Jill Hicks was traveling to meet friends for dinner two weeks ago when she noticed something that made her heart skip a beat: a little animal scampering along the road, poised to swerve into traffic. Her brakes were pressed.
“At first, I mistook it for a newborn rabbit because the fur was so fluffy,” Hicks, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, told The Dodo. “As I went closer, I noticed it was a little cat.” I pulled over and opened and kept my car door open to allow traffic to slow down. And I walked over to the kitty
Hicks was able to grab the kitten before she ran into oncoming traffic.
“I wrapped her up in a sweater that I had in the car with me, and held her close to me,” Hicks said. “I was thinking it was a kitten somebody had tossed out, so I thought there may be more. So I was calling for other cats, saying, ‘Kitty, kitty, kitty,’ thinking more kittens would come to me. But I never saw a mom or more babies.”
Hicks decided to drive the kitten back to her house, even if it meant being late or missing her dinner entirely.
“I placed her in the car with me, and she crawled all over me, wrapped her arms over my neck, and hopped into the passenger seat,” Hicks explained. “I had to pull over a few times to get her settled, but I finally got her on my lap, wrapped in the sweater, and she was quiet.” And I was patting and loving on her.”
Bringing the kitten inside the house didn’t seem like a smart idea because Hicks already has a large dog and an older cat. So Hicks created a cozy haven for the kitten in the garage, replete with a litter box and cat food and water containers. She also tucked the cat into a bed she had constructed for her. She also made a bed for the kitten by tucking her sweater into a cardboard box.
Hicks shared a photo of the rescued kitten with a request for someone to adopt her on Facebook. She then proceeded to her dinner. Hicks intended to bring the kitten inside her house (after securing her dogs in another room), bathe her, and take her to bed with her when she returned a few hours later. Hicks, on the other hand, received a rude awakening.
“My across-the-street neighbor came racing over,” Hicks added. “‘Jill, do you still have that kitten?’ she inquired. ‘Yes, I do,’ I said. ‘Can I see it?’ she inquired. I believe it is a bobcat. ‘Have you read all of the Facebook comments on the photo you posted?’
Hicks and her neighbor went to see if the kitten, who was hiding in a cardboard box, was still alive. Hicks took the cat in his arms and attempted to figure out who it really was.
“It was her tail that gave it away,” Hicks explained. “When I initially saw her, I saw she had a short tail, but I didn’t properly study her until I returned from dinner. Short, stubby tails are common in cats, but this one was a touch pointed at the end and had a white spot on it. And she’d begun to hiss a little… and snarl a little. “Yeah, this might be a bobcat,” I responded.
After her surprising discovery, Hicks wrote another post on Facebook. “Ok so never mind about rehoming this ‘kitten’ I found on the side of the road,” the post said. “Apparently I rescued a baby bobcat.” The post went viral.
Hicks knew a wild animal wouldn’t appreciate a bath and sleeping in a bed with a human — but she also didn’t want to leave the little bobcat kitten alone in the garage. So she slept in the garage with her.
“About every 30 minutes, I’d switch on the light and check to see whether she was okay,” Hicks explained. “I was able to get her to drink a lot of water.” She didn’t eat anything that night, but the next morning she ate some tuna fish.”
Hicks contacted Juniper Russo, the director of For Fox Sake Wildlife Rescue, the next day. Russo took in the baby bobcat, which is thought to be around seven weeks old.
The bobcat, now named Arwen, was discovered to be anemic, so Russo has been assisting her in regaining her strength and health.
“Arwen developed anemia immediately after she arrived,” Russo told The Dodo, “possibly as a result of a combination of causes, including the abrupt separation from her mother.” “She required some intense care for a few days, but she is currently doing extremely well.” I expect her to require assistance until next spring. She’ll be released into a protected wilderness area when the time comes.”