Three people were reportedly injured in Texas when a family tried to feed two homeless “kittens” they had recently rescued. After doing further research online, the family determined the wayward felines were actually bobcats and turned them over to animal care services.
Not a house cat. Photo: City of San Antonio Animal Care Services
It’s the kind of thing that could happen to anyone in the US (who finds ferocious, vaguely pet-like animals and brings them indoors). Fortunately, Gizmodo has put together this simple guide so you can avoid making the same mistake.
1. Do they have bobbed tails?
When taking in a small feline of uncertain provenance, this should be your first order of business. While some house cats are born with bobbed tails, and others still lose their tails later in life, all bobcats, by definition, possess this key feature.
Graphic: Michigan Department of Nature Resources
“Once they started taking a look at the kittens, seeing how big they were, how robust they were, how their tails were bobbed,” San Antontio Animal Care Services spokesperson Lisa Norwood told local news station KENS. “I think they started doing a little bit more research.”
Checking this first can save you a lot of heartache (and medical care) later.
2. Are they super bitey?
Some level of aggression is to expected when introducing an animal to your home, but if your new pet straight flips out on people, that, too, could be an important sign you have abducted a wild animal.
“[The homeowner] tried to feed them some kitten milk and during the process of doing that, three people were bitten,” said Norwood. “Bitten on the hand. Not bad bites but bites nonetheless.”
3. Is the whole situation kinda sketch?
According to KENS, new information suggests the animals were not found in an alleyway, as initially claimed, but were taken from nearby Atascosa County by a relative of the family.
“Those individuals still maintain they believed the cats were Bengal kittens, a rare domestic breed,” Animal Care Services wrote on Facebook.
State wildlife officials are said to be investigating potential charges. The bobcats, meanwhile, are reportedly uninjured and currently in the care of a wildlife rehabilitation organisation.
3. Are they obviously bobcats?
I mean, c’mon, people.