Orphaned Baby Bobcat Gets Second Chance
Written by Jamie Veronica, President of Big Cat Rescue and the baby bobcats caregiver
On a cold December night a little boy scooped up a nearly dead kitten in a parking lot and asked his Dad to get the cat to a vet. When the kitten was discovered to be a bobcat the vet refused to treat the dying cub and one of the technicians called Big Cat Rescue to come save her. When Big Cat Rescuers arrived the baby was wrapped in a flag and deep in shock. We had faith that we could bring her back from the edge of death and named her Faith.
When Faith first arrived she was estimated to be about 4-6 weeks old. She was emaciated, dehydrated, and extremely weak. The very night that she came to the rescue the decision had to be made as to whether she should be raised to live a life in captivity or to be released back into the wild. Everything that rescuers did from this moment forward would affect either of these options. This was a very tough choice. On the one hand she would be raised to be trusting of humans so that her life in captivity would be one of tolerance, on the other hand she would be raised to be wild, with bare minimum human contact so that she could be released back into her natural habitat when she proved ready. The former was an easier path, but would ultimately end up with another sad bobcat in a cage for 20 years, the latter would be a challenge and the end result was not a guarantee.
Big Cat Rescue had never rehabilitated such a young bobcat; the cub would need to be taught how to hunt and to find water, and shelter. If she did not prove to be a good candidate for release she would be doomed to spend out her days in captivity fearful of humans. The decision was made to raise this young cub for release.
As soon as she was out of the incubator in intensive care at Carrollwood Cats (our vet who did treat her) Faith was immediately introduced to a diet of whole prey. The next step was to teach her to hunt. When she was 18 months old and had proven her ability to catch her own dinner in a specially designed cage that made escape easy for the prey, we believed she was ready.
Several staff, volunteers and interns convoyed to the release site to witness what every person in the animal field longs to see; a wild animal that has been given a second chance to be free. As Faith bounded towards freedom a bittersweet feeling took over onlookers, a sadness to say goodbye and see her go and a swelling pride in knowing that she was going to make it. Several tracking expeditions later we believe from the signs that she is doing fine.