A resident of San Manuel, Arizona returned home from work earlier this month to find an unexpected visitor in his dog’s bed. As he approached the uninvited guest, he quickly discovered that it was a bobcat. According to Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) officials, the wild feline likely made its way into the home via the doggie door.
Nikola Zovko, whose 8.5-acre property is located an hour northwest of Tucson, is the owner of three dogs, two cats, a sheep, and a donkey. While wild critters—including cougars, badgers, and coyotes—regularly traverse Zovko’s property, none had ever scaled the five-foot fence and made their way into the residence until a few days ago.
Upon seeing the bob-tailed intruder, Zovko initially thought it was one of his own cats. “I said, ‘Fuzzerhead, what’re you doing in Squeakers’s bed?’” he told The Guardian. Then he realized, “Oh that’s not Fuzzerhead. That’s a real life bobcat.”
Zovko snapped a photo and called the AZGFD, who advised him to back away from the scene and open all his doors. The bobcat found its way out before game and fish agents arrived, but the agency shared Zovko’s photo in a Twitter post.
Many thanks to concerned citizens & the Veterinary Specialty Center Tucson from the family of #Squeakers, who turned up injured Tues. after a bobcat entered their home Mon. through a doggy door. The family asks that you show your support on Instagram at Squeakers2023. https://t.co/xg7SiA8sUj pic.twitter.com/0oPdfFvFzY— AZ Game & Fish Dept (@azgfdTucson) March 8, 2023
After the cat crept away, Zovko discovered that his 10-year-old chihuahua-dachshund mix was missing. It showed up the next afternoon with deep lacerations on its back—apparently sustained during a violent tussle with the wild feline. After administering stitches, the veterinarian said the dog was lucky to be alive.
AZGFD posted an image of Squeakers on the mend and thanked the center and neighbors who helped pitch in for the surgery. Zovka explained that Squeakers has always been a survivor. His family adopted him after he’d been hit by a car, he said.
Bobcats are broadly distributed across North America. According to AZGFD, the overall U.S. population is somewhere between 2.3 and 3.6 million individual cats. The Grand Canyon State boasts the highest bobcat density throughout the animal’s entire range.
While they generally avoid humans, they do occasionally show up in back yards looking for water or stalking small birds or pets. They can be hunted in Arizona with a valid hunting license from August 1 to March 31 and trapped from November 1 through the end of February.