Cat Nipped

By staff October 1, 2003

Bobcats (Lynx rufus) are often overlooked because they have adapted well to human encroachment, hunting by night and hiding during daylight. Though only twice the size of a domestic cat, and less than a third the size of a Florida panther, these wily and majestic creatures are almost impossible to tame.

They were common on the New Mexico ranch where I grew up, but since moving east, I had not seen one until a young male was brought into the wildlife rehab clinic where I volunteered. A car crash had left him injured and his jaw shattered. His only hope for survival was skilled veterinary surgery and a lot of care.

At first we kept our distance, feeding him blended food, then, as he healed, increasingly large chunks of meat. After six months he was ready for release. When we opened his cage door back out in the wild, he sat for a moment, then turned and loped into the brush.

Did he survive? We'll never know for sure. Several months later, we saw tracks in the area and heard a scream, probably from a female in heat. Was she calling to him? I like to think so, and to imagine his kittens are roaming the wild, too.

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