Meet the 2 lb Rehab Rescue Bobcat named Spirit Feather
July 20, 2016: Another 2am success story! When this little bobcat was separated from her mom, and found in the middle of the road, good samaritans turned her in at a clinic in the middle of the state. Who are you going to call at 10:30 pm when you have a bobcat in a box taped shut? Big Cat Rescue, of course.
One look at that defiant little face and you know you are going to have your hands full!
Despite her tiny size Spirit Feather inspires her new name with her ferocity. Feather was a tribute to our blessed Little Feather, but this little bobcat showed us that Spirit just had to be part of her new name.
Dr. Justin Boorstein, DVM and Jamie Veronica Boorstein, have their hands full while trying to do a SNAP test and give the first set of kitten shots to Spirit Feather. Even though handling her is difficult, it’s exactly what we want for her. She needs to see humans as the enemy if she is going to survive in the wild one day.
Ms. Claws has not grown like she should and has been too small to take on the kind of prey she needs to survive. We are giving her more time in rehab to put on some size (she’s fat, but tiny) and to hone her skills.
Mr. Claws has done a great job of healing and preparing for life in the wild, so he was returned to the same county where he was found and set free.
You can help us rescue, rehab and release bobcats, like Mr. Claws with the purchase of this fun, new tee called, My Bobcat’s in Rehab.
Meet Mr. and Mrs. Claws
Having been rescued from Christmas, Florida, we just couldn’t resist the timely names. Help make their holiday wishes come true by supporting their rehab and release back to the wild.
We wish they could talk, because it would take a lot of the guesswork out of their care. Based on the injuries and and reports by Carol Hardee, the rehabber who was the first on the scene for both kittens, here is how it probably happened.
See the video at the bottom of the page to understand why they were separated. The webcam footage is black and white and grainy because it was captured after dark using IR cameras.
September 2015 Mrs Claws:
Only a few weeks old, and not barely 3 pounds, she was being shaken to the core. She could barely breathe due to the crushing jaws that had snatched her from her den. Being shaken wildly, she could barely think, much less scream out for her mother, to return and save her. The tiny bobcat was flung into the air, and hitting the ground rolled a few feet, but before she could gather her balance to run, she was snatched up again. She was being carried away by some monster that was having fun playing with her, like she was a toy, but she was bleeding and this “toy” wasn’t going to last long.
With every last bit of strength, and every thing she learned from being raised by one of the most fierce of all felines, she bit and clawed back. She aimed for the eyes and the sensitive nose, since that’s all she could reach from her vantage point of being held in the mouth of this creature. With a yelp her freedom had been secured. She didn’t know if it would be for a moment, or for good. She had to find her mother as soon as possible. She was just too young to be dealing with this terror on her own.
She called and called, but she’d been carried too far away. Her mother couldn’t find her and she was too small and too badly injured to find her way back to the nest. But Carol Hardee, of the Wildlife Rehab Center, found her and began treating her life threatening wounds.
The kitten doubled in size, but was reaching an age when she would need to be transferred to a rehab center that could teach her to hunt. A mother will spend a year and a half, or more, teaching her kittens how to hunt, how to stay away from people and how to survive in a tough world. This kitten was about ready to make that move, to a new stage of training, when Mr. Claws arrived on the scene.
November 5 2015 Mr Claws
He had found a warm spot under the hood of a car to hide until dark. He’d gotten too far out of the woods for his own good, and now there were kids running wild in the YMCA parking lot, so he figured he would just wait it out. The one thing his mother hadn’t taught him about being a bobcat, is that you should never go near cars, even if they are sitting still and being silent.
When the owner returned, the slam of the door almost gave him enough notice, but not quite. The key turned in the ignition and a ton of metal gears, belts and a fan roared to life. The fan both cut him to the bone in one leg, while snapping another leg bone in two. He was flipped out to the pavement beneath. As the owner of the car backed out of the parking space, he saw the young bobcat trying desperately to pull himself to safety with his front paws.
Not knowing what to do, the auto driver called the police. They called the Florida Wildlife Commission and between them managed to capture the broken little bobcat in a box.
