In the Wild BOBCAT OR HOUSECAT?
A large Maine Coon cat named Spock made the news recently because so many peo-
ple who saw him in the window of his San Jose, California, home mistook him for a
bobcat (Lynx rufus), a wild species native to North America and found in all
types of habitats.
It’s not unusual to see bobcats in urban areas, as they are highly adaptable. They can be seen prowling highly developed areas, such as the
Hollywood Hills and Griffith Park in Los Angeles, and they also inhabit
woodlands, swamps, and semi-desert areas. For shelter, they are fond of
rock cliffs, ledges, brush or log piles, and hollow trees.
It’s easy to see how people might mistake a large Maine Coon like
Spock for a wild cat. The 27-pound Spock, who measures 4 feet from nose
tip to tail tip, is actually a bit larger than some bobcats — their weight
typically ranges from 15 to 40 pounds depending on their sex (females are
smaller) and the area in which they’re found.
The bobcat’s appearance includes, of course, that eponymous bobtail.
It’s distinctive for being tipped with black only on the top side. The species name “rufus” refers to the bobcat’s color, which ranges from beige to
brown with dark-brown or black spots or lined markings. Bobcats have
pointed, black-tipped ears with tufts of black fur, ruffs on the side of the
face that resemble sideburns, and distinctive black bars on their front legs.
Bobcats are not considered threatened, and the IUCN lists them as a
species of least concern. They can be legally trapped for their fur, however,
and increased demand from China worries conservationists, who fear the
cats could become overhunted.
BY KIM CAMPBELL THORNTON
TOSS OUT THE BARF BAGS
It’s no secret that most cats don’t enjoy
cars. Many get carsick, which leads to
drooling and vomiting — not to mention the accompanying yowl fest. You
would complain, too! Well, one veterinarian seems to have stumbled upon
a simple, drug-free, stress-free way to
curb your kitty’s car sickness for good: an
Tom Morganti, D.V.M., of Avon,
Connecticut, had a feline patient who
always got carsick on the way to and from
the clinic. One day, the cat needed surgery and had to
wear an Elizabethan collar — you know, the cone of
shame. His owners were surprised when their cat didn’t
throw up on the way home, nor did he barf when they
came back to get his stitches removed. They told Dr.
Morganti, who began advising the owners of some of
his other feline patients to try an E-collar in the car. So
far it’s worked for more than a dozen cats. Amazing!
Not everyone knows that animals
can suffer from compulsive behaviors similar to obsessive-compulsive
disorder in humans.
In cats, this often manifests as
something called “wool-sucking,”
an oral compulsion that causes
cats to obsessively chew, suck,
or swallow nonfood items like
wool or plastic. The disorder
is commonly seen in Oriental
breeds, including the Siamese
Researchers recently stud-
ied this phenomenon and
published the results in the
November/December 2015 issue of the Journal
of Veterinary Behavior. Much about this disease
remains a mystery; however, the scientists found
some increased risk factors in Birman cats, including
early weaning and small litter size. Siamese cats who
had a medical condition also had an increased risk
of wool-sucking. All cats in the study who exhibited
the wool-sucking behavior also had unusually intense
BY JACKIE BROWN, FREELANCE WRITER
SPECIALIZING IN THE PET INDUSTRY