Emaciated Bobcat at WildCare

Emaciated Bobcat at WildCare

Watch Our Now-healthy Bobcat Return to the Wild

Wildlife photographer Sarah Killingsworth jumped at the chance to photograph our Bobcat patient during his pre-release exam, and also to snap some shots of him returning to the wild.

Sarah is something of an expert at photographing Bobcats. Enjoy her beautifully-photographed essay on these gorgeous felines in the most recent issue of Bay Nature magazine! View the article here.

Enjoy Sarah's photos in the gallery above, and, in case you missed it, read the story of this Bobcat's intake into the Wildlife Hospital on March 14 below!


Emaciated Bobcat Admitted to WildCare (story from April 8, 2021)

Photos by Brenna Maillet

In the photos above you can see how thin this Bobcat was upon his admission to WildCare's Wildlife Hospital. He's sedated in these photos so our team could weigh him and examine him, but even without sedation, this cat was weak and listless.

He had been spotted, sitting on the back porch of a Point Reyes home, not moving and sitting in a pool of his own urine. Seeing him in such a situation, mostly unresponsive, even when dogs approached, this cat's rescuers knew he needed help. A Marin Humane officer was called to capture the cat and transport him to WildCare.

Once the cat was in the Wildlife Hospital, our team noted in his chart that "the cat sees us and will growl, but he is not exhibiting any defensive behavior." This is very unusual for a wild Bobcat!

The initial exam showed that the cat was extremely thin and scruffy. Upon intake he was too weak to be fully sedated for radiographs or a more comprehensive exam, so he was placed in a warm kennel to rest overnight.

After a couple of days of rest and recuperation, the Bobcat was stable enough to allow sedation.

Radiographs (x-rays) didn't reveal any injuries. However, lab tests showed that the cat had an extremely heavy load of parasites, both external (like ticks and fleas) and internal.

Our Medical Team examined the cat's teeth to determine his age, and they were surprised to see that the cat was relatively young. An older animal may not be able to hunt successfully, leading to weakness and debilitation. The team had theorized that advanced age had caused this cat's condition. 

But why would a relatively young and uninjured cat become so debilitated by parasites?

All wild animals host an array of parasites. It's normal to admit mammal patients to the Wildlife Hospital with fleas and ticks, as well as internal parasites. As such, anti-parasitic treatment is a regular part of long-term care for many patients.

But this cat's load of parasites was extreme, and they had debilitated him to the point that he would have died, had he not been rescued in time.

One possible explanation for his condition is exposure to anticoagulant rat poison.

Numerous studies have shown that these toxic poisons can inhibit the immune systems of healthy animals that eat poisoned rats and mice. A compromised immune system creates an environment for parasites to thrive more than usual.

This cat is too thin to allow our team to draw the amount of blood required for a rodenticide test, but rodenticide exposure is our working hypothesis for the cat's condition.

Learn more about WildCare's work to combat the use of these deadly poisons.

Fortunately, after approximately two weeks in care, the Bobcat is feeling much better!

After his initial few days of intensive care, including IV fluids, regular meals, anti-parasitic treatment, and time to rest have helped him become a normal, healthy Bobcat!

Watch in the video below as our team provides fresh food and water for the cat.

Turn up the volume to hear the cat growling!

To protect staff from the now much healthier Bobcat, WildCare's Facilities Manager, Steven, built a protective board (like those used at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito) to allow one team member to block any aggression from the cat, while the other cleans his cage and provides fresh food and water.

Although he continues to need time to heal and regain his strength, this Bobcat has made an excellent recovery. We have high hopes that he will be released back to the wild soon.