Family Steals Wild Bobcat Kittens To Keep Them As Pets
This happens more often than you'd think 😱
Two scared baby bobcats are now without their mother — thanks to a San Antonio, Texas, family who took the animals home to be pets after supposedly finding them in a shed on their property.
Originally, a member of the family contacted San Antonio Animal Care Services over the weekend claiming she found the animals in an alleyway and mistook them for stray kittens. The story then changed to finding them in the shed, and mistaking them for Bengal cats.
The bobcats were with the family for several days before being surrendered to animal control. Three people in the family were bitten and scratched by the cats when they tried to feed them.
The bobcats, a boy and a girl, are now in the care of Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation, which unfortunately sees cases just like this one far too often. Although calling animal control was the right thing to do in the end, lying about when and where the kittens were found highly reduces the chance of reuniting the babies with their mom again.
“Over the years, we’ve seen this tragedy unfold many times,” Lynn Cuny, founder and president of the rescue, told The Dodo. “They [the kittens] must be very confused right now — and the complexity of the situation is one that most fail to realize. Their future has now been altered profoundly now that they’re separated from their mom.”
No one knows for sure where the kittens' mother is — or whether the babies were ever inside a shed at all.
"All we know is what these people tell us," Cuny said. "Wild mother bobcats are very protective of their young, and they stay very close to their babies unless they are out hunting. We have to believe that, at some point, they were stolen. The only luck these cats have are that they were not declawed or defanged."
Since bobcat kittens often stay at their mother’s side for the first 10 to 13 months of life, Cuny and her team now have the unique challenge of balancing the cubs' independence as wild animals with their need for regular feedings and care as youngsters.
“We simply cannot replicate that relationship that they should be having with their mother,” Cuny said. “They learn mostly everything from their moms at this age, especially the notion to stay away from humans. The good thing is, since their eyes are already open, hand-rearing is less likely to habituate them to us. But it’s still a true battle — you need to have as little interaction as possible.”
Since the kittens are only around 3 weeks old, they will remain in the care of the rescue indefinitely. Once they’re older and the team can assess their instinctual skills, then they will most likely be released back to a rural area.
Luckily, the kittens weren’t suffering from any health problems, and still have each other to lean on for comfort. And although their little lives have been changed forever, they are in the best possible hands, and are with people who can give them a chance at life in the wild.
“Even if your heart is in the right place and you see a cute animal who you think needs help, always call the professionals,” Cuny said. “We saved 10,000 lives last year of animals who never wanted to be bothered by a human being. And there are thousands of other precious lives out there who need to stay wild, just like these two.”