Advice on what to do if you find an injured or orphaned small wild cat in America

This is specifically about finding a wild cat that’s been injured. I make that clear because Google can sometimes get mixed up between feral cats and wild cats. There will be a completely different approach to meeting a feral cat that’s been injured and a wild cat that’s been injured.

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Contact the professionals: first you got to be sure that the small wild cat such as a bobcat or lynx is genuinely injured or orphaned. The best course of action is to notify a state wildlife officer. Every US state has a Game and Fish Department responsible for dealing with wildlife issues. And in America there are licensed organisations, privately run, which are able to deal with injured animals including small wild cat species. You will need their help. That’s the advice.

Handling precautions: some precautions should be taken. These are common sense issues. You should wear safety clothes if approaching a wild animal including gloves and in America if you’ve not had the rabies vaccination you shouldn’t approach the animal. That’s the advice. If you do carry the animal, you should keep it away from your face and wash your hands and arms after you’ve handled it. All common sense really. It’s about being careful both in the interests of the animal and yourself.

Chance of recovery: it’s probably fair to say that very few injured small wild cats get taken to rehabilitation centres and perhaps even fewer recover but it does happen and therefore an effort should be made. There is a reasonable chance that an injured small wild cat will recover on its own if it can be left in a peaceful protected area under professional supervision. A specialist wildlife rehabilitation professional will be able to make the determination as to whether it’ll be successful.

Endangered Species Act: in America, there are some pretty strict rules about handling Canada lynx for instance. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is a widely quoted law which protects wildlife in the United States. It became law in 1966 and has been amended at least three times. It prohibits importing, exporting and taking endangered species.

It also prohibits the carrying, delivering, possessing, selling, shipping and transporting endangered species unlawfully taken. This is interpreted strictly on my understanding. For instance, the Canada lynx is a threatened species in the contiguous United States under the ESA.

I will quote the words of James Sanderson and Patrick Watson at this stage in their book Small Wild Cats:

“Simply transporting an injured or orphaned Canada lynx can carry a $100,000 fine and a one-year jail term in a federal prison. Even mistakenly transporting an injured bobcat that turns out to be a Canada lynx could carry a severe penalty. The best thing to do is notify the state Game and Fish Department at once. The Canada lynx and you will both be better served.”

Feeling pain: you might ask yourself whether the wild cat species can feel pain as we do. We don’t know how they interpret pain but they feel pain because their anatomy is very similar to ours. It is probably safe to presume that they don’t feel pain as we do.

“Certainly, small [wild] cats can neither interpret pain the same way humans can, nor anticipate pain before it happens. Certain pain is probably more painful to a small cat than to a human.”

Small Wild Cats

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