Thor Bobcat on Wildest Animal Rescues
Meet Thor the Bobcat
Who took a car to the face and lived to tell about it!
Update April 28, 2016
On Sunday Thor will be returned to his rightful place in the wild. Be sure that you are a fan of ours on Facebook.com/BigCatRescue and that you have your settings to include us first in the posts you see, so that you don’t miss the LIVE broadcast of his release. Meanwhile, you can read Thor’s miraculous story here: http://BigCatRescue.org/Thor and you can help fund bobcat rescue, rehab and release by purchasing Thor themed tees, totes, mugs, pillows, hoodies, phone cases and more here:
This morning, at 1:15 AM Jamie and Carole responded to a call in Brandon about a bobcat being hit by a car. Dr Justin Boorstein came in and they did Xrays to see what could be done.
Jamie recalls the event:
I got a call at 1:15 AM and it’s a man saying that his wife has found an injured bobcat in the middle of the highway in Brandon. Most people have no idea what a bobcat looks like, so I ask him to have his wife text me a photo. Dang! It’s a bobcat! Now I’m awake.
I call my mom to ask if she has a net and carrier at her house next door, so that I can save time getting to the scene, but she doesn’t. She gets out of bed and says she’ll go with me. As I hop into her truck she says, “Do you have a coat?” It’s in the 50’s, which is freezing to us Floridians, and I say, “I’m in my pajamas! No, I didn’t bring a coat!” Turns out she’s barely dressed and forgot hers too. Thankfully there are blankets in the truck.
The good news about early morning bobcat calls is that there is no one on the streets so we get to the sanctuary (4 miles away) in record time and exchange her pickup truck for the Tundra with a topper that we won in a Facebook contest a few years ago. (Thank you everyone who voted for us!) We had just released Rain and Dancer the 9 month old rehab bobcats the day before, so there are still nets and gloves in the back. We grab a big carrier out of the Emergency Response Center and are on our way.
Meanwhile the Good Samaritan who had called in the accident is frantic because the police have shown up on the scene and told her she can’t stay in the middle of the highway. She puts the officer in charge, in touch with me by phone and he’s saying he doesn’t think the bobcat is going to make it and maybe should be put out of his misery. I tell him that a bobcat in shock can look quite dead, but can regain consciousness very quickly and that they have an amazing ability to heal. I don’t want him to shoot the cat in the head, so I tell him that my husband is a veterinarian and standing by to humanely euthanize him, if that is what has to be done. He asks how long before we will be there, and by now we are about 20 minutes away.
More calls and texts back and forth and the woman who originally called us seems sure the police sent her away so they could dispose of the cat. We are driving as fast as we can, but it’s a long way from Citrus Park to the Brandon mall and we aren’t allowed to use flashing lights and sirens in order to save wildlife. Maybe we need a law that would allow rehabbers the same use as ambulance drivers.
The policeman contact me again and he sounds like he’s ready to call it quits because the bobcat looks so bad. He says that he doesn’t think the cat is going to make it, and that he’s bleeding from the nose and his eyes look bad, and even thinks he can be picked up by hand. By now we are 5 minutes out and ask him to wait. He agrees.
Carole recalls what happened next:
As WAZE is telling us that we are arriving at the location, I see the flashing lights of a patrol car and start to pull up behind it, but then notice there are patrol cars, lights flashing, at every corner of the huge intersection. My first concern is which one should I pull up next to, in order to have our tools closest to the cat, but then my heart leaps with joy to realize that the agency has cordoned off the entire road to insure that no one runs over the bobcat who is crouched in the middle of the road. I’ve never seen the police be so concerned about an injured animal before and it makes me grateful beyond belief.
