Update: 3/11/14: Thanks to our wonderful SkipAHolics, who keep a constant eye on our hospitalized cats, we were able to detect that Cypress the bobcat was straining to defecate again. She went in to Ehrlich Road Animal Hospital to be examined and it was clear that she is never going to heal properly and be able to pass food; not even the ground diet she’s been getting. The only humane option was to euthanize her while she was asleep.
Tributes to her brief, but inspiring life, are here: https://sites.google.com/site/bigcattributes/home/cypress-bobcat
Video clip from DropCam showing how we care for her in the recovery cage:
The Rescue of Cypress the Bobcat
January 4, 2014 9:28 am a call comes in from Bob Strouse who reports that a bobcat has been struck by a car and has dragged herself off the road at Cypress Gardens Boulevard and Hwy 27 in Winter Haven, FL. He has called Animal Control, a local rehabber and several vets, but no one will come help the bobcat.
Timeline of the rescue:
I told the caller I would start heading his way and asked him to see if the bobcat was still alive. I loaded up the Toyota Tundra, that our Facebook fans helped us win, with nets, carriers and other tools to catch the bobcat. I lost precious time doing that so we really need to buy some BIG nets, falconry gloves and dog size carriers to keep in the Tundra for such emergencies. Amazon Wish List
I tried hard not to speed, because the last thing I needed was to waste precious time over a speeding ticket, but I knew from Bob’s voice that he was clearly upset that the cat was so close to traffic and so close to disappearing into the brush on the side of the road, on the other side of a barbed wire fence. Meanwhile he had called his wife, Lauree Strouse, to bring a big blanket and a carrier.
When I arrived on the scene there were 3 trucks and 3 people, including Bob and Lauree Strouse and their friend Shawn Patterson, between the 4 lane highway and the barbed wire fence, where the bobcat had dragged herself to evade capture. I had suggested throwing a blanket over her so that she would feel safe, but the brush on the other side of the fence was so thick that it had been impossible to do.
In the image below you can see a scrubby tree out in the water. When these kind motorist and I circled around her she managed to drag herself with just her front paws through that muck to the other side of the tree. When we stepped into that freezing cold, black murky water we sunk up to our knees. It was like quicksand and I could feel myself being sucked down deeper with each step toward the bobcat. The muck was so thick it sucked our shoes right off so we were “running” barefoot, in slow motion.
On the other side of the tree the bobcat had gotten into water over her head. Her look of determination turned to horror as she realized that no matter how fast she paddled with her front legs she was sinking fast. She looked back at me with the most pitiful look as she was about to be sucked below the surface. Tears for her terror welled in my eyes as I lunged forward through the tree reaching out as far as I could shove the net through that tangle of branches.
She seized one last gulp of air before the net came up under her and lifted her out of the water. Bob said rather incredulously to me, “You’ve obviously done this before!” What he didn’t know, and I couldn’t possibly explain in that moment, was that only angels could have guided that net through the brush, under the bobcat and lifted her to safety. I am not that good and certainly, at age 52, not that strong.
Now I had her sitting like a fish in the net and any bobcat who has ever been in my net that way has quickly clamored over the edge and out. I needed to flip the net up vertically so she would be trapped in the bag end of the net with the barred rim holding the bag closed, but I was stuck, up to my knees in mud, leaning full forward on the tiny branches of the tree and couldn’t imagine how I was going to stand up.
If the branches broke, I was going to fall face forward onto this little broken bobcat and probably drown us both. I heaved up and backward with all the strength I could summon, flipped the net shut and felt myself going over backward. An angel, in the form of one of the motorists, was there to steady me.
Lauree asked how they could help and I asked them to bring the big blanket they had and the smaller of the two carriers I had brought. The bigger one would have been easier to get her into, but it wouldn’t fit through the tight tangle of undergrowth. They hauled the carrier to the only high spot on the inside of the barbed wire fence, and I staggered, zombie like, through the muck, one deep step at a time to this higher ground, all the while being careful not to tip the net open.
Getting the feisty little bobcat out of the net and into the carrier was no small feat either. Never mind that we had just saved her life and saved her from dying in the cold black muck alongside a highway. She wasn’t going in that carrier; no matter how soft and comfy that big fluffy blanket looked. We tried pushing her with the other net, but she wasn’t going to be forced and was spread eagle over the opening.
I was really wishing I had brought gloves, but time was wasting and she had to get to a vet, so while the heroes on the scene distracted her, I held the hoop of the net to the carrier door with my right hand and shoved my left hand as far under her body, and away from those teeth, to hoist her up and through the hole.
Angrily she spun around and began biting the nets, the door and a water bowl that was attached to the door, so it took a while to ease the nets out through a crack, without her lunging out against the barely open door. Once she was in the carrier they helped me carry it back to the Tundra on the side of the road, but we paused for this quick picture first. (A Polkism, I’m told) Each step was treacherous and backing through a barbed wire fence is no fun either, but the first part of the rescue was a success. I could not have done it without all three of these Good Samaritans, and the angels that surrounded us.
