Jill Hicks is what you could call an animal lover. So much so that the Tennessee woman rescued a kitten from a busy road. Only it turned out the kitten wasn't a domestic house cat at all — it was a baby bobcat.
Hicks was driving down Graysville Road in Chattanooga, Tennessee, when she thought she spotted a rabbit attempting to dart across the busy street, she said in a social media post.
When she got closer, she saw that the animal appeared to be a kitten (of the domestic house cat variety, not the bobcat kind, which are also called kittens).
"So I pulled over and surprisingly it didn’t run from me," Hicks said on Facebook. "I put it in the car with me and it climbed all over me like a kitten would do, got in floorboard under my feet, and after stopping a couple of times to get it nestled into my lap, I finally got home with it."
The Tennessee woman already owns a dog and a cat, so she set-up the suspected kitten in her garage, giving it food, water, a litter box and a makeshift bed made of a cardboard box and a soft sweater. She even named the little furball "Arwen."
When her neighbor asked to come see the kitten, Hicks obliged. It was when the two started taking pictures and examining the fuzzy baby that they made a shocking realization — this was no domestic house cat. Arwen was a baby bobcat.
"Thank the lord for her because I sure was about to put that baby in the sink and give it a bath and put it in bed with me!" Hicks wrote.
According to the post on Facebook, Hicks took Arwen to For Fox Sake Wildlife Rescue. She's now being cared for properly and will most likely be released back into a protected area near where she was found in March.
This certainly isn't the first case of a wild animal being mistaken for a domestic house pet. Bobcats have been mistaken for domestic house cats in Illinois and Minnesota, and a Croatian woman was shocked to discover her puppies were actually jackals in 2018.
But there are ways to spot the differences between bobcats and domestic house cats. For one, domestic cats have a longer, ringed tail when compared to bobcats, who have short tails. Bobcats also have a much more square muzzle. But the biggest visible difference is in the ears: bobcats have large tufted ears with sharply pointed tips.
As for Hicks, she doesn't seem at all upset by the experience, saying on Facebook that the bobcat kitten "stole a piece of my heart that she will have forever!"
She also has plans to start a Facebook page for little Arwen.