Bobcat #19-2408

July 30, 2019
March 25, 2020
Rescue Location
Floyd County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Separated from parents
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On July 30, the Wildlife Center admitted a female Bobcat kitten from Floyd County, Virginia. The rescuer found the young bobcat inside a chicken coop and no adult bobcat was observed nearby.

Upon arrival to the hospital, the bobcat was bright, feisty, and growling. An initial examination revealed that the kitten was thin and dehydrated with ticks around her ears and eyes. Blood work, radiographs, and the rest of her physical exam were unremarkable. The veterinary team gave the bobcat fluids and sprayed her with a topical treatment for fleas and ticks.

Based on the finding during the initial exam, it’s likely that the bobcat was orphaned, though it’s also possible that the kitten’s mother was nearby and was unable to retrieve the kitten from the coop or didn’t want to approach while humans were near.

It can be difficult to rear bobcat kittens in captivity; they are a secretive species by nature, but are considered high-risk for becoming habituated to humans when they are young. Bobcat #19-2408 has displayed very appropriate behaviors toward her human caregivers, including avoidance, growling, and even attempts to bite or scratch if approached. All of these behaviors make caring for this predator species particularly challenging, but are also good signs that the kitten is not at risk of becoming too comfortable around humans.

The rehabilitation team is caring for the young bobcat, who is currently housed in a secure outdoor enclosure [Bear Pen 3]. The bobcat has a healthy appetite and receives daily enrichment to keep her stimulated.

Early in the rehabilitation process, the team will introduce live prey to her diet; learning to hunt is a critical skill for bobcats, and teaching this skill to juvenile bobcats in captivity can be challenging. The team will continue to monitor her diet and behavior as she grows. The kitten will need care from humans until she would naturally disperse from her mother in the in the spring.

You can help support our work with native wildlife.

Your donation will help provide care for this young Bobcat and approximately 4,000 other patients that the Wildlife Center will help this year.


Patient Updates

Bobcat #19-2408 was successfully released on Wednesday, March 25! A biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries picked up the bobcat and took her to a remote location within an hour of the Wildlife Center. She ran off successfully. No photos or videos were taken of the release.

With spring officially here, the rehabilitation staff have started planning for the release of Bobcat #19-2408. The young cat is exhibiting appropriate wild behaviors; she has been demonstrating that she can successfully hunt for various types of live prey, and she remains shy and evasive around humans. Wildlife rehabilitator Kelsey reached out to biologists with the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries; a tentative release is planned for sometime during the week of March 23. On release day, a biologist will come to the Center to pick up the bobcat and will take her to a remote area for release.

On January 23, veterinary staff sedated the bobcat to weigh her, collect a blood and fecal sample, and perform a physical exam. Upon examination of the bobcat’s mouth, Dr. Claire noticed that the bobcat now has her full set of adult teeth and has a healthy coat. Her blood and fecal exams came back within normal limits. Although the bobcat was a lower weight [3.49 kg] than veterinary staff expected, Dr. Claire noted that she has a healthy body condition score.

Bobcat #19-2408 has been doing well in the Center’s Large Mammal enclosure during the past month. The young bobcat receives a wide variety of enrichment items throughout the week; the latest enrichment is a couple of undecorated Christmas trees!

The rehabilitation staff have been intermittently offering live prey to the bobcat for the past month; live prey have included mice, rats, and chickens. The bobcat seems a little unsure of the live prey, but has been successful with chicken; the staff will continue to offer hunting experience about once a week and will increase the frequency as spring approaches. Bobcats are carnivores and eat a wide variety of small mammals, birds, and reptiles; developing effective hunting techniques will be required for this young bobcat’s survival in the wild this spring.

Bobcat #19-2408 has been doing well during the past month in the Center’s Large Mammal Isolation (LMI) enclosure. The rehabilitation staff opened up both sides of the enclosure, so the young cat has plenty of space to explore. Wildlife rehabilitator Kelsey notes that the Bobcat is still very wary and uninterested in humans.

The rehabilitation extern students have enjoyed making a variety of enrichment items for the juvenile cat – including a specially carved pumpkin!

One of the students will be working on creating a shelf for the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure; the current plan is to install it in the back corner of the right side of the LMI.

On October 16, the veterinary team anesthetized Bobcat #19-2408 for repeat diagnostics and a physical exam.

