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Bobcat Kittens On The Mend, To Be Released Next Spring
Updated July 14, 2015 4:24 PM
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Photo of Indiana Bobcat

(BLOOMINGTON) - Two rescued bobcat kittens are thriving at the WildCare Inc. wildlife rehabilitation center in Bloomington.

It's taken hundreds of hours of special care, money and multiple visits to veterinarians to raise the bobcat kittens found on April 24. A family out mushroom hunting in Sullivan County heard a faint cry and, after tracing the sound, found a bobcat kitten that weighed just over a 1/2 pound and had its eyes closed.

The Herald Times reports that the kitten was taken to the Exotic Feline Center and then to WildCare. The kitten had a large hernia. Speculation is that the kitten was abandoned by its mother, who was protecting other kittens that she had from predators.

Amanda Wrigley, Vice President of the WildCare Inc. board and a worker at the center, says because the kitten had a hernia, every time he was fed, his intestines would expand, causing him more pain and making him cry out. When he was brought to the center, it was hoped he could gain weight to be about 2 pounds before they did surgery to repair the hernia. But the kitten was very sick, with less than a 25 percent chance of surviving. So it was decided to do surgery before he gained weight, Wrigley said. The surgery was done at the feline center, which donated its surgical center by veterinarians Fred Froderman and Jessica Snyder.

The kitten quit breathing at one point toward the end of the surgery, but roused himself.

Then, two weeks later, the kitten developed a second infection. Wrigley drove him to an emergency clinic over the Memorial Day weekend. It didn't look good, but he fought back. A surgical drain was needed and medications to fight the infection were administered.

"A huge concern for the WildCare workers was the amount of handling necessary to care for the wild kitten, Wrigley added. "Our concern was we had to handle him much more than you would with a healthy orphan. We were really concerned that if we couldn't find a foster sibling for him, he would be non-releasable."

So, WildCare officials put the word out that they were looking for a bobcat kitten.

While the first bobcat kitten was recovering from the infection, WildCare was contacted about another male bobcat kitten. The story told to WildCare officials was that the 3 1/2-week-old kitten was being transported by its mother across a road when she was hit by a car and died.

The kitten ended up in a person's home, where it was seized by a conservation officer because it was being kept without a permit.

"It was fed human food. It was very, very dehydrated and very, very emaciated," she added. "It should have been only fed its mom's milk at this point."

Wrigley explained that cow's milk, ground beef and "human" food are all indigestible to most wild animals, especially babies. Because of the food issues, the kitten developed seizures due to an imbalance of electrolytes in his body. The kitten spent his first 12 hours with WildCare at the vet's office in an oxygen chamber in an attempt to get his seizures under control. The kitten also had a very bad case of pneumonia.

For the first week and a half, the kittens were kept apart to ensure that they were both strong enough. Then, after 10 days, they were put in the same cage for a short time. Now the two are best buddies.

The two kittens are now together all the time, in a special cage that has dirt, branches from different types of trees, logs and pine cones in addition to a den.

When the kittens are healthier, they will be moved to a larger outside cage that has no roof, which WildCare workers call the pre-release predator cage. There the kittens will be fed "whole food," which means they will be eating mice and rats and other animals.

Wrigley won't say where the cages housing the bobcats are located.

WildCare is working at raising funds to build a larger cage to better house the bobcats because the pre-release predator cage is designed to contain other wildlife such as red fox, not bobcats. And while the bobcats are at the center, it cannot take different predator species and must transfer them to other centers.

WildCare officials are hoping to raise funds to build a new, larger enclosure so they can continue to take in bobcats and other predator species. The center also is asking for funds to help pay for the critical care vet visits that helped save the bobcats' lives.

Bobcat kittens stay with their mothers for a year in the wild, so WildCare will keep the two until next spring. Wrigley said during the fall and winter the kittens will need to learn all the life skills, including hunting, necessary for them to survive in the wild.

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