By Liz Collin

LAKE ELMO, Minn. (WCCO) — Locked in a cage, a bobcat named Tractor growled while waiting to be anesthetized.

“It’s hard to communicate to him that this is better for the long haul,” said Tammy Thies.  “Today he’s not appreciating all this attention.”

Thies is the director of the Wildcat Sanctuary in Sandstone, Minn. She brought Tractor to the Cedar Pet Clinic in Lake Elmo on Thursday for hip surgery.

One of Tractor’s keepers could tell the 13-year-old bobcat was slowing down.

“He’s not in a lot of pain yet,” said Thies. “But after bringing him to the vet, the radiograph showed that there was severe arthritis.”

Vet techs shaved Tractor’s thick coat to prepare him for surgery. Dr. Steve Levine explained that he and colleague Dr. Lara Rasmussen won’t fix the bobcat’s hips. Instead, they planned to scrape off tiny sensory nerve fibers off the bone. It’s called hip denervation.

“You do it, they feel better right away and they can do whatever they want,” said Levine. “That’s why it’s an ideal procedure for this cat.”

Levine’s group, Veterinary Surgical Specialists, has been doing surgery for a couple years — not on bobcats, but on dogs.

“Like with exactly these types of hips,” said Levine, as he gestured toward the bobcat’s hips. “They’re really better. We’re not curing the problem. We’re just making it so that we’re getting rid of the pain. They’re still gonna have the arthritic hips; they just don’t feel it.”

Both the Cedar Pet Clinic and Veterinary Surgical Specialists donated their services.

“The Wildcat Sanctuary is a fantastic organization,” said Levine. “And we truly believe in what they do. We’re willing every time to do whatever we can to help them.”

There are 120 wildcats at the sanctuary.

“Tigers, lions, cougars, servals and bobcats, lynx,” said Thies. “Any wildcat that people try to keep as a pet.”

Tractor was bought as a pet.

According to Thies, the bobcat got his name when his owner told her father, “I got a bobcat.”

The father’s response was, “Why do you need a tractor?”

Around age three, Tractor started spraying throughout his Burnsville home and acting aggressively toward visitors. That’s when his owner turned him over to sanctuary staff.

Thanks to Thursday’s surgery, Tractor should be moving smoothly for years to come.

Paula Engelking, Producer
Contact Paula

WCCO-TV’s Liz Collin Reports

Comments (8)
  1. Ron says:

    Where is the Sanctuary link ? I want to send them money.

    THIS & THE INDIAN RESERVATION CRUEL KILLING of dogs & cats as a means to population control are GREAT & NECESSARY STORYIES ON ANIMALS WCCO!


  2. Mollie says:

    That is exactly what the Wild Cat Santuary is against – and trying to prevent. Unless I am reading your post wrong, you are obviously very ignorant.
    Too bad there’s not a fund set up to help you – I am sure someone somewhere would take pity. I’ll save my $$ for organizations like the one noted here thanks.

  3. Marilyn Scott-Wilkes says:

    Good comment Mollie I agree….Why do people get pets like this that they know they can’t handle when they get older yeah yeah they are very cute when they are small and adorable, but when they get older they either kill em or be killed or turn them loose to fend for the…mselves this is animal crulity it’s not fair to the commuinty they live in nor it is fair to the animal. I used to have a friend that had a pet cougar he kept her in a very small cage on a hill in his back yard in Farmingtion. I could see in her eyes she was not liking her surroundings at all, she paced back and forth in this very small area

  4. Susan says:

    The Wildcat Sanctuary website is:

    thanks for caring!

  5. Gwenn Chriss says:

    A friend and I are sponsors of one of the bengal hybrid cats at The Wildcat Sanctuary. We have visited the Sanctuary yearly for the past three years and have found that the cats are receiving exemplary care, as shown by Tractor’s surgery. The cats have appropriate habitat, nourishing food, heated shelters, toys, perches, and lots of TLC from the staff. If you have any charitable funds available, please consider donating to The Wildcat Sanctuary. We are impressed that that administrative funding is low, meaning more money for care of the cats.

  6. Jenny says:

    Kudos to Cedar Pet Clinic for donating quality veterinary care to the residents of the Wildcat Sanctuary for the better part of the past 15 years.

  7. Staff says:

    We are proud to work with organizations such as The Wildcat Sanctuary; together we can give these amazing animals a future in a natural habitat. See for more photos…Dr. Baillie working on a tiger… and more good neighbor work.

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