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HomeLatest newsInnovationThis bobcat has nine lives: A surgically repaired big cat returns to the wild in Oregon

This bobcat has nine lives: A surgically repaired big cat returns to the wild in Oregon

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When a bobcat was discovered by a motorist in January by the side of the highway after being hit by a car, her prognosis was grim. She was dehydrated, skinny and suffering from a leg fracture that had left her femur shattered into pieces.

Last week, less than six months after her ordeal began, she was released back into the Oregon wilderness—and it was all thanks to some big-hearted veterinarians and a donation from DePuy Synthes.

Repairing a natural born runner

The bobcat was taken to Oregon State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, where she was examined by Dr. Jennifer Warnock, Associate Professor of Small Animal Surgery.

“This was no house cat,” recalls Dr. Warnock. “Bobcats have to run many square miles every day, and hunt for a living. She is the ultimate athlete in the most unforgivable environment, so that femur had to be 150%.”

After determining the bobcat was a candidate for surgery, Warnock and her team used a DePuy Synthes plate and screws for the complex surgery to repair the big cat’s leg. The medical devices were provided through a donation to Oregon State by the DePuy Synthes Vet team.

Bobcat Xray

The bobcat recovers at the Chintimini Wildlife Center

“For us to be able to play a small role in the recovery of an animal that otherwise wouldn’t get the treatment is tremendous,” says Maria Cunningham, Business Unit Director for DePuy Synthes Vet.

With the surgery a success, the bobcat was transferred to the Chintimini Wildlife Center in Corvallis for her long-term recovery, which included resting in an outdoor cage, hunting prey and getting exercise.
And that recovery was rapid: The bobcat’s bone healed faster than the time it took for her fur to grow back, Warnock says, adding that she had regained full function in her leg.

Back into the wild

Based on the severity of the bobcat’s injury, she normally would have spent the rest of her life in captivity. But thanks to her stellar recovery, good health, and the fact that she was old enough to know to be wary of humans, the staff at Chintimini determined she was ready to return to the wild.

“There are no disabilities holding her back,” Dr. Warnock says. “She was hit by a car—that was a human problem. But humans put her back together again. There is no greater reward.”

Watch this video of the bobcat’s big day release back into nature:


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