Update 19 April 2021: The couple involved in a bizarre bobcat attack that was captured on a security camera have been identified as Kristi and Happy Wade. The incident occurred outside their home in Burgaw, North Carolina on April 9. Fearing for their safety and certain that the bobcat was carrying some kind of affliction, Happy Wade shot and wounded the cat before law enforcement officers arrived and euthanised it. It's body was sent to a lab in Raleigh where it tested positive for rabies (confirming the Wade's suspicions). The couple were both bitten by the rabid cat and have received treatment for rabies.

"I’m not happy that this happened, we don’t take any pleasure that I shot the cat" Happy Wade told WECT-TV. "In my head, I knew it had already attacked two people. If it had attacked somebody else and I didn’t do something, morally it would have bothered me for a long time."

Read the full story below.

___________________________

One moment you're issuing a friendly greeting to a passing jogger, the next you're manhandling a severely disgruntled bobcat and "shotputting" the predator across the front lawn. That's how the day started for one feline-flinger who was forced into a dangerous tussle with a bobcat after it launched a surprise attack on his wife. Security camera footage of the unusual incident was recently shared on Twitter where it quickly amassed millions of views.

The video appears to show a confectionary-laden man preparing to get into a vehicle. While musing over the car's cleanliness and setting down his coffee mug, a yowling bobcat enters the picture on the opposite side of the vehicle, leaping onto a woman (later identified as the man's wife) and generally unleashing a flurry of chaos. The man rushes to his wife's aid behind the vehicle and staggers back into view holding the wild cat at arm's length. Weighing up his options of what to do with a snarling, biting bobcat, he tosses the attacker across the lawn and unholsters a firearm in anticipation of another onslaught. The bobcat bolts under the vehicle.

It's unclear how the incident ended or indeed what triggered the attack in the first place [Editor's note: See update above], but it does raise some important points about bobcat behaviour and coexisting with suburban-adapted wildlife – an opportunity that conservation biologist and science communicator Imogene Cancellare was not going to miss out on. "“Bobcat” is trending and I feel like I’ve been training for this my whole life," she quipped on Twitter, followed by an informative thread about all things bobcat (read it here).

Cancellare points out that the offending feline looks to be a juvenile, but stresses that even young bobcats can inflict significant damage when they go on the offensive – something that the cats are unlikely to do unless provoked, defending their young or suffering from an illness such as rabies. Discerning viewers spotted that the cat in the trending video can be seen crossing the street prior to the attack suggesting that it deliberately approached the family. Although there can be quite a lot of variation in the behaviour of rabid animals, this evidence strengthens the case that the bobcat may have been infected with rabies – something that is uncommon in the species according to Cancellare. 

As for the pet carrier, while there was a cat in the enclosure, it seems "like a reach" that the bobcat would have crossed the street to attack a domestic animal while humans were around, writes Cancellare.

Although the details of the incident remain sparse – leading some to question the authenticity of the clip – this is not the first dramatic skirmish we've seen between human and bobcat. In 2017 a passing motorist in Anthem, Arizona stopped to assist a dog walker whose German shepherd was caught in a fierce struggle with a bobcat. After freeing the dog from the cat's grip, the feline turned its attention to the human helper, latching onto his hand. He wound up with a fractured thumb and deep lacerations; the bobcat later tested positive for rabies. 

That same year, this time in Florida, a wildlife officer had a hairy showdown with a bobcat that also appeared to be rapid. And in January this year, another incident involving a rabid wild cat occurred in Connecticut forcing a Southbury resident to bludgeon a bobcat with a log after it attacked his wife. 

Despite these somewhat-harrowing tales of bobcats gone wild, the medium-sized felids – found throughout most of the contiguous US – typically live alongside humans with minimal conflict. They are generalist feeders and dine on everything from small rodents to birds (pets may also be on the menu, so it's best to keep an eye on Mittens if you know there are bobcats around). They are usually most active at dusk and dawn and will (mostly) shy away from humans.

If you do come across an aggressive bobcat, Cancellare suggests making loud noises, waving your arms and "throwing things at it". In the case of an attack, keep the cat away from your face (something that the star of the latest video appears to have done effectively) to avoid damage to your eyes. 

It's unclear what became of the cat in the video, however, unverified information circulating online suggests that it was euthanised and later shown to have been suffering from rabies. "The best way to reduce the spread of rabies in your area, for any species and for any rabies variant, is to 1. vaccinate your pets and 2. not feed wildlife, or feral domestic pets. When animals congregate, they are more likely to contract disease," Cancellare tweeted.

This is a developing story. We'll update the details once we know more. 

* A previous version of this article indicated that it was unknown if a cat was present in the pet carrier. This has since been amended as new information emerged.

Header image: Kenneth Cole Schneider