Bobcat Kitten Getting Toughened Up By Volunteers

A sweet and affectionate bobcat kitten is learning some lessons about the wild from volunteers trying to toughen her up. In order to be released back into her natural habitat, the cuddly kitty must first gain some fierce survival skills.

The Associated Press reports that the baby bobcat was rescued in August by firefighters in the Plumas National Forest. She was just a few weeks old and suffering with infected eyes and burned paws when she was found. Surviving the 75,000 acre fire, the friendly feline was given the name Chip by responders.

Chip was amazingly affectionate with the rescuers who found her lethargic and walking in circles during the blaze. She sweetly nuzzled the hands or boots of crew members each time they paused in their work. When they were unable to locate the animal’s mother, Chip was taken to the rescue shelter of Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care.

After being treated for her injuries, she was given a soft bed and food of the pulverized mice variety. Chip quickly headed down the path of recovery and was transferred to a wildlife center in November.

An article by The Sacramento Bee writes that volunteers at the Sierra Wildlife Rescue in Placerville, California are working with the orphaned kitten to toughen her up. Right now, she is simply too nice and friendly to survive nature on her own. The center is practicing “tough love” techniques to prepare Chip for the wild.

Jill Tripoli, a longtime volunteer wildlife trainer for the center, said the following:

“If you have a friendly bobcat in the wild, that’s not going to work.”

The bobcat’s new training regime includes being squirted with a water bottle if she attempts to be affectionate with human volunteers. She has been introduced to surly fellow rescue bobcats Tuffy and Sierra, which gives her a chance to observe their behavior. Together the cats must find their own food by chasing mice and rabbits.

The center’s techniques seem to be working and Chip is beginning to shy away from human contact. But it seems she has not entirely forgotten the human kindness she received. When humans approach her enclosure she will often peek her head out for a look.

What do you think of Chip the bobcat kitten getting toughened up by volunteers in preparation for the wild?