Bob and Lauree Strouse and another helpful motorist all stayed with the young, injured bobcat until help arrived. They were the difference between life and death for this little bobcat! Most of the calls we get are from people who are “too busy” to stay with the bobcat so we end up searching for hours and sometimes days, to no avail. These three wouldn’t let her out of their sight and called me repeatedly to help me with directions and to give me updates on her painful attempts to pull herself away from all the traffic, using only her front legs.
While I was driving the bobcat from the far side east side of Winter Haven to the far west side of Tampa, Jamie Veronica, our President, was frantically trying to arrange for vet care on a Saturday afternoon. She called on her husband, Dr. Justin Boorstein to help on his day off, she called our primary vet, Dr. Wynn to see if we could use her clinic and if she was around and she called Blue Pearl.
Dr. Wynn had a full day of clients but agreed to let us bring the little bobcat, who weighed in at a mere 16.2 pounds, to the Ehrlich Animal Hospital.
L-R Dr Liz Wynn, Jamie Veronica, Cypress the bobcat, Dr. Justin Boorstein. Dr. Wynn ascertained from the physical exam that Cypress had no broken legs, but that her pelvis felt like it was crushed. This was about the worst news we could get, so she sent the yearling bobcat kitten in for -rays.
Here Ben, a tech at Ehrlich Animal Hospital, is putting lube in her eyes to protect them while the bobcat is sedated and then she is put on anesthesia gas.
Dr. Boorstein holds the anesthesia mask over the bobcat kitten’s nose while Ben shaves her forepaw to insert a catheter to give her fluids and medication.
Her blood work looked good, with no cat diseases that would prevent her release, so we continue.
Cats in general have an amazing ability to heal themselves. The bobcat arrived with a bleeding toe and a puncture wound above her eye, and road rash on her joints as she bounced along the pavement after the impact, but the toe wound has already disappeared completely. Dr. Justin is cutting away the ravaged edges of her wounds and closing them with skin glue.
The bobcat’s temperature was only 92 degrees and should have been about 100-101 so she is on a full body heating pad, has warmed water bottles snuggled up to her and a thick blanket over the top to keep her from going into shock.
Jamie holds the mask over the bobcat’s face so the vets and techs can do their work.
The bobcat has a seriously deep puncture wound right above her eye. She was very lucky not to loose the eye but we aren’t sure what caused this. It seems unlikely that any part of a car hitting her would cause this kind of puncture, so maybe she did it scurrying away from the scene when she bellied under a barbed wire fence, but bobcats are usually tougher skinned than that. Maybe it is what led to her being in the highway in the first place. Right next to the scene were bulldozers plowing down her forest. She’s obviously a youngster and most like being pushed out of this territory by her mom and siblings, so it could have been a battle over territory that sent her running for the other side of the highway, where she got smashed by a car.
The results of the x-rays showed that her pelvis was crushed by the impact. It is broken in 4 places and 2 of them are places that will be very difficult, if not impossible to plate and pin. We consulted with orthopedic specialists, Dr. Hay and Dr. Salas, and both are telling us that two of the breaks are pretty “easy” to fix, but the other two are just about impossible to plate, so what they often suggest, with cats, is cage rest in the hopes that the cat will remain calm enough to let the bones mend back together on their own.
Just judging from the x-rays, the vets fear that even if they can do extensive reconstruction of her pelvis that she may never be whole enough to hunt. That was the beginning of an emotionally painful decision that we have to make; ie, should we euthanize her so that she doesn’t have to go through surgery, recovery and then likely live her life in a cage, or do we do every thing we can surgically, hope for a miracle in her own healing abilities, since she is young, strong and has a vicious will to survive, and then see how she does over the next few months?
These are such tough decisions because we could put her through all of this only to end up with her life being one of captivity that she will probably hate because she has known what it was like to roam for miles, choose her own favorite hunting and sleeping spots and everything else that comes from living free. I hate having to make these decisions and rely on the advice of our vets and Jamie’s sense of fairness to the cat. For now our plan is to take her in for more x-rays, and probably surgery if that is deemed best by all involved for the cat.
The black on her tooth is just dirt. Dr. Justin was checking to be sure her jaw was not broken and that no teeth were broken from the impact.
FHO Surgery at Blue Pearl by Dr. Salas
Cypress the rehab bobcat was taken to Blue Pearl today where Dr. Salas (same doctor who did Tonga’s surgery) performed a FHO – Femoral Head Ostectomy. You can read more about the procedure here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Femoral_head_ostectomy
She is recovering in the cat hospital and we hope that after 6-8 weeks of cage rest she will show enough improvements to be considered a candidate for release.
During these 6-8 weeks she must be kept in small quarters in the cat hospital and it is imperative that she remain calm.
What happens for Cypress the bobcat will largely depend on her. We will watch her progress and her demeanor and as long as she is willing to fight for life we will try to give her the best opportunity to enjoy it to the fullest.
You can help us cover the cost of her surgery, which was be upwards of $1,400 and enable us to be there for other cats in distress by donating here: http://www.razoo.com/story/Bigcat2013
The photos below are a family of bobcats who live just 10 miles from the site of this accident. Bobcats will often patrol 5 square miles of territory.
Bobcat Avoids Gator at Circle B Bar Reserve