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Camarillo Bobcat
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On February 19th 2006, some time before noon, I received a call from warden Oggel from the Department of Fish and Game. He told me that he had just picked up a bobcat from highway 150, that had been shot with an arrow, straight through the head. I was surprised that he wanted to bring the animal in for care with such an injury and not have it euthanized. (Despite our efforts, previous cases of arrow shooting have all proven to be fatal.) Warden Oggel told me that he thought that the animal had a chance of survival and that it had been seen for approximately a week , wandering with this arrow through its head. I assumed that the arrow had gone through some fur and skin, but missed the skull , given the description of the cats  normal behavior and feistiness. Imagine my surprise when I looked inside the pet carrier to see the arrow entering the cat right between the eyes and exiting the lower right side of the cats neck, just as it had been described. This had to truly be a miracle. There is no way that I would have believed an animal with such an injury could have normal neuralgic function and could have survived a week without being able to eat or drink. When I approached her, she gave me the token growl  and hiss and then a swat with her paw. I thought to my self, wow...you are a survivor.

 I contacted Dr. Peregrine Wolf who has been most gracious with her time,  and we discussed our next move. Normal protocol for injured animals needing surgery is to stabilize before going under anesthesia so the first thing to do was to to see if she could eat or drink. Because the arrow was so long when she put her head down to drink, it would hit the ground before her mouth reached the bowl. To get around this we raised a small bowl up on a brick so that it sat closer to her mouth. She was indeed very thirsty. Not knowing if the arrow had traveled through her jaw, I was amazed to see her gulp down several chicks with no apparent problem. I wondered how this poor thing was going to sleep through the night with a limited choice of positions and what must have been the worst head ache in history,

 I met Dr. Wolf at her surgery center at 9.30 am. I was greeted by her assistant Pat Ott, who had canceled a prior engagement to come and help with the surgery. The first job was to get her under so Dr. Wolf mixed a sedation cocktail in a syringe. After tilting the carrier to expose a good spot and one little poke, our Bobcat was out out..

Gas and Sub Q

Once our bobcat was asleep, she was given a thorough exam and Sub Q fluids were administered . Taking Xrays proved to be a little challenging as the arrow was often in the way. Dr.Wolf needed  to see the exact positioning of the arrow since vital bone structures could be at risk. Pat was very creative in finding ways to position the cat so that clear pictures could be taken with out the arrow hitting the Xray. 

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Pat Ott

Before the arrow could be removed, the front portion had to be cut off. When the warden had cut a portion of  the arrow in order for the cat to fit into the pet carrier, it flattened the end, making it wider than the entry wound. The other end of the arrow had a plastic tip attached to it that was also wider than the exit wound. Pat used a dremel to evenly saw off the flattened piece and smoothed out the edges to prepare for an easy extraction.

The arrow came out with little difficulty but there was quite a bit of debris  left inside the tunnel in this cats head. Dr.Wolf removed several pieces of bone fragment and lots of tiny green  plastic fibers from the arrow that were embedded in her head. The wound  seemed to be  free from any sign of infection and there were no maggots present which are normally very quick to appear on injured wildlife.

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Looking into the hole at the right angle, you could see light from one end to the other. The most amazing thing is that the arrow missed all the vital areas including the jaw, brain, eye socket and spinal chord. This is a truly lucky cat to sustain such an injury that did not prove to be fatal.

Dr.Wolf made a small incision above the hole so that additional skin could be used to close up the wound. The back of the neck was left to close up on its own and provide an exit for any drainage. Our bobcat began to wake up after being placed back in her carrier, for the ride back to our facility. 

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After surgery

The bobcat has gained weight from the initial intake of  7.8 pounds. On May 28th, 2006, we were able to release her at an undisclosed location.

Click on the video icon to watch a short video of the bobcat release.

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Copyright © 2004 Nicky Thole/Karin Beer-Koller
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