African servals, exotic cats as pets

Bobcats
'Til Death Do Us Part, By Donna Verba
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Do you really have what it takes to be owned by a bobcat? Once they enter your life they will depend on you for everything they need to stay alive and healthy. Once they have bonded with you and your family, like a child you cannot just give them away.

Proper nutrition plays a major role in the all around health of your bobcat. They are not like domestics, their nutritional needs are different.

If you decide to go forth and venture into the world of exotic felines, make sure you have a veterinarian close who has knowledge of exotics.

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So you want to be owned by a bobcat, I myself have been owned by four. All are different, each personality varies, some gentle some more aggressive. Are you really ready for what lies ahead? This is a life changing experience for you and all members of your family. Can you sacrifice the next 20 years of your life for the sake and well being of this animal? Do you really have what it takes to be owned by a bobcat? Once they enter your life they will depend on you for everything they need to stay alive and healthy. Once they have bonded with you and your family, like a child you cannot just give them away. They do not take to change well, and if you cannot care for them until they pass, then please do not get one.

Get the facts before the cat

There are so many things to learn before one of these magnificent creatures come into your life. First you must know, if it is legal in your state to own one. State and county regulations are posted on the FCF (Feline Conservation Federation) website, at www.felineconservation.org or www.lioc.org under the legislation hyperlink. I live in Arkansas, and here it is not illegal to own a wild born native bobcat. I have had 3 born in the wild bobcats, and one mother raised. The mother raised was around 10 weeks old when we found her abandoned in our driveway. Some of the things you will need to know, how do they behave, what do they eat, common illnesses, building a cage, reinforcing your home, safe windows and safe entrance doors to your home. A cage should be a pleasurable environment for the cat, with platforms, ramps, and toys not a prison. All these things and more must be considered before you get a bobcat kitten. For there is far more to them than just being sweet adorable little kittens.

Are you ready to have you home marked as their territory, and to buy a lot of odor killer? Your home becomes their territory and play ground, remove anything sacred to you and put it away for 20 years, or until you decide this sweet little thing needs to be in her enclosure, and come in the house for brief supervised visits. But once you become really attached to them you no longer care what they destroy, kind of like your human kids, because you love them. The difference here is, you can put the cat in a cage, authorities get upset if you lock your children in a cage, although there have been times I have been tempted.

My 2 bobcats have full run of the house. What used to be the main entrance to my home is now, the main entrance to the cage. The door to the house remains open at all times, they are free to come and go at will. The cage is roughly 26 X 24 feet in size, we have added another section to this. There is a 6 foot gated walkway between the 2 cages and the add-on is roughly 14 X 24 feet. When it is done the 2 cages will be connected and a walkway overhead will be the pathway for the cats between cages. Cages can be constructed with out a lot of major expense.

My bobs do as they want, I am one of the lucky ones though. Neither of my cats has ever sprayed anything in the house, and they don't spray or destroy the plants in the cage. They sleep with me when they want and even at night the door to the cage is open to the house, giving them full run of the house when I am sleeping. The worst that has happened, is I have been woke up from a sound sleep, getting my face washed by a bobcat, and their tongue is like sandpaper, their version of a face peel. Slobbering in your ear and purring so loud you can't sleep. Oh Yeah, then there is play time at 5am, and you and your bed are the playground.

I feel lucky though, nothing has been broken in my home from their play, they stay off the furniture, and cabinets. My female does go on top of the refrigerator, and they do sleep on my bed. The female has one obsession, she feels the brass butterflies I have hanging on my walls should be set free, and she is the one to free them. This obsession has resulted in the removal of the butterflies by the bobcats and me. When they play they play hard. The sound of rolling thunder is what to expect in your home, not the pitter-patter of tiny paws. I feel having the cage attached directly to the house, has made a difference in how they behave indoors. Most of the hard play has been on the ramps and platforms in the cage, very little goes on in the house, other than they chase each other from room to room.

Water, water, everywhere

My female loves water, my male on the other hand likes water, but in the form of rain. They both love playing on the ramps in the rain, and running through the puddles in the cage. Beware though, as I said they like water, remember your bathroom toilet contains water, need I say more? You will learn to keep the lid closed, or keep a mop handy. At times I have left a few inches of water in the bath tub, she enjoys it very much, but it does get a bit messy. Doing dishes can be a challenge when she is in the house, it's a battle over who gets the running water, you or her. She won't hesitate to get right in there and bat the water everywhere. The help you get when mopping floors is also much appreciated, she has learned though, that floors are slippery when wet. Never run across a wet floor.

The bobs have bonded and adjusted well to my husband and I, but when a stranger comes around they get very nervous. I can tell by the way they run the ramp in their cage if someone has pulled into my yard. They head for their loft and stay down trying to remain motionless, as not to be seen by this threat to them. Something strange has invaded their territory, and they become uneasy until this stranger leaves. This is fear on their part not aggression, their defense is to run, hide, and remain motionless, as not to be seen. Once the threat has gone they come back down and check out every inch of the house, sniffing and looking for what was there.