The kitten was captured in a net and injected with sedative medication. The Bobcat fell asleep quickly and was brought down to the clinic for radiographs, blood collection, and a physical exam.

Dr. Karra reports, “The physical exam was appropriate for a bobcat kitten. Compared to the previous exam, the patient has grown substantially and gained more than 1.0 kg in a month – today she was 3.0 kg! Her adult canine teeth are starting to come in on the bottom, with her deciduous (baby teeth) becoming loose. Based on her tooth development and recent growth spurt, I would think she is between four and six months of age.

“This kitten was in excellent body condition with adequate fat stores. Radiographs were performed and were unremarkable. Blood was collected for a complete blood count and chemistry. A fecal sample was collected for analysis since this Bobcat has a history of fecal parasites for which she has previously been treated. Currently, I would consider this bobcat to be clinically healthy, and an appropriate size and body condition.


“Recovery was uneventful and she was moved to the left side of the Large Mammal Isolation (LMI) enclosure. I have been watching her on the camera this afternoon, and she has been exploring the enclosure and climbing logs and such. The plan from here will be to continue to allow her to grow and develop in LMI, and possibly start introducing larger live prey items so she can hone her hunting skills.”

The Bobcat will be at the Center until spring 2020. Keep an eye out for her on Critter Cam 3!

On September 18, the veterinary and rehabilitation teams anesthetized Bobcat #19-2408 for a physical exam and weight, so see if the bobcat was large enough to move to the Large Mammal enclosure. The staff were surprised to see that the Bobcat still has a rather small stature and had not gained much weight [1.94 kg]; veterinary intern Dr. Karra noted that the young cat was in fair body condition – she’s just undersized, compared to what the staff expected. Dr. Karra reported, “The remainder of the physical exam was within normal limits. Blood was collected to do an overall health screen, as well as screen for various infectious agents that could explain the kitten’s small size. The Bobcat tested negative for these infectious diseases, and overall the blood work was unremarkable.

“In the week prior to the exam, the young cat was treated for fecal parasites, which we thought might be contributing to the lack of growth and weight gain. At this time, it is not known why she’s still small in stature; however, since we do not know the exact age of this patient, it is difficult to predict just how large she should be at this point. It is possible this patient has an underlying medical condition leading to her small size; while many serious diseases have been ruled out, it is also possible the Bobcat is still quite young and not yet reached her peak growth period.

“Bobcat kittens grow the most between four and seven months of age, so the vet team will continue to monitor the growth and development of this young patient during the coming months. The rehabilitation team will continue to offer high-quality food to support growth and development. In a month, the veterinary team will anesthetize the Bobcat again to perform another physical exam and other diagnostics tests as indicated.”

After the Black Bear cubs recently moved from the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure to the Black Bear Complex, the rehabilitation staff decided to weigh Bobcat #19-2408 on September 6 to see if she was large enough to move to the Large Mammal enclosure. The bobcat weighed 1.89 kg – which was less than the rehabilitation staff was expecting. The Bobcat has been eating well, so the rehabilitation staff increased the kitten’s food, and also collected a fecal sample. The technician team found that the young Bobcat has several types of parasites – which could account for the slower weight gain.

The Bobcat started a 10-day course of an oral anti-parasitic, which will be placed in her food. The rehabilitation staff will attempt to weigh the Bobcat again in two weeks after treatment has ended.

Bobcat kitten #19-2408 has been doing well in the Center’s Bear Pen enclosure; the wildlife rehabilitation staff check on the kitten each day when they drop off food, though the staff note that they don’t always readily see the young elusive cat. This is an excellent sign; raising a lone bobcat kitten isn’t ideal, but fortunately, this young animal doesn’t want anything to do with humans.

After the Black Bear cubs move from the Large Mammal enclosure to the Black Bear Complex, the staff will consider moving the Bobcat from the Bear Pens to the Large Mammal enclosure. This area will give the kitten more room, and will also allow her to experience more sights, smells, and sounds of the forest. Wildlife rehabilitator Kelsey notes that, in years past, a young bobcat has been moved to this space when it was at least 3.0 kg; the staff will want to make sure the kitten is large enough that escape from the enclosure won’t be an option. Stay tuned for more updates as the kitten grows, and watch for her this fall on Critter Cam!