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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Bobcat burned in El Dorado Fire turns corner toward recovery in Ramona

After nearly a month of intensive treatment by Project Wildlife's medical team, the 6- to 8-month-old bobcat is healing well, according to veterinarians.
Credit: San Diego Humane Society’s Ramona Wildlife Center

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — A bobcat that arrived at the San Diego Humane Society's Ramona Wildlife Center with severe burns from the El Dorado Fire in Yucaipa has a good chance of making a full recovery, the organization announced Monday.

After nearly a month of intensive treatment by Project Wildlife's medical team, the 6- to 8-month-old bobcat is healing well, according to veterinarians at the Wildlife Center, who have been caring for the cat since Oct. 13.

The warden said a citizen from Yucaipa was out with her dogs when the canines spotted the injured bobcat. The feline was initially taken to a veterinary clinic in Grand Terrace, but was scared and growling, and veterinary staff hesitated to open the carrier and instead contacted California Fish and Wildlife, which contacted the Wildlife Center.

Once at the center, staff noticed the cat's ears and whiskers were singed, consistent with fire exposure. The animal's weakened, emaciated state is likely the reason the dogs spotted her in the first place.

"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 the 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 (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," Barton said.

Project Wildlife's medical team went to work debriding and dressing all of her burns, some of which were infected and quite severe. Treatment has included multiple bandage changes, strong antibiotics to fight the infection and pain medication to keep her comfortable.

The team hopes to return the bobcat to the wild next month. Project Wildlife will work with California Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists to determine a suitable release site outside of the burn area to ensure there are food and water sources for her to thrive in the future.