Bobcat kittens get second chance

Updated: Tuesday, 01 Jun 2010, 10:20 PM EDT

Published : Tuesday, 01 Jun 2010, 10:20 PM EDT
TAMPA – Three baby bobcats arrived at Big Cat Rescue last month with an uncertain future. But now, they're thriving, thanks to a stray that treats them just like her own.
"Bobbi" became a surrogate mom to three little orphaned bobcats handed over to a vet by an Alabama hunter.
"He asked the veterinary hospital if they could raise the baby bobcats so he could give them to his kids," said veterinarian Liz Wynn, with Big Cat Rescue.
An internet search landed them at Big Cat Rescue, a sanctuary where they have seen this situation, and helped out before.
"In the past, we've raised an orphaned baby bobcat by using a domestic cat surrogate, so we knew it could work if we could find the right mommy," Wynn said.
They found her at Suncoast Animal League: a former stray who somehow knew these little ones really need her:
"When they come up to her, she just rolls over and lets them nurse and loves on them, so she's doing a good job," Wynn said.
They're still nursing, but eating ground turkey too. Armed with sharp little teeth and claws, they'll stay with Bobbi — until they start acting like bobcats.
In the meantime, Big Cat staff minimize human contact:
"We don't talk around them. We don't hug or cuddle them. We just do what we need to do and stop so they don't get used to people." Wynn said. "We don't want them to think that people are their friends. We want them to be afraid of people."
Wynn said that hands-off approach will improve the odds that the bobcats will make it in the wild.
They'll have to learn to catch their own food before they can be released, and that would be in about a year or so back in their native Alabama.

For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

Caring for cats – Ending the trade

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