Lesson 2.3: Veterinary Care

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All rescued bobcats receive the same program of veterinary care as permanent residents at BCR. This includes a full examination, comprised of:

  • a physical exam to assess the health status of the bobcat (including their weight)
  • x-rays to gain a comprehensive understanding of their injuries
  • blood work to determine their overall health and see if they have any infectious diseases
  • fluid therapy
  • a fecal test to identify any potential parasites
  • vaccinations against rabies and other common cat-susceptible diseases
  • flea and dewormer treatments

Non-routine veterinary care may include:

  • fracture repair
  • tooth extraction or repair
  • soft tissue surgery
  • minor wound repair

In special needs cases, board certified ophthalmologists, neurologists, and surgeons are consulted and utilized. Ghillie suits should be worn when caring for hospitalized bobcats under 1 year of age, as well as with adult bobcats that seem to be habituated towards people.

Bobcats that are too young, ill or injured to be housed in the outdoor rehab enclosures are kept in the recovery hospital for care and observation. In addition, newly acquired bobcats should be housed indoors until they are cleared of hookworms.

Parasite Control


Almost all of the bobcats brought to BCR have a heavy overload of parasites, including fleas, ticks, and internal parasites like hookworms, roundworms, and spirometra. These parasites can be especially harmful (sometimes deadly) to young or weak bobcats. For their initial intake, bobcats will be treated with flea and tick and dewormer medications.

Fleas & Ticks


For fleas and ticks, we use Revolution for cats, which is applied topically to the skin between the shoulder blades. Saturation of the skin is extremely important in order to completely rid the bobcat of fleas and ticks.

Hookworms & Other Parasites


It’s interesting and important to note that almost all of the bobcats we have brought to BCR have tested positive for hookworms. Hookworms are tenacious parasites that require special, aggressive treatment of both the animal and the ground that comes into contact with the animal’s feces in order to eradicate the parasites. Because hookworms can be transferred through contact with infested ground, it is important that we treat the animal for these parasites before they are allowed into our enclosures to prevent the parasites from spreading throughout our sanctuary.

Upon arrival, the veterinarian will often prescribe a course of parasite control including Panacur and Marqui. The dose for Panacur is 0.25ml per pound, which is given orally once daily for three days (five days if parasites are confirmed, and then repeated in two weeks for another five days). A liquid form of this medication is housed in the recovery hospital. The dose for Marqui is 0.1ml per pound, which is given orally once daily for two days. Since hookworms are prevalent in wild bobcats and extremely difficult to eradicate once introduced to the outdoor enclosure, the bobcat should be housed indoors until a fecal sample can be collected and returns free of this parasite.

During the bobcat’s time in rehab it will be on the same schedule for de-worming as the permanent residents at the sanctuary. Ivermectin is given one day per month. Panacur is given three consecutive days quarterly.

Vaccinations


Vaccinations during the rehabilitation include FVRCP and Rabies. FVRCP is an acronym for the standard cat vaccine, also called “the feline distemper vaccine”, given to cats and kittens throughout their lives as part of a preventative health program and considered, along with the Rabies vaccine, as a Core (very important) vaccine.

FVRCP


The FVRCP vaccine is administered at the age of 6 weeks, then every 3 weeks thereafter until the age of 16 weeks. If the bobcat is older than 16 weeks the FVRCP vaccine will be administered upon intake and then boostered 3 weeks later. The FVRCP vaccine treats a number of infectious viral diseases, including the feline rhinotracheitis virus, calcivirus, and the panleukopenia virus.

FVR: Feline Rhinotracheitis Virus

Feline rhinotracheitis virus (FVR) is a viral infectious respiratory disease caused by feline herpes virus type 1. This virus is an extremely common cause of respiratory disease and often results in chronic, often life-long infection with intermittent recurrences causing respiratory disease, and sometimes eye disease as well. It is spread easily through airborne respiratory secretions; direct contact with a carrier cat or contaminated objects will spread the virus. Unvaccinated cats are the most susceptible, as well as very young and very old cats.

C: Calcivirus

Calicivirus is a common viral infectious respiratory disease. The virus can cause mouth sores resulting in severe oral pain. It is spread by direct contact with an infected cat, or by contact with contaminated objects. The virus is very resistant to disinfectants and persists in the environment. Unvaccinated and inadequately vaccinated cats of all ages are at risk.

P: Panleukopenia

This virus is a severe and highly infectious disease of the gastrointestinal tract, the immune system, and the nervous system. It is sometimes fatal. The disease is named for the characteristic severe decrease in white blood cells, the body’s defense against disease. The virus is very persistent in the environment, and spreads by direct contact with infected cats or by contact with viral particles in the environment. Unvaccinated and inadequately vaccinated cats of all ages are at risk.

Rabies


The Rabies vaccine is administered at the age of 16 weeks (or any age thereafter). If a 3 year Rabies vaccine is given, it must be boostered annually as long as the bobcat remains in rehabilitation.

Virus excretion can begin 4 days before onset of illness. The incubation period for cats typically ranges from 9 to 51 days, with most cases showing clinical disease within 14 to 21 days. The morbidity period is generally from 1 to 8 days. The “prodromal phase” of the morbidity period is 1-day duration. Low-grade fever and a pronounced change in behavior characterize this phase; the cat may also become unusually affectionate or withdrawn.

The “excitatory phase” of the morbidity period is 2 to 4 days duration. It may begin with increased accumulation of saliva, slight incoordination or muscular tremors, often accompanied by nervousness, aggressiveness, and irritability. At this time the cat may be particularly dangerous, often attempting to bite and scratch anything encountered. The “paralytic phase” of the morbidity period is 3 to 4 days duration. Difficulty in swallowing develops, causing the animal to drool saliva; convulsions may occur at this point. The cat develops ascending and generalized paralysis; coma and death soon follow.

A bobcat that bites, scratches, or otherwise potentially exposes a person to rabies should be isolated and confined for observation a total of 10 days. Observation is of value because the length of time that virus may be excreted in the saliva prior to onset of signs can be predicted. It is known that cats may excrete rabies virus only a few days prior to onset of illness. The observation period is longer to allow for a wide safety margin.

If the biting animal is alive after 10 days from the exposure, it was not shedding rabies in the saliva at the time of the bite. Conversely, if the animal exhibits signs of rabies, it should be euthanized and the head submitted for rabies testing immediately. If the sick animal cannot be immediately tested, postexposure prophylaxis should be initiated for persons who were exposed. Rabies vaccines should not be administered to the suspect rabid cat during the observation period because this would necessitate other people being exposed to the animal. In rare cases, side effects from the vaccine administration can also be confused with rabies signs and animals may be euthanized and tested unnecessarily as a result.

A bobcat should be confined and observed when they are bitten or otherwise potentially exposed to rabies by other animals. The quarantine period is 45 days for vaccinated cats and 180 days for unvaccinated cats. As rabies vaccines are used “off-label” in exotic cat species the quarantine period would be 180 days.


Click on the Mark Complete button to go to Lesson 2.4: Hospital Housing.