Two bobcat kittens are befriending each other at PAWS in Lynnwood after their mother's died.
A baby cam monitors their behavior so they don't learn a lot about humans.
They may look like they're playing, but they're really learning how to be predators.
"That behavior prepares them for being a bobcat that is a hunter, that is trying to survive on its own in the wild, trying to find a mate," said PAWS Director Jennifer Convy.
It's rare for PAWS to get two orphaned bobcats at one time. They're both females but one came from Oregon and the other was found in a backyard in east King County.
"Having one is not ideal because the cat can't learn from another kitten, they don't have anyone to play with or engage with all day, so they have to do all that work on their own and we have to do more work ourselves to make sure the kitten is remaining wild and we're keeping the animal busy for a year," Convy said.
They stay busy playing in trees and other toys that mimic the wild. Even when bottle fed, staff wore leather gloves and disguised themselves - sometimes as other animals.
"So they don't recognize people as the food giver and they don't recognize our voices or get accustomed to that because we want them to go back to the wild and do their own thing," Convy said.
For Convy, it's an important reminder to leave wildlife alone and call professionals when you suspect an orphaned critter. The more they get to know humans, the less likely they'll survive. They may have a teddy bear like young humans, but they don't know that.
"My hope is they get released next spring, fully healthy, ready to find a mate, reproduce, continue on. That they stay where they belong in the wild, don't bother anybody and we don't bother them. Really, that they go to the wild and we don't see them again," Convy said.
The hope is the bobcats will be released where they came from next spring. It will take a several thousand dollars to return the cats to the wild, and PAWS depends on donations and volunteers. They are currently looking for volunteers to help care for wildlife. For more information, visit the PAWS website.
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