Bobcat #17-2688

November 23, 2017
March 2, 2018
Rescue Location
Richmond, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Hit by vehicle
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On Thanksgiving Day, a woman was driving from Gloucester County, Virginia to work in Richmond when she hit a bobcat that was running across the road. The woman called Richmond Animal Care and Control for help when she realized the adult bobcat was stuck in the grille of her car!

An officer quickly responded to the scene and was able to safely sedate the bobcat and extract it from the car; she then transported the injured bobcat to the Wildlife Center. Dr. Alexa, one of the Center’s veterinary interns, was on-call and ready to receive the bobcat, which was admitted as patient #17-2688.

Upon arrival, the bobcat was bright, alert, and growling at Dr. Alexa, though the cat’s head movements indicated the presence of head trauma and possible vision loss. Dr. Alexa sedated the female bobcat again so that the staff could safely extract her for a complete physical examination. Dr. Alexa noted that the bobcat had slight difficulty breathing, and there was a large laceration on the bobcat’s back, with one portion of the wound that appeared a bit deeper, exposing ligaments and muscle. There was several other small abrasions on the bobcat’s back, but no other significant wounds. Radiographs confirmed that no fractures were present, though indicated some bruising in the lungs.

Dr. Alexa placed an IV catheter to deliver fluids, and carefully cleaned and sutured the laceration on the bobcat’s back. The bobcat was given pain meds, anti-inflammatories, and a sedative before she was placed in the Center’s holding room for the night.

The following morning, Dr. Alexa was happy to find that the bobcat was extremely feisty. Dr. Alexa sedated the bobcat again for additional wound treatments, and removed the IV catheter. The bobcat was moved to the Center’s  outdoor Bear Pen enclosure so that the staff could continue to safely monitor the bobcat. Throughout the weekend, the bobcat remained bright and alert, with no additional signs of vision loss or head trauma. As of Sunday afternoon, the bobcat still hadn’t eaten on her own, which could be due to the stress of being in captivity; the adult bobcat may also not be interested in food that she hasn’t caught herself!

The staff will continue to monitor the bobcat carefully. If all goes well, the bobcat should be able to be released in about a month.

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Patient Updates

The release of Bobcat #17-2688 went well; rehabilitator Brie opened the door to the bobcat’s crate, and the bobcat quickly ran off down a dirt trail into the woods.

Bobcat #17-2688’s release has been scheduled for Friday, March 2. Rehabilitator Brie coordinated the release with a biologist from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries; they have selected a release site in New Kent County that has appropriate bobcat habitat and is not far from where the cat was struck on Thanksgiving Day.

Photos and videos will be shared post-release.

Bobcat #17-2688 has been eating well during the past few weeks; the cat is eating whole prey items [mostly large, dead rats]. Wildlife rehabilitator Brie is working with a Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries biologist to coordinate a release; they are tentatively discussing a date in early March.

Bobcat #17-2688 did well transitioning to whole food during the past week; the cat readily ate a diet of chopped mice and rats, and January 26, the rehab team introduced a diet of whole rats. The bobcat is eating everything well.

On Monday, January 22, the staff were successfully able to live trap Bobcat #17-2688 for her follow-up examination. Once in the trap, the bobcat was sedated for a complete set of radiographs, blood work, and urinalysis.

Dr. Monica, the Center’s veterinary intern, and licensed veterinary technician intern Jenna were able to take many sets of radiographs to check on the bobcat’s injuries. Overall, the bobcat appeared to be a little thin; while the cat has been readily eating her diet of rat slurries as her jaw fracture healed, the liquefied diet offered in captivity hasn’t quite kept the bobcat’s weight steady. Fortunately, Dr. Monica was very happy to confirm that the cat’s jaw fracture has fully healed on radiographs, which means that the bobcat is ready for whole food again. Blood work was within normal limits.

The bobcat was returned to the Center’s Bear Pens to recover. In the coming weeks, the cat will be offered a variety of whole prey; the staff will carefully monitor the bobcat’s diet to ensure she successfully transitions back to whole food. She’ll also be offered live prey in the coming weeks.

The staff will continue to monitor the bobcat during her dietary transition and hope to release her in late February or early March.

Bobcat #17-2688 continues to quietly recover in the Center’s Bear Pens; the bobcat is still eating her “rat slurry” every day; otherwise, the staff attempt to leave the bobcat alone to reduce stress. Additional radiographs to check on the bobcat’s injured jaw are scheduled for January 22.

The rehab staff have been very pleased to find that Bobcat #17-2688 continues to enjoy her “rat slurries” for breakfast and dinner; the cat is eating well and getting her medications in her food. Wildlife rehabilitator Brie provided some Christmas tree branches as enrichment for the Bobcat, so hopefully, she’ll feel at home for the holidays!

Dr. Alexa continues to be encouraged by the Bobcat’s feisty attitude – she admits that checking on the bobcat is mildly terrifying each day since the Bobcat likes to growl and lunge at her human caregivers.

Bobcat #17-2688 continues to eat her “rat slurries” every day; the rehab staff divides her food into two meals each day so that they can slip medications into the food. The cat appears to be bright and alert, and the veterinarians are no longer able to visualize the laceration on the bobcat’s back.

The veterinary team will repeat radiographs of the bobcat’s jaw in January.

During the past few days, the staff continued to leave a wide variety of food for injured Bobcat #17-2688. The team also made the decision to leave the bobcat alone for two days — with no peeking and no surrounding noise around the enclosure, in case the adult cat was stressed by the presence of humans and sounds. Dr. Alexa was extremely happy to report on Sunday that the bobcat finally ate! Oddly enough, one food option that was eaten was a rat slurry — blenderized rat parts — which could mean that the bobcat’s hairline mandibular fracture is uncomfortable. Fortunately, the bobcat ate another rat slurry during the day on Sunday, which makes this an excellent option for delivering pain medications.

The vet staff have been in touch with a surgical specialist about the jaw fracture; while a specialist may be able to surgically fix the fracture, the staff have to weigh the risk of stressing the bobcat again, causing her not to eat. Many domestic cats with this type of fracture don’t eat after surgery and need to have a feeding tube placed to maintain nutrition; this would be extremely difficult with an adult wild bobcat. As long as the bobcat keeps eating, the staff will keep her on cage rest and will continue to medicate her through food.

Bobcat #17-2688 still has not eaten while at the Center. During the past week, the rehab staff have offered rats, mice, chicks, quail, goose meat, live mice, and canned cat food; the food has been presented in a variety of locations in the bear pen, including suspended from the ceiling.

Drs. Ernesto and Alexa reviewed the bobcat’s radiographs once again to check for injuries; there is a faint line on one radiograph image of the cat’s mandible that may indicate a hairline fracture, though it’s difficult to confirm on the other radiograph views. Dr. Ernesto notes that even if a hairline fracture is present, the preferred treatment for a hairline fracture in that particular location would simply be time to heal; surgical fixation would be extremely difficult due to where the nerve is. It may be more likely that the adult cat is unhappy about being in captivity; wild animals, particularly one as secretive and solitary as the bobcat, can have difficulty adjusting to confinement during injury and treatment.

The bobcat was in great body condition upon admission; these animals don’t necessarily eat every day in the wild. The staff are continuing to explore food options and will give the bobcat two more days to eat on its own; if the bobcat still hasn’t eaten this weekend, the vets will dart and anesthetize the cat for fluids, pain meds, and an additional examination.