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.