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The Big Cat Rescue shared the story of Summer, the “tiniest bobcat ever,” after her first anniversary in the sanctuary in Tampa, Florida. The bright-eyed “forever kitten” Summer is a favorite for many, remaining small with adorable big eyes. But don’t let her ridiculously cute looks fool you; she’s still a ferocious little bobcat. Unfortunately, her unique health condition means she can’t survive in the wild, and will always call the sanctuary home.

Summer the Bobcat’s Dramatic Rescue

Workers at a demolition accidentally scooped up the 2 1/2-week-old kitten in an excavator bucket before they saw her. Once in rescuers’ care, they nursed her back to health from critical condition, as she was dehydrated, injured, anemic, had salmonella, and suffered from fleas and multiple parasites.

bobcat kitten

Images via Instagram/Big Cat Rescue

At the time, she couldn’t use her front legs, sliding around on her face.

The rescuers weren’t sure she would make it, and it was “touch and go” for a while. However, they would go to great lengths to save her while wearing ghillie suits (tree camouflage) to avoid having the kitten imprint on humans. As she improved, they gave the bobcat every kind of toy to play with. She loved her stuffed llama, in particular.

Tiny kitten bobcat with llama stuffed toy

bobcat kitten with stuffed animal

With months of round-the-clock intensive care, physical therapy, and many ups and downs, Summer made incredible improvements and went to a big playroom in September 2021.

bobcat in a play tunnel

Soon, she could finally visit the larger outdoor area and observe her bobcat neighbors from a safe distance. 

bobcat kitten throws paws up

Summer Remained a Forever Kitten

Over time, the rescuers noticed Summer’s growth was stunted, and they weren’t sure why. Lab tests were inconclusive, but she continued to do well and found a new friend, a little bobcat kitten named Autumn.  

Bobcat kittens in sanctuary, Tampa

Summer and Autumn via YouTube

Flash forward to spring 2022, and Summer was still much smaller than an average bobcat. At 9 months old, she weighed 7 pounds, half of what was expected. Her friend Autumn was twice her height, although around the same age.

Her health also declined as the veterinarians discovered she could not digest whole prey normally and may have a congenital defect. She couldn’t digest fur and bones like most bobcats due to a narrow pelvis that blocked up her digestive system. So, she requires a soft diet of only meat, which she could not find in the wild. If released, she almost certainly wouldn’t survive for long.

Then and Now, Bobcat, Big Cat Rescue, Tampa

Everyone determined that Summer would be nonreleasable in May for many reasons, including the possibility she could release defective genes into the wild population.

It was “incredibly sad” since the aim is always to release the bobcats back into the wild wherever possible, which is what happened to Autumn. Instead, Summer would have a forever home at the rescue, where she would always be a beloved princess. Although she has only been at the sanctuary for over a year, she changed and touched so many lives. 

Adult wild cat

Is Anything Cuter than Summer the Bobcat? 

Summer became a favorite online as she chirped happily, exploring her amazing sanctuary. Here, she had so much room to explore and play. When she wanted breakfast, she would make squeaky chirping sounds that you might assume were from a bird. 

“She’s little, she’s cute, and she walks like a model,” the rescuers said as she walked her own catwalk. 

Although there may not be a cuter creature, she is a wild animal and always will be. 

As she arrived at her first birthday on July 4, 2022, the rescuers gave her a party, with enrichment she could explore and shred to pieces if she wanted. They go to such great lengths for each of the big cats that find sanctuary there.

For more about Summer and the beautiful bobcats at the Big Cat Rescue, you can follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

More about the Forever Kitten Summer’s story from Big Cat Rescue below:

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