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Our Mighty (and Healthy) Cougar
April 6, 2023

Giving a health exam to the top feline predator in the Pacific Northwest takes a team of dedicated professionals – something our cougar Carly has here at Northwest Trek. Carly’s team has worked extensively with her for years to ensure exams run smoothly and safely.

Carly’s predator status, size, and nature make getting to the exam room slightly different. Through training (and plenty of treats), Carly will now voluntarily take injections to initiate her sedation. She finds a comfortable resting place in her “bedroom” and lets the medicine take effect.

Once it’s safe, the veterinary team led by Dr. Allison Case enters Carly’s home to intubate and begin general anesthesia. This process provides an extra layer of protection to transport Carly in the vet van safely to the on-site veterinary clinic.

The Exam

Getting a fully grown cougar into the exam room is no easy feat. But with a group of mighty women, anything is possible. Carly is moved in a carry blanket from the van and gently lifted onto the exam table. Veterinary Technician Tracy immediately commences work to keep Carly under anesthesia and monitor her vitals.

After a brief moment of admiration for her long, muscular (and fluffy) body, the exam can begin. Dr. Case first checks Carly’s head. She examines her eyes, nose, and ears. “Gorgeous,” she exclaims.

“She’s a high-maintenance gal,” jokes keeper Haley. Carly spends plenty of time grooming herself, which shows in her exam and health.

Next, the team begins to take x-rays of Carly’s body. Due to her size, it can be a time-consuming process. The team works together to obtain digital radiographs of her muscles and bones.

Dr. Case examines each image with intensity and awe. Looking through the radiographs, Dr. Case explains that she will partner with a veterinary radiology specialist to review one of the images further.

Finishing up, the keepers work with Veterinary Technician Tracy to shave an area of Carly’s tail. Carly is trained to participate in her own health care through voluntary blood collection from her tail. A shaved tail allows the keepers to get a closer look and visualize the area.

Meanwhile, Dr. Case gives Carly a comprehensive dental exam and cleaning. Carly is turning 14 this year, and yet her teeth are in very good health.

Carly the cougar getting a dental exam

The team then moves Carly back to the van with the carrying blanket. Back in her bedroom, keepers have prepared a comfortable, warm area for Carly to gradually awaken from her medications.