We know, we know! You would die for T’challa and you’d give your right arm (literally— he would facilitate it) to have a T’challa of your own. But not so fast! Before you go out looking for a derpy bobkitten of your own, please consider this:
- T’challa is dangerous. He’s tame and he’s slow but he’s got jaws powerful enough to kill a deer and razor-sharp claws that could open an artery. While wild bobcats almost never attack humans and no deaths from bobcats have been recorded, a bobcat who is fearless of people is not safe to have in your home.
- He is expensive to insure. T’challa isn’t handled by the public, but stuff happens. Suppose a tree fell on his enclosure and he got out and tried to play with a kid. If the child panicked (which would be a reasonable reaction!) and T’challa panicked too, that could lead to traumatic and expensive injuries. We believe that all wildlife educators and exotic pet owners have a responsibility to insure against these kinds of incidents, so that leaves us with a bill of almost $700 a year.
- …and expensive go feed. Every day, T’challa eats either one $8 can of specialized food, one $7 whole frozen rabbit, or three pounds of meat. That’s about $3,000 a year just to feed him. It’s not a bill most individuals can handle.
- T’challa is spicy and unpredictable. 99% of the time, T’challa is a big silly potato who acts similar to a house cat. The other 1% of the time? He’s a fireball, and you can’t always predict when those episodes might kick in. Sometimes a specific movement, a sound heard from a neighbor’s yard, or possessiveness over a toy or food will trigger him to behave like the wild animal he was meant to be.
- He would be happier if he’d been able to live in the wild. While we love T’challa and give him the best life we can, the fact is that almost all wild animals would be happiest and most fulfilled living in the freedom of the natural world. It’s not safe for T’challa to live in nature, but we wish it had been a possibility for him. Every nonreleasable animal is a tragedy, even though we make the most of it.
- Bobcats are messy, territorial pee-ers and poopers. We have never known of a bobcat that lived in a home and was house trained like a cat. T’challa pees and poops in the parts of his pen that he wants to make sure everyone knows are his. That means toys, food bowls, water bowls, and his pond. If he lived indoors, he would mark floors, countertops, walls, rugs, and furniture.
- T’challa is a lifetime commitment. A bobcat in captivity can live up to 32 years. If you were to get a “T’challa” of your own, that’s huge. Moving? New pet? New baby? New job? A marriage, divorce, or serious illness or injury? These are important considerations for any pet, but are particularly serious for an animal like a bobcat.
- Veterinary care is hard to come by. Most veterinarians will not see bobcats because they require specialized care. There are only a few in our area who can take care of him. If T’challa had an emergency in the middle of the night or on a weekend, no 24-hour vets can see him. If he were in a typical home with someone who didn’t have veterinary training or supplies, there would be no possible way to help him.
- T’challa can’t be boarded. If you had your own bobcat, you’d have to say goodbye to vacations for up to 30 years. Bobcats can’t be boarded and most private petsitters would not be able to care for a pet bobcat due to their dangerous and unpredictable nature.
- Your state may not allow bobcats to be pets. In Tennessee, captive-bred bobcats can be licensed and legally kept as pets, but bobcats born in the wild cannot. Other states don’t allow bobcats to be pets at all. If you get caught with an animal you are not licensed to have, you could be fined or even imprisoned.
We love T’challa and we’re glad you do too, but please don’t buy or kidnap a bobcat and expect it to go well for you (or the critter)! He is a wonderful ambassador for his species, but a big part of his message is that bobcats belong in the natural world.