Again, the closest rehabber was Carol Hardee, of the Wildlife Rehab Center, who does her life saving work from a ranch in the woods, on Reindeer Lane in Christmas, Florida.
Due to family matters she was not able to get the bobcat X-rayed, but could see that he was not recovering properly and it really was time for the little female to start to learn to hunt. Carol Hardee called Carole Baskin, of Big Cat Rescue to see if we could take both bobcats and finish their rehab and release.
Jamie Veronica made the 5 hour round trip, ending at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, where Mr. Claws was rushed into X-ray. Jamie’s husband, Dr. Boorstein, had enlisted the help of Dr. Bard and tech, Jamie Gibbs, and the four of them worked on saving Mr. Claws leg for the next 4 hours.
There was no handling this wild child, so he had to be sedated.
The vets were able to get a good look at his face, noting a slight ulceration to the eye, and some broken and missing teeth. The gash was cleaned and sewed up. His tail had been separated in the spinal column, but no outer damage was visible. It could have happened in the accident, or someone may have grabbed him by the tail trying to save him. The tail may be dead and might have to be amputated later.
The damage to the back leg bone is obvious, but what is less obvious is that the pelvis is cracked and uneven. This may heal or may need further surgery. Dr. Boorstein is consulting with orthopedic specialist, Dr. Callum Hay.
Humane Society of Tampa Bay vet tech, Jamie Gibbs, prepares Mr. Claws for surgery.
Dr. Justin Boorstein and Dr. Bard working to save Mr. Claws leg.
Pins in the bone to hold it together under the skin. You can’t put a cast on a wild cat. They will chew it or their leg off.
We can’t know for certain what happened to either of these kittens before they arrived here, but one thing we do know for certain is that we will always be here to help wild cats like them, as long as you are by our side.
We Sure Hope They Kiss and Make Up Before Valentine’s Day
More Photos of Mr and Mrs Claws
Mr. and Mrs. Claws are in our onsite West Boensch Cat Hospital temporarily. Soon we hope to send them to a far larger outdoor space where they can begin to get ready for life in the wild. At this writing we have 6 bobcats in rehab and desperately need to build a larger rehab area to accommodate this growing need.
He’s in the hospital until we get a clean fecal sample from him. If he doesn’t have hookworms he will be cleared to go out in the 1200 sf enclosure next to Ms Claws. For now you can check in on him here, but be very, very quiet: https://video.nest.com/live/2zgUFP
Cage rest sounds pretty peaceful for the cat, but it’s a real challenge for the caregivers.
See 2 playlists of some of our rehab bobcats
While we do bobcat rescue, rehab and release in Florida, we will not relocate bobcats as state law requires that they be released very near where they were captured. They must be released on at least 40 acres and we must get written permission from the owner of the property. They may not be released into state owned parks (strangely) but rather must be released on privately owned land with the land owner’s consent.
Big Cat Rescue has decades of experience rehabbing and releasing bobcats back to the wild where they belong. We provide huge, naturalistic enclosures where these cats can learn or perfect their hunting skills before being released back to the wild. We have trained staff who are experts at capturing an injured bobcat or hand rearing orphaned bobcats until a surrogate can be found.
We go to great lengths to keep these wild cats from imprinting on humans and monitor their care via surveillance cameras to make sure they are thriving. When they are healed, or old enough for release (about 18 months of age) we find the best habitat possible for sustaining them and set them free to live out the life that nature intended.
If you have a bobcat emergency in a state other than Florida, we can help you find a rehabber or will be a resource to wildlife rehabilitators who need help with bobcats, lynx or cougars. When you are searching for a bobcat rehabber ask the following questions:
1. Do they have experience with bobcats?
2. How big are their rehab enclosures? (Ours start at 1200 square feet and some are double that)
3. Do they feed a live diet of prey to insure that the cats will be able to hunt for themselves?
4. Do they keep people, including themselves to the extent possible, away from the bobcat so that they do not imprint on people and end up approaching humans after release?
