Theo is no longer our latest baby, but I finally wanted to introduce him as a member of the crosstimbers family! Theo came to us in extremely bad condition. He was so critical that we didn’t even want to announce his arrival at the crosstimbers gates until we were sure he had a decent chance of survival.
Theo was so emaciated, dehydrated, and sick that we feared he would not even make it through the night. On a scale of 1 to 10, one being dead, Theo was a 1. His chance of survival through the night was less than 10%, and we held little hope that he would pull through.
This was an incredible case as far as the circumstances in which Theo came to us. We received a call from the wildlife department that someone had two baby bobcats, and needed assistance with their rehabilitation. As we are the leading authority on bobcat rehabilitation nation wide, they refered us to the people who had the kittens.
We called to find out more information on the situation, and learned that these two kittens had been found in an abandoned car on someone’s private property. He had removed them from the car, and that is where the details become fuzzy. I do not know if the kittens were sick at this time, or if they became sick while being cared for by the people who found them. I also do not know if this is the time in which the poor kittens were separated from one another. I quickly learned that one kitten was very sick, and had been taken to the vet. At this time, I was told that the sick kitten was in the possession of another individual who had paid for the kitten, and that the other kitten was fine. Bobcats are extremely social. Separation is unimaginably stressful for kits.
So, given the name of the gentleman who was in possession of the sick kitten, and in a slight panic due to the obvious lack of experience with this very sensitive animal, I called and asked for more information on the situation. At this point, I am really beginning to worry. The stress of being orphaned alone is often enough to cause a kit to come down with any number of diseases. Coupled with being overly handled, under hydrated, and provided a nutritionally barren diet, and then to top it all off, to be separated from their only siblings spells certain death for these tiny two-week old kits.
I learn that the gentleman in possession of the second kit purchased it from the first gentleman for quite a high price, already sick. At two weeks old, even a healthy kit has very little chance of surviving any length of time without the most careful, knowledgeable attentiveness. Now I realize that this is not a case of an individual wishing to attempt rehabilitation and release of a bobcat, but that of someone who wishes for us to teach them how to raise this animal as a pet.
There is a reason that we do not condone keeping wild caught bobcats as pets. They are a very difficult animal to raise. In general, the same people who wanted to try their hand (at the expense of the animal) at rehabilitating or raising a bobcat on impulse relenquish the animal to our care by six to eight months of age (if they are fortunate enough for the cat to make it to that age).
After some talking, we convinced the gentleman who had him to allow us to come and get him. unfortunately, that also included paying him the money he already had invested in the cat. For a sick kit on death’s door, we paid $600.00 just to have the chance to save his life. We are a non-profit relying solely on donations. In this lean economic time, everyone, including us, is tightening their belts. We knew Theo’s best chance for survival was with us, and no one else. We paid that dear price because we knew if he was going to make it, it would be here. This was money we did not have. That $600.00 was pieced together by individual monies in the organization, and monies that we simply could not afford to spend.
He was so severely starved and dehydrated that we weren’t even sure he would make it through the night. He had a very bad case of pneumonia, and no body mass to speak of. At two weeks of age, his eyes should have still been closed. He was so dehydrated that his body just didn’t possess enough fluid to keep his sensitive eyes shut. His gaunt, sunk in expression was a sight to behold. We did not for an instant question the wisdom of putting down that purchase price for his life.
He, like Nadia, received round the clock care. The gentleman who had been caring for him provided us with the paperwork from the vet. It showed that the kit had been identified as female, and that they were calling him “Purdy”. It also showed that the kit had been prescribed antibiotics that have proven virtually ineffective for bobcats, and a treatment plan that would have resulted in a dead bobkitten by morning. Their wait and see approach didn’t even begin to resemble a treatment plan aggressive enough to save this baby.
The problem with domestic animal vets is that in general, they have absolutely no experience with the critical cases that NBRR sees all too frequently. Coupled with an animal that does not respond to medications in the same way as the next most familiar animal that domestic vets work with (the domestic cat), it’s a recipe for disaster.
The amount of fluid in his lungs made breathing for Theo impossible. To combat this, crosstimbers wildlife has discovered that being held in an upright position allows bobkits with pneumonia to breath easy while recovering. This means that for the length of their treatment, they need to be held upright. how do we achieve this? Bobcat burito!
In all honesty, the first 72 hours, he was held upright through the night. He was not well enough to be left on his own for any length of time. Theo is doing much better now. We are still fighting for his life, but Theo is a fighter too. He needs every bit of help we can give him, and is currently on an impressive cocktail of vitamins and medicines to support his system while we try to get him healthy. What ever became of Theo’s sibling? The first gentleman I talked to later told me that he had initially lied for reasons he could not explain, and that the kit had already passed away. If we did not get our hands on Theo when we did, he would have suffered the same long, painful, stressful death.
Though little Theo has been in care since the beginning of the month, he still requires constant attention. We had another scare tonight. Theo’s little body had been ravaged by lack of nutritional resorces for a very long time before he arrived at crosstimbers. He is still recovering from it. He is growing rapidly, and his body is racing to keep up. Tonight he experienced a bout of hypoglycemia. This means his blood sugar dropped dramatically. He was rushed to the ranch. Our intern has taken on the enormous responsibility of his care, and she has been his constant guardian since she drove hours to pick him up, and pay the money for his life.
He is feeling much better as of 3:30 a.m., and our director is watching over him through the night. For now he is again stable, but is being monitored every thirty minutes to ensure he does not turn for the worse again. Keep him in your thoughts, and send good vibrations his way!