In the center of all the chaos, I can see him and he looks HUGE. He’s in pain, so he’s all puffed up, but the lights from angle, highlight a halo in his fur tips that make him seem enormous. I wonder to myself if I brought a big enough carrier. Jamie and the officer she had been speaking with grab the nets and I grab the carrier out of the back of the Tundra and head toward the bobcat. As we approach Jamie asks how close the officer has been to the cat so she can assess his fight or flight distance. The officer says he’s been right up on him, but that the cat seems to be recovering. He suggests that perhaps, “His bell has been un-rung” meaning that he thinks the bobcat might be coming to his senses, and may be more likely to bolt.
Artfully Jamie breaks away from the cat’s view of me with a carrier and the police man with a net coming at his face, and sneaks around behind the bobcat. Sure enough, when we are about 10 feet out the bobcat decides that he isn’t going to be taken alive and he uses the last of what he has in him to leap to our left. Jamie comes in like a Ninja with one downward sweep of the net over him as he leaps!
It is a righteous netting (as we call it around Big Cat Rescue) because not only is the net over the cat, but the forward movement of his leap against the netting has landed him over the outside ring of the net’s neck. It is that configuration that allows us to lift a bobcat securely, because they can just hop right out of a net if it doesn’t fold over the edge. My heart swelled with pride that Jamie had shown such proficiency under such pressure. The officer showed some pretty amazing skill as he leapt right into the fray and put his net down over the top of Jamie’s. That little bit of extra security can make the difference between keeping a bobcat in a net and having them break free.
I put the carrier in front of Jamie’s net and ask the officer to trade spots with me. Jamie and I have moved countless cats from nets into carriers over the years and it isn’t easy. One wrong move and the cat is free. In cases like this, where the cats legs were not injured, he could definitely outrun us and get lost in the underbrush before we would be able to catch up. His facial injuries would then cause him to die a long and painful death. We couldn’t risk it.
The officer (rather expertly, I might add) put one foot behind the carrier to brace it. Sometimes an animal goes in so fast that they are able to push the carrier away from the nets and then can turn on a dime to escape through the crack. Jamie lined her net up to the open door and I used mine to push his tail end through the opening. The officer or Jamie, slammed the door shut, while retrieving the netting, but it happened so fast, I’m not sure whose hands were where, but the bobcat was safely secured.
We shouted our thanks out to the officers who were guarding the intersection and gave the officer in charge our brochure to share in case they get more bobcat injury calls. Jamie called her husband, Dr. Justin Boorstein and told him we were successful and on our way to the Windsong Memorial Hospital. He met us there around 2:45 am.
Emergency Diagnostics at the Windsong Memorial Hospital
We posted a live stream to Facebook and invited our fans to watch everything LIVE on our web cam at http://explore.org/live-cams/player/big-cat-rescue-windsong-memorial-cat-hospital Since there were only three of us on site, and we were all wearing lead aprons, we were able to leave the doors open to the Xray room too.
X-rays showed that all of the damage is to his face. His jaw is fractured both top and bottom and will require very delicate surgery and lots of cage rest. His eye socket is crushed around his left eye and the impact and broken bones are putting pressure on his brain and his eye, which is unresponsive. One canine was broken off, but the other three are in good shape. His breathing sounds horrible but we think it is because of the damage to the nasal cavity and the swelling. It looked like there could be some tearing to the trachea, but no way to tell with just X-ray. We really need a sonogram machine.
Thor is in critical shape, but we don’t have all of the extensive bone plates, screws and drill necessary to fix his shattered jaw, so it will be later today before he can be sedated again at another hospital that is better equipped for car strike type injuries.
Since it is now 4:20 am, the vet wants to wait until tomorrow afternoon to sedate him again, as doing so too soon could kill him.
We will post updates as we get them below.
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Find out more about our bobcat rehab program at http://bigcatrescue.org/bobcat-rehab/
Update April 9, 2016
Thor was fed chopped meats during the time that his jaw was healing, but it’s done healing now and he isn’t wanting to kill or eat rats. We found the beak of a bird in his cage, so we presumed that one had managed to get in and get caught by Thor, so we tried him with quail. Ms Claws caught her quail very quickly, but it took Thor longer than we would have liked. We will be counting on our explore.org viewers, who provided these lovely photos, to let us know how his hunting goes.
