Arizona Game and Fish is caring for orphaned mountain lion kitten found in tree

This mountain lion kitten is lucky to be alive, weighing only about 15 pounds on Wednesday when she was brought in, which is half the weight she should be at the age of 5-6 months. (Photo courtesy of Arizona Game and Fish Department)

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is caring for an orphaned mountain lion kitten after it was found trapped in a tree in Sells, Arizona.

“Her condition is about as bad as I’ve seen, maybe even a little bit worse,” said Anne Justice-Allen, the Wildlife Health Specialist who evaluated the kitten when she arrived at Arizona Game and Fish this week.

Arizona Game and Fish officials credit the Tohono O’odham Reservation Animal Control for capturing her and surrendering her to them. They reported that the kitten had a sibling that was found dead at the bottom of the same tree in which the kitten was trapped.

Justice-Allen said she suspects the mother died, too, because she would have brought her kitten down.

“This kitten would have died without intervention,” said Amy Burnett, spokeswoman for Arizona Game and Fish. “Normally we wouldn’t interfere with a mountain lion with kittens. In this case, we could tell from the weight of the kitten that was trapped that the mother was not in the picture.”

Justice-Allen said it’s likely the kitten had been separated from her mother for several days.

Blood work from the kitten indicated her emaciation and dehydration is significant, but does not appear to have caused any long-term damage to her body.

Burnett said the main goal is to get some more weight on her because the kitten, who is 5-6-months-old, weighs only about 15 pounds when she should weigh about 30 pounds.

“The good news is that she ate half a rabbit this morning, so those are the kind of things we’re excited about,” Burnett said.

Justice-Allen said they haven’t decided whether they will release the kitten back into the wild if she makes a full recovery.

“We’re going to do what we can, but just bring a young animal, a young mammal in like this, they very quickly get used to having people around them,” said Justice-Allen.

Burnett and Justice-Allen said anyone who sees a mountain lion kitten or any other baby wild animal should leave it alone because its mother is probably nearby.