5. Do they have a vet on staff or on call 24/7 for emergencies?
Rehabbing and releasing bobcats is much more difficult that the rehabilitation of most wildlife. These magnificent little wildcats need every opportunity to fulfill their role in nature and Big Cat Rescue is here to give them that second chance.
We are thinking the bobcat rehab rebuild is going to run $345,000.00
The area that would be most suitable on our property would allow a foot print of about 200 feet by 800 feet and would give us about 1/3 of that in thick woods and 2/3 in grassy runs. The woods are a blessing and a curse when we are talking chain link boxes.
Click map to see larger
The pink areas are our permanent big cat residents. The green shaded area is where we want to move our bobcat rehab facilities. It will be the opposite end of our property from the new hotel that is going in on Easy Street.
The 18 acre lake was dug out by the previous owner and then he was filling it in, starting w/ the green shaded area, with concrete and construction materials from demolition sites. He dug the lake down to 30 feet in places, so we could have that much concrete to drill through.
Wild bobcats DO dig, so we have to have a floor. That’s why I was thinking that a big chain link box, complete with roof and floor, might actually work there. It would have to be 1 in mesh and at least 11.5 gauge to meet state standards and keep their live rats from escaping. We would put dirt, grass and shrubs over the flooring after install.
This year we had 7 bobcats in rehab, which is the most we’ve had at one time, but as our reputation for successful releases grows, more cats seem to end up here, so we need to be ready for that growing demand.
We are confident that we can end the practice of private ownership of big cats, so the wildlife rehab work will expand as the need for big cat sanctuaries decreases with our legislative wins.
We own the three houses and two barns that are south of the green shaded area, so there is water, power and Internet nearby. The main house and the two barns have a life estate by the elderly owner though, so I’d have to build something for indoor care of injured cats, but it wouldn’t have to be huge because of the opportunity to take over the existing structures soon.
Currently the intensive care is done in our on site Cat Hospitals, but it would really be nice to have the wild bobcats totally away from the hubbub of the sanctuary, in their own recovery facilities adjoining the outdoor runs.
What I envision here are 8 long, narrow runs, maybe 20 by 230 each, that could be opened up into 4 that are 20 x 470 when there are 4 or fewer cats. Still puzzling about how to make the space expandable, without shared walls, which are just a tragedy waiting to happen.
Whether a bobcat comes to us injured or orphaned, they usually go through these stages:
1. Inside intensive care
2. Outside, small (low) cages so they don’t climb and fall.
3. 1000 -2500 square feet of space to perfect their hunting, climbing, hiding skills.
Another factor that I haven’t quite figured out yet, is how to mount cameras so that we can make sure the cats are doing well, and to engage the public. Our Bobcat Rehab camera is very popular at http://explore.org/live-cams/player/big-cat-rescue-bobcat-rehab-and-release and a great way to engage people in caring about wildlife, so I want to build it with a goal of it being a good virtual visual experience.
Each cage will require 27,120 sf of 1 in chain link mesh. Or roughly 64,750 linear feet of 8 foot high chain link mesh.
Below are mockups by Kenni Pedersen of what the bobcat rehab runs will look like.
Kricket the serval was born in 2001 and had been kept as a pet, but when her owners divorced, the wife decided that she didn’t have time for Kricket and began looking for a home for her.
We agreed to rescue Kricket and began preparing an enclosure for her with lots of places to hide and fun things to explore, she’d just spent the last ten years living indoors so we wanted to make her adjustment to life outside as stress free and enjoyable as possible.
Her owner was willing to contract with us to never possess another exotic cat, Kricket was then shipped from Virginia to Florida via Delta Dash.
We were at the airport to pick her up and Joseph the lion gave Kricket a roaring welcome to the sanctuary when she arrived!
Exotic cats kept as pets are often fed improper diets resulting in serious health problems. Her former owner, a vegan, insisted that Kricket chose a predominantly vegetarian diet, but we’ve never known a cat to do so.
The former owner said the deformities that Kricket suffers from were from injuries and not diet related.
She insisted that Kricket preferred broccoli to animals, but here Kricket loves the variety of raw meat.
