It was an exciting but ultimately hard day at Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre as staff cared for their first ever orphaned bobcat, which unfortunately ended up succumbing to its injuries.
Sandy Pines says they received the orphaned female bobcat on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, after a resident of Odessa discovered the abandoned animal on her front lawn.
While bobcats are more common in this area than most residents probably think, Sandy Pines says sightings of them are rare; even more rare is to find such a young kitten alone. In fact, the resident initially took the kitten to Millcreek Veterinary Clinic in Odessa on the assumption that it was just a domestic kitten, not a wild animal. But when staff at the clinic noticed the size of the kitten’s paws, the distinct black tufts on the ears, and of course the cute bobbed tail, they knew they needed to make a call to Sandy Pines.
Sandy Pines has only ever cared for a handful of older or adult bobcats, the organization told Kingstonist in an interview, which meant they needed to reach out to learn more about how to care for the dehydrated and emaciated kitten, and to do so quickly, as they were warned that kittens arriving in this condition don’t usually survive.
That did not sway volunteers at Sandy Pines, who were tenacious in their efforts and consulted with a number of wildlife centres including Hope for Wildlife in Nova Scotia. They eventually connected with experts in Minnesota at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota (WRC). Under that organization’s direction, Sandy Pines staff began following a strict re-feeding schedule to try and get the kitten to eat and drink on its own without medical intervention. Staff worried that the young animal was so frail and had already been exposed to so much stress from human interaction that surgery or even just installing an IV might be too much for it.
Volunteers say the kitten initially ate and seemed to be doing better, but took a turn for the worse on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022, when it was unable to fight any longer and died.
Bobcats, also known as red lynx, are common throughout Canada and the U.S. and like to live and hunt in wooded areas where the city meets the forest and swampland environments. Their primary diet includes small rodents like rats and mice and bigger game like rabbits, chickens, birds, or even small deer. Sandy Pines says bobcats typically do not go after domestic pets like outdoor cats unless they are desperate, as cats and dogs put up much more of a fight and could seriously injure or kill the bobcat.
While no pets were harmed in this story, Sandy Pines staff want to remind everyone of the habitat we share with local wild animals; they suggest that residents keep pets indoors if possible (no outdoor cats) or at least keep a close eye on them while they’re outside, especially in more wooded areas.
While there wasn’t the happy ending we were all hoping for this time around, Sandy Pines continues to be a beacon of hope for injured and abandoned wildlife in the Kingston region. However, they can’t continue to do all of this amazing work without the generous support of the community. The wildlife centre is always appreciative and accepting of donations to help them continue their work. Donations can be made via e-transfer at sandypi[email protected] or use the donation form on their website here: sandypineswildlife.org.