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Woman Mistakenly Rescues Wild Bobcat Thinking It Was A Domestic Kitten

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (CBS Local) -- A Tennessee woman who thought she had rescued a sweet little kitten from the side of a road was surprised to find out it was actually a potentially dangerous wild bobcat.

Jill Hicks said she was driving down Graysville Road in Chattanooga when she spotted the animal dart across the busy street.

"I pulled over on the side of the road, got out, got it," she told CBS affiliate WDEF. "It did run a little bit, but not fast and not far. I crouched down. I picked it up. I put it in the car with me. It climbed all over me."

Later after consulting with neighbors, Hicks realized what she rescued was actually a bobcat.

"I was going to go home from dinner, give her a bath, put her in the bed with me and when we decided she was a bobcat," she said. "I was like 'I probably better not do all of that.'"

Hicks took the bobcat to For Fox Sake Wildlife Rescue, where it was given the name Arwen.

For Fox Sake Wildlife Rescue animal rehabilitator Juniper Russo says bobcats can be dangerous.

"As they get older they will become more and more aggressive and a male bobcat especially can be about twice the size of a typical domestic cat and also very unpredictable in its behavior," she said.

But Hicks says she wouldn't have done anything differently.

"Even though I thought she was a kitten, had I known she was a bobcat, in that small and in that high trafficked area, I still would have done the same thing," she said.

Russo says there are ways to tell the difference between kittens and young bobcats.

"Bobcat kittens always have spots in some form or another, whereas actual spotted markings are really rare in domestic cats and a bobcat kitten will sometimes, but not always, have black tufts on the ears, which are also possible in domestic cats, but pretty rare," she said.

Russo hopes to have Arwen until March. She says the bobcat will be released in a protected area close to where she was found.

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