Hospital housing for each bobcat is made up of two hospital cages with a dividing door in the middle. The cages should be clipped securely together to prohibit the bobcat from pushing them apart, and the cages should be should be constructed of appropriate wire to confine the bobcat. Some hospital cages constructed of 2×4” wire are not suitable for small kittens as they can easily pass through the bars. Bobcats that require daily injections or fluids should be housed in a hospital cage connected to a squeeze cage.
Inside the Hospital Housing
Bedding consists of fleece mats, fleece beds, towels, and blankets. If the bobcat destroys these items or attempts to eat the bedding, an alternative option is hay. However, hay is not preferred because bobcats may ingest excessive amounts of hay out of boredom. This can upset the animal’s stomach, and can be lethal. Furthermore, eating bedding or hay can cause them to become constipated or blocked, so it’s important to check the animal’s bedding to ensure that they are not ingesting these materials.
A water dish should be provided in each cage, but they should not be provided in squeeze cages. Water bowls in the squeeze cage prohibit the squeeze cage being used effectively.
Metal litter pans can be offered and in some cases aid in maintaining a cleaner environment. Each bobcat is different and this may not be an appropriate option in some cases. Some bobcats will utilize the litter pan and in turn keep their bedding cleaner. Other bobcats may just dig up all the litter, flip the pans, and drag their food through the litter making their environment unsuitable.
Enrichment for hospitalized bobcats is extremely important to prevent self harm and alleviate boredom.
Kittens may be given toys such as:
- stuffed animals
- scratching posts
- chase around tracks
Toys should be changed daily to keep the kitten interested. Additionally, cardboard boxes, tubes, paper bags, scents, spices, herbs, and cicles can be given to bobcats of all ages. Be sure to check with the Bobcat Rehab Program Manager before offering any enrichment check with the program manager to ensure there is no conflict with veterinary care.
Kittens and some adult bobcats may require several meals throughout the day. To feed the bobcat, close the dividing door and place the food in the empty cage. Care should be taken to avoid the bobcat seeing the keeper place the food (ghillie suits are perfect for this). The food should be placed in ceramic, metal, or sturdy plastic dishes to keep meat juices from seeping into bedding, as this would encourage chewing of the bedding. In rare cases, a bobcat may require stick or syringe feeding until normal eating takes place. However, stick or syringe feeding should be kept to a bare minimum to prevent the bobcat from becoming habituated to humans.
Watch the video of Spirit Feather, a baby bobcat, enjoying her hospital housing.
Can you spot any of the above mentioned items in the video?
To clean the cages, the bobcat should be shifted into one cage. The dividing door should then be closed, and the cage housing the bobcat should be covered completely. Once the empty cage has been cleaned, the bobcat should be shifted into the clean cage and the process repeated. Covering the cage will also help with this process of shifting the bobcat from one cage to the other. Removing the covering from one cage and completely covering the other cage encourages the bobcat to relocate because their natural instinct is to hide.
It is extremely important that you take great care when uncovering sections or prompting bobcats to shift so as to not cause injury or jeopardize healing. Some wild bobcats will refuse to shift while there is a human presence. In these cases, the cage where the bobcat needs to go should be covered and the cage requiring cleaning (where the bobcat is) should be uncovered. The keeper should then leave the room (or sometimes the building) until the bobcat has shifted. We use video monitoring equipment to help in determining if the bobcat has shifted.
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