The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) treated and released a sub-adult, female bobcat on Thursday, May 14 after it was hit by a vehicle on Buckingham Road in Fort Myers.
The cat was hit in the evening on May 7 as it was crossing the roadway. Tammy Streets was driving behind the vehicle that hit her and acted quickly by calling her high school friend, Cat Turner, a former senior staff rehabilitator & sea turtle tech at CROW. Cat and her husband, Kent Turner, rushed to the scene.
“When Tammy called us, she said she had just seen a bobcat get hit by a car and disappear into the brush,” recalled Cat. “After about 30 minutes of searching, we gave up and headed for the car. That's when Kent glanced over and saw her in the ditch unresponsive with shallow breathing.”
With her knowledge of working with injured wildlife in the past, Cat approached the bobcat slowly with a towel and was able to carefully place it into a cat carrier. Once secure inside the carrier, the bobcat was rushed to Blue Pearl Pet Hospital in Fort Myers, a 24-hour drop-off location for CROW. It was later picked up by a CROW staff member and taken to the wildlife hospital on Sanibel.
“We were very unsure of her chances of survival, but we knew her best chance was to get her to CROW as soon as possible,” said Kent. “When we heard that she survived long enough to make it there we knew she had a fighting chance.”
The bobcat arrived at CROW quiet, but alert. Veterinarians suspected she had suffered head trauma from the accident based on how she was acting. She was sedated so that a full exam could be performed including radiographs and an ultrasound to evaluate for internal injuries.
“She showed aversive behavior like avoiding eye contact, but she was not alert or strong enough to show normal wild cat behaviors like hiding or aggression,” said Dr. Megan Cabot, a veterinary intern at CROW. Radiographs did not reveal any broken bones, but the ultrasound showed signs of trauma to the lungs. “No external trauma was appreciated which highlights how important further diagnostics like ultrasound can be in an emergent situation.”
An intravenous catheter was placed in the leg so that fluid therapy and medications could be provided. By the next morning, she was much brighter and more alert. She was kept in the intensive care unit for a couple days to monitor her recovery.
“Bruising in the lungs often gets worse in the first 24-48 hours, then resolves over time,” stated Dr. Cabot. “There is no direct treatment and she is likely still healing, but luckily was strong enough to overcome the initial damage.”
The feline then moved to an outdoor rehabilitation enclosure where she continued to be monitored closely using cameras to reduce human interaction.
“She showed all normal behaviors and became increasingly stressed being confined in the enclosure,” according to Dr. Cabot. “Because she appeared fully recovered, when the risk from her stress became greater than the benefit of further monitoring, we cleared her for release.”
On Thursday, May 14, the female bobcat was returned to the area she was rescued one week earlier. A suitable habitat that was away from the main roadway, thickly wooded and near a stream was selected for her release.
“She was hesitant to come out at first as she could hear and smell us in the area,” Dr. Cabot said of the cat’s release. “But after a short period of inspecting her surroundings, she shot off into the woods.”
“We are both very happy to be a part of this beautiful cat's rescue and release,” said Cat and Kent. "With everything going on in the world right now, it's very easy to forget the most vulnerable and innocent among us - the animals. Please consider donating whatever you can to help this fine organization continue helping wildlife.”
As a 501(c)(3) non-profit, CROW relies on grants, generous donations from the public and funds raised through its Visitor Education Center to provide the best care to its wildlife patients. With the ongoing pandemic, CROW’s Visitor Education Center has been forced to close to the public, although its wildlife hospital remains open every day to receive and treat injured and orphaned wildlife of Southwest Florida. Donations help provide medical treatment, food and care for the thousands of animals admitted to the wildlife hospital each year. You can make a donation online by clicking here or visiting CROW’s Facebook page!