Meet Owen the Bobcat
Animal Stories from All-Creatures.org

FROM PAWS Performing Animal Welfare Society
July 2020

Owen's former 'owner' lost a court battle so we are delighted to announce that PAWS is now officially Owen's permanent home.

Owen Bobcat

For the last five years, Owen the bobcat has been living at PAWS' sanctuary in Galt, California, in what can only be described as a "witness protection program" of sorts.

Born into the exotic pet trade in 2002, Owen was purchased as a kitten to be a family pet. In 2015 he was confiscated by authorities after they discovered him living in a small, dirty cage in a private home, in a state where keeping bobcats as pets is strictly forbidden by law. Authorities contacted us to ask if PAWS would provide an emergency placement for the then 13-year-old wild cat. We were told at the time that because of an ongoing investigation involving his "owners", Owen's placement with us might be temporary. We were also asked to keep his presence at our sanctuary confidential until the case was resolved. We agreed to these stipulations and welcomed Owen to our Galt sanctuary. We are delighted to announce that PAWS is now officially Owen's permanent home!

Owen Bobcat
Owen, playing...

When Owen arrived in Galt we provided him with an enclosure filled with grass and trees, a healthy diet, and expert daily care from a loving staff that made him feel comfortable and safe. At first Owen would growl and aggressively strike out at his caregivers. Experience has taught us how important it is to let animals settle into their new homes at their own pace. Owen soon relaxed and became more comfortable in his sanctuary habitat.

From the time of his arrival we noticed how slowly Owen moved. His joints seemed stiff and painful. PAWS' veterinarian, Dr. Jackie Gai, performed a physical examination under anesthesia to assess Owen's health and to find out why his mobility was so poor. She discovered that all four of his feet had been declawed, and radiographs showed significant arthritis in almost every joint in his body, far worse than she has seen in many small cats who were older than Owen. The exam also revealed kidney and gastrointestinal disease.

Owen Bobcat
Owen snoozing...

Wild cats born into the pet industry are often inbred, and malnutrition is common. It is likely that poor genetics and inadequate nutrition while he was a growing kitten played a role in the development of Owen's arthritis. Fortunately, PAWS' veterinary staff, led by Dr. Gai, specialize in caring for elderly animals and those with chronic disease. Owen immediately began receiving medications and supplements targeted at pain relief, joint support, and digestive and kidney health. Soon he was more active, playful, and his pain and fear-based aggression began to fade.

Last month Owen was moved from our Galt sanctuary into a beautiful habitat on a hillside at ARK 2000. For seven years it was home to PAWS' black leopard, Alexander, who died in April from kidney disease at age 22. The naturalistic enclosure was a gift from the late Audrey Steele Burnand and her family, including daughter Alyson Rossi and granddaughter Kristin Stewart. It is large, lush and filled with shady oak and pine trees, grassy areas for sunbathing, logs to climb on, and specially designed ramps, elevated platforms, and perches from which Owen can gaze out at the world.

Owen Bobcat

He is active and thriving in his new home his arthritis has not kept him from enjoying climbs in his new habitat! We have watched Owen as he chases pinecones, splashes in water, and playfully pounces on rocks, leaves and his toys. At nap time he loves to curl up in his wooden bed or in one of his nesting tubs that have all been filled with thick layers of soft hay. He expresses his mood by twitching his tail, and often the tips of his ears. Sometimes, a flicking tail and his intense gaze are all you can see peeking out over the rim of one of his favorite nest tubs.

Bobcats are wild, not domesticated, animals, and they do not make good pets. Even those born in captivity retain their wild instincts and temperament and can be very dangerous to keep in a private home. Wild animals kept as pets often do not receive appropriate nutrition or necessary veterinary care, and as a result their welfare is compromised. Without the opportunity to express normal, wild behaviors for which they are genetically programmed, they can suffer mentally and develop self-destructive and other maladaptive behaviors. We are thankful that most states now prohibit the private ownership of bobcats.

We are honored to provide Owen with a forever home in a natural setting where he can explore, climb, play, curl up for a nap, and express many of his wild behaviors. It is rewarding for us to play a role in an animal's healing process. Your generous support that makes it all possible. Thank you!


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