Florida man brings tiny ‘cheetah’ kitten to firefighters and discovers that it is a bobcat

Florida, USA: There is a moral to this story and it is made by the Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge and Education Center.

“If a citizen spots a displaced, injured, or orphaned wild bobcat, the first thing they should do is contact their local wildlife rehabilitation facility for advice to determine if the animal is in need of rescue.”

Tiny female bobcat kitten found and taken to a wildlife refuge
This isn’t a “baby cheetah” or a house cat — it’s a two-week-old bobcat, which was dropped off at an Orlando, Florida, fire station on April 25, 2019, by a man who mistook it for a cheetah, according to firefighters. Photo: ORLANDO FIRE DEPARTMENT
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

That’s because if there is what looks like an orphaned wild cat in the neighbourhood you have to make sure that the cat is genuinely orphaned and in need of human intervention. If not and if humans intervene there is the possibility that the cat will imprint on humans and that’s the end of a natural and wild life for the cat.

In this instance a Florida man found what he thought might be a cheetah kitten which he dropped off at the local fire station in Orlando because he did not know what to do with it.

The firefighters weren’t sure themselves but did some online research and thought that they had been given a tiny bobcat kitten. They checked with Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge and Education Center by sending pictures.

The manager of Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge and Education Center came over and took a look and confirmed that they had a 2-week-old female bobcat.

They took her away and will raise her with the intention of returning her to the wild. They take in about 3,000 orphaned or injured nature Florida wild animals annually but bobcats are very rare.

They will have to do all they can to avoid the bobcat from imprinting on humans. They’ll raise her with other bobcats.

Note on Bobcat Reproduction and Development with relevance to the story

The peak breeding season for the bobcat is February to April. This squares up with the story. However, breeding can occur at anytime of the year in southern populations.

“In Florida, one semi-tame female produced two litters in one year but this appears to be unusual.” – Mel and Fiona Sunquist.

Bobcats are very rarely observed in courtship and mating activities in the wild.

Females with kittens frequently change den sites because the kittens are vulnerable to being killed. When travelling between den sites the mother leads and the kittens follow single file. Kittens accompany their mother on hunts when they are 3-5 months old.

It seems that the kitten in the story might have became disconnected from her mother when moving between dens. It may be that the man made a mistake. It is conceivable that the mother was near by. Hence the quote at the beginning of the page. The wildlife sanctuary are making a point. But I am speculating.

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