Young bobcat burned in El Dorado fire on road to recovery

A young bobcat at the Ramona Wildlife Center.
A young bobcat is recovering at the San Diego Humane Society’s Ramona Wildlife Center after being burned in wildfires.
(Ramona Wildlife Center)

A young female bobcat that has been at the Ramona Wildlife Center for nearly a month with severe burns and infections has a good chance of making a full recovery and being released back into the wild.

Officials with the San Diego Humane Society, which operates the Ramona Wildlife Center, believe the 6- to 8-month-old bobcat was injured in the El Dorado fire, which has torched tens of thousands of acres in Riverside and San Bernardino counties since September.

The cat was spotted Oct. 13 by a woman walking her dogs in Yucaipa. She took the cat to a veterinary clinic, but it was so aggressive that the veterinarian decided to call in officials from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. They contacted the San Diego Humane Society and its Project Wildlife team, who brought the cat to the Ramona Wildlife Center.


A young bobcat at Ramona Wildlife Center.
A young bobcat is recuperating from wildfire injuries at the San Diego Humane Society’s Ramona Wildlife Center.
(Ramona Wildlife Center)

Once there, the medical team realized the cat had serious injuries, which likely caused her to be in such a weakened state that she didn’t have the strength to hide from the approaching dogs.

“Typically, encounters with dogs do not end well, but in this case, it probably saved her life,” said Christine Barton, director of operations and wildlife rehabilitation at Ramona Wildlife Center.

“You could see that she was emaciated and clearly had singed whiskers and ears, but her full exam revealed the true extent of her injuries, which included burns to all four of her paws. We collaborate with [the California Department of Fish and Wildlife] and a burn specialist with UC Davis on burn cases, and we all agreed that this little girl is a fighter and has a good chance of making a full recovery.”

Over the past four weeks, the Project Wildlife team has been debriding and dressing the cat’s burns, many of which were infected, and administering courses of strong antibiotics and pain medication. She has responded so well to the treatment that the goal is to release her back into the wild in December. Fish and Wildlife officials will find a release location that’s outside the burn area so there’s ample food and water for her to survive.

Kragen writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.