September marked the start of virtual guest-speaker presentations at our monthly Texas Native Cats meetings. The topics have been enlightening and relevant, and we have more in store for 2021.
Here’s a brief recap:
- Scott DuBois gave us Jaguars: A Wild Texas History in September. He traced the history of the jaguar in Texas to its ultimate demise in the 1940s when the last ones were killed. He has a fascinating website called Wild Texas History, which traces historical Texas wildlife. Scott left us with this thought: If we don’t remember what we had, how can we ever get it back?
- Sharon Wilcox, PhD, is the Texas state representative for Defenders of Wildlife. Her topic was Spotted in Texas: The Fight to Save the Ocelot. Sharon said these cats ranged from Texas to Louisiana and Arkansas, but are now limited to far South Texas where the only breeding ocelots exist in the US. Their range has been reduced by a number of factors, but habitat destruction and fragmentation are principal causes as well as vehicle strikes. On a positive note, she mentioned that the 12 highway underpasses created in their habitat show great promise at saving the lives of these cats as well as other wildlife.
- Emily Wilson, DVM, is the vet at In-Sync Exotics in Wylie, Texas, a rescue center that provides lifelong care for its residents. She provides care for about 80 exotic captive cats, including mountain lions and bobcats, both Texas natives. Her topic was Exotic Cats, Wild and Captive: Health Issues. Emily gave us an overview of wild mountain lions, bobcats, and ocelots and the infectious diseases that can plague them: toxoplasmosis, FIP, plague, and bobcat fever, among others. For the captive cats, some of them suffer from health issues they acquired before coming to In-Sync, such as poor nutrition, bad declaws, and selective breeding. In addition, old age disease is common as well in these cats. She stressed that quality of life is most important for these beautiful felines.