and track their movements/ranging behaviors. On March 30, the bobcat will be fitted with a temporary collar with an accelerometer that measures animal movement and acceleration. Acceleration data collected from this collar will then be synced with simultaneously recorded video footage. This will allow researchers to "translate" visually observed behaviors from the video to the recorded acceleration data values. The subsequent reference dataset will be used to match recorded behaviors (e.g. running, resting, and feeding) from (bobcat ID) with data collected from  GPS/accelerometer collars that are currently deployed on wild bobcats in the state of Virginia. Ultimately, this data will allow for a deeper understanding of wild bobcat behaviors, energetics, and habitat utilization. In turn, this research will allow for more informed conservation and management of wild bobcat populations. This research has been reviewed and approved by the Virginia Tech IACUC committee.

The collar will come off prior to the bobcat’s release.

Bobcat #17-2495 has been doing well during the winter months; the bobcat is eating well and showing appropriate behaviors with the rehabilitation staff. The team provides a variety of enrichment items for the cat to keep her active; these items reflect on some aspect of a bobcat’s natural history. Last week, for example, rehabilitation extern Dan created a fake bird nest complete with an egg for the bobcat!

Wildlife rehabilitator Brie is beginning to coordinate the release of bobcat #17-2495; she’s in contact with a wildlife biologist to select a release site in Rockingham County (where the bobcat was initially injured) for a mid-April release.

Bobcat #17-2495 is doing well in the Center’s Large Mammal Isolation enclosure. Critter Cam viewers have enjoyed keeping an eye out for her on camera; with the full run of the enclosure, the cat isn’t always in view, but she does enjoy napping in the sunshine throughout the day, which is plentiful in the enclosure where the cam is located.

The rehabilitation staff offer enrichment to the bobcat regularly; enrichment stimulates the bobcat’s mind and gives her new challenges. Enrichment may simply be a box in the enclosure (yes, apparently all cats love boxes), objects to manipulate, or food stuffed in some sort of object. Recently, wildlife rehabilitator Brie offered the bobcat a carved pumpkin – with a rat surprise inside!

On November 27, the veterinary team sedated and anesthetized Bobcat #17-2495 for follow-up radiographs. It’s been more than six weeks since the bobcat’s initial surgery to pin her fractured leg.

The vets found that there is a large callus at the site of the right femoral fracture; the right femur is a little shorter than the left, but otherwise, the fracture is healed. Blood was drawn for analysis, which was within normal limits. The veterinary team also noted that the bobcat has grown in her adult teeth, which are in excellent shape.

The bobcat was returned to the Center’s Large Mammal Isolation enclosure for observation. The bobcat has the full run of both sides of the enclosure, which allows the cat plenty of room to walk and exercise, and also allows the staff to close off one side before entering to change water and drop off food.

Since the bobcat was born earlier this year, the staff plan to continue to rehabilitate the juvenile cat throughout the winter, offering frequent live prey practice opportunities. As long as the bobcat doesn’t have issues with the reduced length of her healed leg, the bobcat should be able to be released in the spring.

Keep an eye on Critter Cam 3 to see if you can catch a glimpse of the bobcat!

Bobcat #17-2495 was moved to the connecting chute of the Center’s Large Mammal Isolation enclosure on October 21; this area is larger than the zinger crate in which the bobcat was initially housed but is still a restricted space until the cat’s leg fully heals.

The staff have been happy to report that the bobcat is walking and using all four legs normally – though sometimes instead of walking, the bobcat crouches in the corner and growls at the staff.

Additional radiographs will be taken on November 6.

On October 16, Dr. Ernesto took Bobcat #17-2495 back to surgery to replace the pin stabilizing the bobcat’s fractured leg. The pin was fully removed, though attempts to replace the IM pin were unsuccessful; there was a large amount of callus already present over the bone fragments, which made placing the pin difficult. Dr. Ernesto decided to close the bobcat’s incision and to allow the fracture to continue to heal; the wire in the cat’s leg should offer enough stabilization since the bone already has evidence of healing.

The bobcat recovered well and was placed in a zinger crate for continued care. The bobcat is eating well, and the staff is currently able to deliver daily medications in the cat’s food.