Whatever Kricket’s diet was it’s obviously taken a toll on the little serval, her back and rear legs show signs of stunted development and her tail is unusually curled, which is most likely the result of her past injuries, inbreeding that is common in the pet trade and her insufficient diet. Some of Kricket’s bone deformities have improved since she has been on an improved diet.
Watch more about Kricket and a few of her new serval friends who were rescued the same year.
Male DOB 1/1/03
Caravel (Caracal / Serval Hybrid)
Meet Jo Jo the Caracal Serval Hybrid
I first met JoJo the Caracal / Serval hybrid at the South Florida Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in 2005 after a hurricane had taken down the perimeter fencing and dumped piles of deadfall on the cages.
The owner, Dirk Neugebohm, had ended up in the hospital with a heart attack from trying to clean the mess up by himself.
He wrote from what he thought was his deathbed back then to anyone and everyone he could think of asking for help; and asking for help was not something that came easily to this hard working German.
What we found, when Howard and I visited, was a man who was way in over his head. Donations were almost non existent, the cages were old, dilapidated, small and concrete floored. The freezer had been damaged and he had lost his food supply, so we sent food and volunteers to help him clean up and rebuild.
The tiger back then was Sinbad, who lived in what is commonly used for housing parrots. An oval corn crib cage with a metal roof. Sinbad died recently after a snake bite, leaving Krishna, pictured, as the only remaining tiger.
We had a donor and a sanctuary (Safe Haven in NV) that were willing to take Krishna, but we were told that the Florida Wildlife Commission had found someone less than 6 miles away to take him.
Dirk managed to keep his sanctuary afloat, if just barely, for the next 8 years, but a couple days ago one of his volunteers, Vickie Saez, who we had been helping for the past couple of years with infrastructure and social networking, contacted us to say that Dirk was dying of brain cancer in the hospital and that she had convinced him to let the animals go to other homes. She said the Florida Wildlife Commission had arranged for most of the homes, but that Dirk was very happy that we could take JoJo. Our sweet Caracal, Rose, had died July 31st and her cage was empty.
We were told that all of the other cats had new homes waiting, except for Nola the cougar, but she was very ill. We offered to pay a vet to do blood work on her to make sure that she was not contagious. We were concerned because she had a history of some very contagious diseases, which had left her severely debilitated. What concerned us was that her caretaker said she looked bloated.
A vet had arrived to help with the transfer of two leopards to a place in Jupiter. He sedated Nola to see what was wrong.
We are told that he palpitated three melon sized tumors in her abdomen and that with every touch of her belly she exuded foamy blood from her nose and anus. He was sure that there was no hope for her and humanely euthanized her.
This photo was Nola back in 2011. While we were sad that we would not be able to give Nola a new home here at Big Cat Rescue we are glad that she is not suffering any more.
JoJo at Big Cat Rescue
JoJo has arrived at Big Cat Rescue and settled in nicely. It is quite possibly his first time to walk on the soft earth.
His cage has been a small (maybe 60 square feet) of concrete and chain link for at least 8 years and probably longer. He is thought to be about 10 years old. Sometimes breeders hybridize exotic cats because there are no laws on the books that regulate them, but in Florida, the inspectors say, “If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck; it’s a duck.”
JoJo now has 1,200 square feet of earth, bushes, trees and grass.
He really likes the grass. Are you hearing the Beetles lyric, “JoJo left his home in Homestead-Miami looking for some Florida grass?”
Mac was brought here by his owner to be boarded because of zoning laws changing in his owner’s home town, but that was many years ago. He now has a permanent home at Big Cat Rescue and enjoys a 1200 square foot lush Cat.a.tat with a large cave den.
Mac has a particular penchant for small children, as do most big cats. Big cats see children as potential prey and having a big cat as a pet is a recipe for disaster.
When a group comes by on a guided tour, Mac always picks out the smallest child (or person) in the group and you would think there was no one else on the tour if you judged from Mac’s perspective.
Exotic cats are opportunistic hunters and the weak and the small are the easiest targets.