A glimps into the world of wildlife rehabilitation…the world through a rehabber's eyes.

Please think before you trap!

Today (04/24/11), WCCR got an emergency call on a very tiny baby bobcat found in the parking lot of a business. We have named her Nadia (Slavic for “Hope”). At three weeks of age, her body is shockingly tiny. Her body is the size it should have been at one week of age. Her eyes are open, and she is somewhat ambulatory. Tiny Nadia is severely emaciated. The reason I have waited so long to share this post with you is that I am trying to get the picture of her we took while we were bathing her to show you just how poor her body condition is. From a 1 to 10 scale, 1 being dead, Nadia is about a 2. 

Her gums are completely white, she is extremely dehydrated, and she was infested with fleas when we finally got her in our hands. She is running a fever, and the very worst part is that she is all alone. Bobcats are born in litters of two to six babies. They are rarely born as singles. They are social, and need their siblings and mommies to thrive. This means that Nadia probably has other siblings in the same location where she was found.

Bobcats stay with their mommies for up to a year, and sometimes even a little longer. Tiny Nadia has been without her mommy for days. We think she has been without her mother for around a week to a week and a half. Chances are, someone spied Nadia’s momma somewhere near where Nadia and her siblings had been born. Fearing her, they trapped her, leaving her brand new babies orphaned in their den. Nadia and her siblings waited for days for mommy to return. They were cold, and getting very hungry. At this age, momma’s milk is their only sustenance. Their tiny bodies cannot support the hundreds of fleas that have begun to build up on them without their mommy’s watchful care. Cold, hungry, and scared, Nadia may have wandered out of her den and tried to find her momma or the heavy rains may have washed our little survivor out of her den, and exposed her to pneumonia in the process.

This lucky little girl was found by some caring people who work there, and they immediately got on the internet and contacted the Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch. WCCR staff rushed from a vet appointment to the aid of this little one. We drove across the metroplex for this little girl. We had been told that she was covered in fleas, and we knew that meant she had been without momma for at least three days. That also meant that this little one would be very sick. It’s a good thing we dropped everything to come to her aid too. She needed IMMEDIATE attention. We bathed and dried her, picking off as many dozens of fleas as we could, and set her up in a warm place. We have given her the tiniest bit of a blood builder to help her combat the anemia from the fleas, and antibiotics to begin countering the pneumonia in her lungs. 

Her little body is so malnourished that we cannot even introduce food to her system for at least the next 24 hours. If we do, it could send her fragile body into hypoglycemic seizures, or worse. Every hour on the hour, we must administer sub-q fluids to try to normalize her hydration levels. This is why I am writing this at 2:25am. I just gave our tiny little girl another session of fluids. We are very concerned that she may not make it. She is very frail. At this point, Nadia has a 20/80 chance of surviving until tomorrow.

She has a strong will though, and she has been given a strong name. There are lots of people rooting for this little one. She is a lucky lucky girl. The next 72 hours for Nadia are critical. She will need round the clock care, and lots of support. The wonderful people who found her have said that they are putting together a fund to assist with her care. Rehabbing a bobcat is extremely difficult, and very expensive. They stay in our care for a year or even a little longer sometimes. They can rack up care costs of more than $2,000.00 and all of this could have been prevented with a little education about the role the urban bobcat plays in our cities.

the bobcat is a very adaptable animal. In our cities, bobcats have a very small home territory, a mere three-mile radius. In the city, they do not need large territories. Humans provide some very inviting habitat for these cats. Business parks often have ample green spaces with lots of trees and manicured lawns that attract bunnies, squirrels (their favorite food source!), and other small mammals. There are usually water features, and not a whole lot of human activity.

These are nonagressive, and nondestructive animals. They are great pest control, and very unassuming. If Nadia’s mommy hadn’t been trapped, she wouldn’t be left without her mother and her siblings. Now, we are all she has. Her cries for nourishment and companionship are heart wrenching. We must stay strong and withhold food for at least 24 hours. If we cave and feed her, it may just kill her. We must also find the balance between not handling her, and ensuring she feels secure and safe.

Nadia is in extremely critical condition, and will need constant intensive care. If you would like to help with Nadia’s journey to becoming wild again, donations would be greatly appreciated. The Nadia’s Angels fund will go directly to her care. For a critical case like hers, it will take many hours of intensive treatment and sleepless nights for the staff of WCCR.

This is Nadia after her bath, and some serious TLC. Her little paws are as tiny as the tips of my fingers. You can see her spine forming a sharp ridge down her back, and her head looks extremely large for her body due to her severe condition.

We visited the location where Nadia was rescued, and found a very likely location for the den where she came from. We had no luck locating any others. It is really bad news. As poorly as tiny Nadia was when we got her, without intervention, she probably would not have made it through the night. From that we can conclude that the chances of her litter mates being in any condition to make it through another night are very grim.

We left wet food at the entrance to the den in the hopes that the smell would draw out any survivors, but we hold little hope for discovering any siblings. PLEASE do not trap these guys. This whole horrible ordeal could have been something that Nadia never had to experience.

If you would like to become one of Nadia’s Guardian Angels to help guide her on her long journey back to the wild, please donate here http://www.causes.com/causes/577450-the-wildlife-center-at-crosstimbers-ranch , or you may click the donate button on the side bar of this page.


2 responses

  1. Lori

    Heartbreaking story for Nadia. This posted almost a month ago…did the little girl make it?

    May 21, 2011 at 1:52 am

    • Yes! So far, Nadia is doing beautifully. She is getting stronger and wilder every day. In just a few more days, she will be able to be with Marley, and then hopefully with Oliver, our two newest babies. Of course, babies are always vulerable, and her little system is still sensitive. She has been through quite a lot in her young life, and anything could still happen. She still needs intensive care, and constant observation. I will continue to provide updates and photos. Keep checking back!

      May 21, 2011 at 8:30 am

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