Bobcat Kitten Named Chips Deemed ‘Too Nice’ to Return to the Wild

Chips the bobcat seen on December 19th, 2012 recovering at the Sierra Wildlife Rescue center in Placerville, CA. Chips was only a few weeks old when she was found in August by fire crews who battled a 75,000-acre fire in the Plumas National Forest.

Despite suffering second-degree burns on all her paws and smoke and ash in her eyes, Chips is recuperating fine, her rescuers said. Photo: The U.S. Forest Service

A Northern California animal rescue group is trying to help an orphaned bobcat kitten with a problem: She’s too nice.

Meet Chips, the bobcat kitten deemed “too nice” to return to the wilderness after being rescued from a 75,000-acre fire northwest of Lake Tahoe back in August.

Chips was somewhere three or four weeks old when she was found by fire crews stumbling out of the smoldering brush looking disoriented, but she then it seemed to like her rescuers following and snuggling up to one firefighter in particular.

“I couldn’t just leave her there,” said Tad Hair, the Mad River Hand Crew superintendent who spotted the kitten.

Firefighters tryed to find a bobcat mother, if there was any. After realizing the cub was long abandoned, they took Chips to the rescue shelter of Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care.

Public information officer Clare Delaney said Chips was making tiny bobcat yowls as they cared for her, giving her ice chips and special kitten formula, and wiping some of the soot and ash from her fur.

“When I wiped her little face off and Laurie was holding her, she just fell right back to sleep,” she said. “[She reacted like] it was her mom licking her face.”

According to the SFGate, Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care executive director and co-founder Cheryl Millham said she is confident Chips will regain full vision in both eyes once the infection is cleared. She said Chips is thriving and recovering nicely at the shelter.

“She was so sooty and dirty when they found her and they were worried because she was just walking in circles and was probably dehydrated,” she said. “But I think she’s got a really good start.”

A veterinarian cleaned away burned tissue and treated and wrapped her paws. She got a soft bed and a recovery diet of pulverized mice.

Chips healed up nicely. And on Nov 1 she was brought to an enclosed pen in Placerville.

As part of her training regimen, Chips has had to start chasing down her own mice and rabbits for meals and stop sleeping on a soft bed like the one she’d grown accustomed to while she was receiving medical treatment, reports the Huff Post.

Volunteers at the Sierra Wildlife Rescue in Placerville now are trying to toughen the kitten up, with plans to release her back into the wild next spring, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Volunteer Jill Tripoli says she’s been introduced to two male bobcats, Tuffy and Sierra, who hiss and bare their claws at humans. And she now has to chase down her own mice for meals.

“If you have a friendly bobcat in the wild, that’s not going to work,” said Tripoli, who will give Chips a squirt from a water bottle if she even thinks of buddying up to a human.

Chips, Tuffy and Sierra are all expected to be released back into the wild sometime next spring. After that, we can only imagine the three of them will all be best friends and even find feline love.

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