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The Inner Wildcat

by Kevin Mack - PAWS Wildlife Naturalist

Arrival at PAWS Wildlife Center

On the day she was admitted to the PAWS Wildlife Center, Bobcat 09-1157 was a pint-sized ball of fury. Even at only 1.7 pounds she was a force to be reckoned with, and her ferocity provided a glimpse of the impressive feline that she would become. It appeared that her attitude had been the first part of her being to mature, and it took nearly a year in our care for her outer appearance to catch up with her inner wildcat.

After she was found wandering alone along a road just outside of Washougal, WA, Bobcat 09-1157 was brought to PAWS on June 26, 2009. She was thin, weak and suffering from diarrhea, possibly orphaned by a vehicle traveling on the road alongside which she was walking. The story of her mother will never be known, but thanks to the caring individual who rescued her from the side of the road, the orphaned kitten’s story has continued.

It took some time for the young Bobcat to adjust to her new surroundings at PAWS. At first she refused to eat, but she eventually found her appetite and steadily began to grow. PAWS wildlife rehabilitators provided the Bobcat with many creative enrichment items to engage her curiosity and encourage her to run, jump, bat and play. She was isolated from her human caregivers to ensure that she did not become comfortable with our presence, but we frequently watched her on a monitor connected to cameras over her enclosure. As winter gave way to spring, the Bobcat completed her transformation from the tiny kitten with the big attitude to a sleek sub-adult cat with claws and teeth to back up that attitude. She was ready to reclaim the wild life that was her birthright.
Picture from Wild Again
Seen here being restrained by Wildlife Rehabilitator Nicki Rosenhagen, the Bobcat kitten weighed only 1.7 pounds when she was admitted.
Picture from Wild Again
As she matured, the PAWS staff strictly limited their contact with the Bobcat. This helped her retain her wariness of humans.

Release Day

As she exited her transport carrier at the release site on June 3, Bobcat 09-1157 was an impressive sight. Now weighing about 20 pounds, she moved with grace and confidence. After quickly putting a comfortable distance between herself and the humans releasing her, she stopped to get her bearings. She remained crouched, her muscles tensed as if she were ready to spring away at the slightest indication of danger. Her nose and ears twitched constantly, and she periodically glanced back in our direction as if she expected us to pursue. Her posture suddenly changed, a visible indication that she had come to a decision. She turned and bounded away. As she disappeared from our sight into thick, brushy cover she carried with her all of our best wishes for a long, healthy life.
Picture from Wild Again
During her release, the Bobcat paused for a moment to assess her surroundings. She kept a close eye on the nearby humans to ensure she was not being followed.
Picture from Wild Again
Once she decided where she wanted to go, the Bobcat bounded off into the brush.



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