21-year-old Tiger Lilly, a female bobcat, was rescued from a fur farm in Minnesota where she was destined to be harvested for her beautifully spotted belly fur. Tiger Lilly was rescued with 22 other bobcats and lynx in 1995. Today she is the last surviving member of that group.
The ruthless fur trade claims the lives of more than 60,000 wild bobcats and countless commercially bred bobcats in the U.S. annually making it the most heavily traded wild cat species in the world. One high quality bobcat pelt can sell for $1,400, and a full bobcat coat (made from as many as 70 pelts) can cost as much as $150,000. While furs have largely fallen out of fashion here in the U.S., China, Russia, and Europe still consider furs a symbol of wealth and luxury making these countries the the biggest importers of bobcat furs.
Tiger Lilly was only 2 months old when she arrived at Big Cat Rescue. She has been healthy her entire life and as a result has not needed a veterinary exam in more than two decades. She has never been sick, had a parasite infestation (from eating frogs and lizards), been injured or had any dental issues. This was simply astounding!
Feeding time is the best time to observe the cats. Keepers are trained to observe the cats as they approach the feeding area and take note of any limping or abnormal behavior. They also evaluate the condition of the body and coat as well as observe the cat’s reaction to food (appetence and chewing).
One morning, in August of 2016, while Tiger Lilly was eating breakfast her keepers noticed her mouth seemed to bother her when she bit into food with bones. They recorded their observations on Tiger Lilly’s record and the veterinary team was notified.
Because Tiger Lilly had never been examined she got the works; full exam, x-rays, and full blood work analysis. Tiger Lilly’s exam was rather routine. Her blood work showed signs of kidney disease. She had decreased muscle tone and her eyes were aged with cataracts. Dental x-rays showed that Tiger Lilly had three bad teeth which were extracted by Dr. Boorstein.
After a short recovery in the Cat Hospital Tiger Lilly was moved to a new enclosure near bobcats; Banshee, Mr. Howell, and Lovey . She really seems to be enjoying this new space, especially the mountain den. She spends a lot of time lounging atop the den buried in the high grasses. Since her dental surgery Tiger Lilly has made a full recovery and is back to eating all of her favorite foods.
It is possible that she and Divinity were litter mates – with their silvery fur they look almost identical. Where they differ is in their personalities. Divinity is fearless, whereas Tiger Lilly is elusive and shy. Through operant conditioning, slowly Tiger Lilly is becoming a more outgoing bobcat.
Tiger Lilly Bobcat When She Was a Kitten
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Most of our bobcats were rescues from fur farms. The deal Our Co-Founder made with the three fur farms we discovered in the U.S. was that he would pay top dollar for every cat and kitten they had as long as the fur farmer would agree to never buy and breed cats again for slaughter. It came at a time that the public outcry was against the fur industry. Many of these animals were purchased at auctions where the uncaring owners were dumping the cats with no concern about their welfare. There is much controversy over whether we did the right thing by paying the ransom for these cats. We still accept many unwanted cats each year, but do not pay for them and typically require that their owner surrender their license, in an attempt to keep people from just trading in their cats each year for a newer, cuter model. We have to turn away more than 100 cats each year due to a lack of space and funds and the lack of regulation of the exotic pet trade. Read more about our Evolution of Thought HERE