Their behavior is easy for me to understand, for they have not been exposed to a lot of people and activity, the female being wild born still has very strong wild instinct. My male on the other hand, is a rescue, severely mistreated for the early part of his life. It has taken me over 2 years to win his trust, he will take food from my hand, but I still cannot really pet him. He was rescued from someone who thought owning a bobcat would be COOL, they got rid of him, they are fine, only the animal suffered. But since he arrived here he has come a long way, he is doing great now considering what had been done to him.

"You are what you eat"

Proper nutrition plays a major role in the all around health of your bobcat. They are not like domestics, their nutritional needs are different. My bobcats are feed whole chickens, feathers and all, chicken leg quarters, or chicken necks, chicken gizzards and hearts. They also eat beef, fresh road kill of squirrel or rabbit and I occasionally mix in a hard boiled egg. They also receive a daily supplement of vitamins and minerals, made especially for exotic felines. During the hot summer months, the cats eat less, but will make up for it once the weather starts to cool down and they start putting on the winter coats and fat.

"A Good Veterinarian is a must"

If you decide to go forth and venture into the world of exotic felines, make sure you have a veterinarian close who has knowledge of exotics. This is important, for the wrong dose, or medicine can be lethal to exotics. Some have died during a simple declaw because the sedative was the wrong kind or dose. A simple illness can turn fatal, if given the wrong medications. Please, do not have their canines removed, and if at all possible let them have their claws. If you must have them declawed, then only have the front claws removed. Do not leave them defenseless and unable to eat. My rescue male has been butchered as a young baby, no claws, no teeth, and neutered, I have to chop up his food in small pieces so he can eat. He cannot enjoy a whole chicken, feathers and all, he can not eat it without his canines. Which is a shame because that is nature's perfect food for them, all the nutrients their bodies need are contained in that one food source.

There are no Exotic Vacations

Caring for these animals, is a 24 hour 7 day a week job, there are no vacations, no breaks. You cannot just take off for a weekend and leave them unattended. In the event the need to leave comes up, make sure you have a knowledgeable and trustworthy adult to care for them in you absence. This person should be a friend who has been around the animals and knows your routine with the feeding and general care, someone they are familiar with, not a stranger. Bobcats as they grow older will become more cautious around strangers, therefore for their peace of mind a familiar face and voice will keep them calmer while you are away.

Speaking of Regrets. . .

There are so many more things to say, but I don't want to bore you by going on and on. If you ask me do I have any regrets about having bobcats and taking in rescues, my answer would be,"yes". I regret I do not have enough cages built to take in more rescues, there are so many in need now with the lawmakers trying to ban the rights to own them. I regret I can only afford to build a few cages and feed a few of these beautiful creatures. I regret not being able to stop the ignorant and irresponsible people from buying them.

I am not sorry for trying to help these animals stay alive and live a long and healthy life. I will continue to care for, build cages as I can afford them and take in rescues. But please give serious thought to your own ability to provide and care for one of these beautiful creatures, before you bring a bobcat into your home. They are all special and deserve a good life, are you special enough to give it to them? I would regret having to take another in because serious thought was not given before the purchase. A bobcat should not be an impulse buy, it is a 20 year commitment. Your heart may be in the right place, but things can happen, will you be prepared to do what needs to be done, for the sake of the animal, if something did happen?

Phoebe is a magnificent Canadian Lynx. Her owner loved her dearly.

Her owner loved and cared for her for over 5 years, then Phoebe was in need of a home fast. I received a phone call, asking many questions, a concerned owner wanting to know about me. Within a few days, she was delivered to me by her owners, who loved her enough to drive for 3 days to bring Phoebe to a new home. A job relocation was the reason for Phoebe to be placed in a new home. Her former owner stays in contact with me through emails and phone calls, she loved Phoebe very much, and is still upset and hurt about having to give her up. Phoebe also is still upset about being moved, her whole life as she knew it has changed. So many new things to have to adjust to, change is difficult for these animals after they have bonded. Some may come around in time, others never do. She was loved, not abused, time may bring her around. But the trauma to these animals is great, so think before you buy.

They bond for life, can you?

It's time to ask yourself, am I worthy of one of these magnificent creatures? Will I be able to give them what they need? Can I provide a stable home and environment for them? Am I ready to take on this responsibility for upwards to 20 years? Can I provide them with a place in the sun, where they can run, play and roll around in the green grass, breath fresh air and be safe? Am I ready to clean up their messes when they don't use the litter box? Can I reinforce my doors and windows to prevent an escape, for their safety? If there is any doubt in your mind at this time, then wait until you feel you are truly and honestly ready. REMEMBER THEY BOND FOR LIFE, CAN YOU?????????


Many thanks to Donna Verba of Walk on the Wild Side, a non-profit sanctuary, for allowing the use of this article on ExoticCatz.com. This article is copyrighted 2005 by Donna Verba. All rights are reserved.







 

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© Jessi Clark-White, 2005
Bobcats as Pets