He may just need more time to rebuild the muscle mass he’s lost while on cage rest for his broken shoulder blade.
Update March 30, 2016
Thor Bobcat has was seen again by Dr Justin Boorstein and Dr Tammy Miller. She thinks his eye will be OK, even if not visual. We have been worried that it may begin to decay, but that hasn’t happened. When he woke up Thor was moved Out to Rehab. He is in now visible at http://explore.org/live-cams/player/big-cat-rescue-bobcat-rehab-and-release
Update Mar 26, 2016
Dr. Miller will be taking a final look at Thor’s bad eye to determine if it should be removed before he is released so that it’s potential decay would not cause him trouble. Of course, we are hoping she will find that the eye is healing, but that’s a long shot. You can watch LIVE 11 am ET today at http://explore.org/live-cams/player/big-cat-rescue-windsong-memorial-cat-hospital
Update Feb 22, 2016
Update Feb 12, 2016
Thor ate 17 ounces of food for breakfast. He’s taking his meds (with a lot of insistence by Jamie) and grooming, but still doesn’t seem to have figured out the water issue. We are still working on ideas. Maybe pond water?
Update Feb 11, 2016
Thor ate 15 ounces of food off a plate, without having to be fed on a stick, but he’s still not drinking. We bought him one of those $100 water fountains, and he’s figured out it is water, because he’s using it as a self flushing toilet. Cats pee in streams and ponds so that others don’t know they are in the area. Now we just have to figure out how to get him to drink out of it, AND elevate it so he can’t pee in it.
Update Feb 10, 2016
Jamie Relays Thor’s Rescue Story to Ops Mgr Gale
Update Feb 6, 2016 Thor Reaches Out
The Eye Drops Seem To Be Working
Update Feb 6, 2016 Thor Lives!
The day after Thor’s surgery to repair his jaw I woke up and raced to my computer to see if he had survived the night on our Arlo cams. Jamie and Gale help me monitor those live webcams, but they don’t offer a public link, like the explore.org/bigcatrescue live webcams do.
Update Feb 5, 2016 4PM
Thor the bobcat is back from the Humane Society of Tampa Bay where Dr. Justin Boorstein repaired his jaw. We are waiting on deciding if the non working eye and broken canine should be removed. We will consult with experts on both to see if either can be saved.
Thor is recovering in the West Boensch Cat Hospital on site and will soon be moved outside.
Thor’s care instructions to the Bobcat Rehab Team
Thor had surgery to repair his lower broken jaw. The break in his upper jaw was not misaligned, and so it will be left to heal on its own. This means that we need to be very careful about spooking him. We do not want him banging up his face when it is in this fragile state. He gets scared very easy, so walk slowly around him and be very quiet.
We are consulting with Dr. Miller with regards to how we can try to save his left eye. He is currently not blinking, and so we may need to try eye drops until the swelling goes down and he is able to blink. Justin and I will try this tomorrow and see how it goes.
For now he is not on any meds, we wanted to see if he would eat tonight before starting them. I will feed and clean him in the morning tomorrow. After that I will update you all on what medications he will need to be on.
We want to keep his meals small the first few days or so. He can only have soft food, so we are going to feed him a tennis ball of mush in the AM and another in the PM.
Thor the Bobcat
He was hunting alone in the middle of night
When suddenly headlights appeared, such a fright.
He was hit by a car in the side of the face,
And he crouched, barely conscious and so out of place.
When humans arrived, oh, the horrible things!
Then he tried to escape, if only he had wings!
They took the poor bobcat to help him to heal,
They pitied him, wondering how he must feel.
His shoulder, his collarbone, jawbone, and eye
Were shattered and swollen, they knew he could die.
As they went to bed, they hoped he would survive
In the morning they checked on him, he was alive!
