March 23, 2019 8:44 pm
Updated: March 24, 2019 1:42 am

Incidents of bobcats mauling cats in southeast Calgary prompt vet warnings

In this April 16, 2012 file photo, a small, likely juvenile, bobcat is perched on a power pole in a residential neighborhood of Victorville, Calif.

James Quigg/The Victor Valley Daily Press via AP

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A Calgary vet clinic is warning pet owners to keep their pets inside after a recent string of incidents in which bobcats have mauled house cats, resulting in serious injuries or death.

Acadia Drive Animal Clinic said pet owners should get their cats medical care quickly if they suspect they’ve had a run-in with a wild feline.

“We cannot stress the urgency enough that pets who have had physical encounters with wildlife are an emergency and need to be seen immediately, even if the injuries seem minor,” read a post on the clinic’s Facebook page this week.

“It’s always worse than it looks, and they are carriers of diseases that pose a threat to our domestic cats [feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus] as well as have an abundance of harmful bacteria in their mouths that will cause aggressive infections.”

READ MORE: Bobcat spotted in southeast Calgary

Communities like Lake Bonavista and Deer Run have seen an increase in bobcat attacks, according to residents.

Southeast Calgary resident Lars Melen said he broke up a fight on March 13 between a bobcat and his cat, Ivy, who was in the family’s fenced backyard. The cat did not survive.

“I heard a commotion and went outside and broke them up and the cat took off one way and the bobcat took off the other way,” he said.

“He looked pretty angry that I took his dinner, but he sauntered off and the cat came back after an hour and was visibly a bit roughed up but we didn’t know how bad.”

A cat was mauled by a bobcat in this Calgary backyard on March 10. The pet did not survive the encounter.

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Melen took Ivy to the Acadia Drive Animal Clinic the next day.

“She had scratches on her back and quite a few bites all over her body,” he said.

Melen said his cat’s condition got progressively worse and that veterinarians did best they could, but recommended to put her down.

There used to be a significant population of rabbits in the area, Melen said. His neighbours suspect that bobcats might be running out of that food source and are targeting small pets.

READ MORE: Captured on camera: What wildlife lives in Calgary parks?

In her six and a half years at Acadia Drive Animal Clinic, vet technician Lorah McCorriston said she has never seen bobcat bites before.

In the last week, the clinic has seen two bobcat-related cat injuries.

“[Injuries] are always a lot more severe than they look initially,” McCorriston said. “Cats, in general, are — I mean, they’re these magical little healing creatures. That’s part of why they say they have nine lives.

“The thing with cat bites is they have long, thin teeth, so they penetrate deeply and then they heal over. So they’re a very serious risk of infection. [Pets] need to be seen immediately, despite the fact that they might seem OK.”

There has been a spike in bobcat sightings in the city, mostly in forested areas, according to posts on YYC Pet Recovery Facebook page, McCorriston said.

“They are definitely territorial creatures,” McCorriston said. “There’s a possibility there’s just more of them so they have no choice but to spread out.”

WATCH (Sept. 12, 2018): Video captures bobcat roaming in southeast Calgary neighbourhood


McCorriston said ring road construction near Fish Creek might be pushing them into city.

“I mean, we’re destroying their habitats, unfortunately,” she said.

It’s also breeding season right now, so with bobcat kittens in tow, the animals might be bolder, she said.

READ MORE: 3 people bitten by bobcats thought they were helping abandoned kittens

The clinic has been in contact with Alberta Fish and Wildlife, who said relocating bobcats is not feasible because of their territorial nature and a low survival rate.

“They basically said the forested areas have been created within the city to accommodate our wildlife and we do just have to learn to live with them,” McCorriston said — whether that means keeping pets indoors, creating a cat run, or buying protective clothing that “makes them look big and scary.”

READ MORE: Baby bobcats rescued from house fire in Calgary

McCorriston also recommends keeping your pet’s vaccines up to date.

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