Although his condition was still so severe,
They all made a promise they would persevere.
Despite his condition he hissed at their meat
And despite all the pain he would stand on his feet.
Poor little bobcat was too scared to eat,
But his stunning persistence Death could not defeat.
Finally, after a long time of fear,
His appetite slowly began to appear.
He hissed and he growled before every bite,
And they knew that his rehab would be quite a fight.
When two months in a tiny cage, healing, were done
It was time to go outside and have some more fun.
His collarbone, jaw, and his shoulder, were fine,
So the rest of his rehab would take a short time.
But the humans were saddened and worried to find
His left eye was dark, it was totally blind.
The humans were happy to see that his eye
Did not hurt a thing, and his hunting was fine.
But unfortunately a small problem arose,
To white rats the bobcat would turn up his nose.
Tasteless white rats were not what he deserved,
He thought he needed soft meat to be served.
He wanted quail, as a fancier dish.
Fancypants bobcat, of course, got his wish.
Even though he was served tastier meals,
He thought this hotel had horrible deals.
He had to escape, there was no way he’d stay,
So he decided to dig out a way.
Unfortunately, the humans filled it in,
So he could never feel freedom again.
But unknown to him, there was freedom nearby.
The humans would soon set him free, free to fly.
When they brought in the crate so he could be released,
Poor bobcat was terrified, to say the least.
Hissing and growling, trying to hide,
Whatever he did, he would not go inside.
They knew they would have to enter even though
The danger was high, but the cat wouldn’t go.
They entered with nets, tension spread through the air.
They knew he could kill them all, but would he dare?
He arched his back high and he puffed out his ruff,
Trying to scare them, it wasn’t enough.
They crept slowly closer and closer, nets high.
The bobcat prepared himself, ready to fly.
The human behind him distracted him so,
Suddenly nets were around him although,
He leapt like a rabbit and thought he escaped,
But nets were all pulling him straight to the crate.
Although stuck in a box and as mad as can be,
He was finally on his way to being free.
Finally all of the setup was done,
They opened the door, but he just would not run.
Normally bobcats would run for the trees,
As fast as they can, ‘cause they’re finally free!
But this special bobcat was not like the rest.
Everything that he did he made sure was a test.
He looked out at the trees with no cages in sight,
But the bobcat would not turn his back on a fight.
They wiggled the box, and they stood it up straight,
But whatever they did he still stayed in the crate.
He finally jumped out and whipped right around,
In typical fashion he just stood his ground.
Hissing and growling like some kind of beast,
If they came one step closer they’d all be deceased.
They slowly backed up just to give him some space,
But he defiantly sat down in place.
The freedom he longed for, a short sprint away,
The humans he hated, he must make them pay.
Hoping to scare him, at least make him peeved,
They ran at him, clapping, and hoping he’d leave.
Of course he just stood his ground arching his back,
And puffing his ruff, courage, he did not lack.
They finally realized to get him to go
They’d have to stay back and make sure they were slow.
After a while, the humans all balked
As the bobcat, to freedom, he casually walked.
They solemnly watched, all with tears in their eye,
The slow, solemn strut of the bobcat, head high.
His pride never wavered, his stubborn displayed,
He never made anything easy, no way.
But slowly excitement and happiness came,
A feeling he had never felt rose aflame.
He entered the trees and he walked by a hill,
And that was the last of the bobcat. Until,
He ran from behind the mound, free as can be,
Sprinting faster and faster, he’s finally free!
His three months’ captivity finally past,
Nothing could stop him, he galloped so fast.
He ran straight toward a fence, but he didn’t slow down,
His thunderclaws pushed and he flew off the ground,
He soared on the wings of the freedom he found
And then he was gone, after one freedom bound.
This is the story of one bobcat Thor,
Rescued and rehabbed, to him it was war.
With every hiss he shot hate in his darts,
But all we received was his love in our hearts.
© Rachael Weiss 2016