The Wildcat mascot originated during the 1976-77 academic year at UK. Gary Tanner was the original Wildcat, dancing and entertaining thousands of UK fans at Commonwealth Stadium and Rupp Arena during athletics events.
A few years later, he was joined by another Cat - walking on stilts - who made his appearance during UK's twin tower era of Melvin Turpin and Sam Bowie. Even today, the original mascot is joined by Scratch, who's a more child-friendly mascot and serves as the host of UK's official Kids Club.
Today, both mascots attend each football and basketball game, several academic functions and generally serve as friendly ambassadors for the University.
In Fall 2003 and 2004, Scratch was named to the Capital One All-America Mascot Teams and competed for the title of the Capital One Mascot of the Year.
1. Where did the bobcat come from? A: This bobcat was donated to the Salato Center by Scott Shupe, Director of the Woods and Wetlands Wildlife Center in Cadiz, Kentucky (Partially funded by, but not owned by Knight and Hale) and he has been used by them for educational outreach programs. Scott originally aquired the cat from Kipling Zoological Park in Gretna, Nebraska.
2. How old is it? The bobcat is male and was 4 years old when we got him in 1998.
3. How much does it weigh? He weighed about 30 pounds at last weighing, which is normal, but large for a bobcat. (Peterson's Guides give a range from 15-35 pounds)
4. What do you feed it? He will be receiving the "Nebraska" large cat diet, a whole-animal diet commonly used in zoos which supplies all of the nutrients required to live a happy, healthy life. He will additionally be supplemented with beef bones to chew on and we have stocked his "river" with native KY fish which he can catch and eat if he chooses.
5. How long do you expect it to live in captivity? Bobcats live 15-25 years in captivity
6. Will it ever be at a home game? No. This would be great for the fans, but bad for the cat. Bobcats are very shy animals and though this one was raised by humans, they do not respond well to large, cheering crowds.
7. Do you plan on acquiring more bobcats? We have aquired a female cub which is being cared for by Woods and Wetlands until she is old enough to hold her own with the male. We expect her to arrive next spring!
8. If you do, will they breed? No. Both cats are neutered, and we will not be breeding them.
9. Is a wildcat the same as a bobcat? In Kentucky it is! Although there is another species called a wildcat (Felis sylvestris) the term "Wildcat" is commonly used to refer to bobcats in the United States.
10. Is it a male or female? This cat is male, however we will have a female arriving in the Spring when she's old enough to join our male.
11. Was the cat captured in the wild? This cat was born and bred in captivity. A wild-caught bobcat would not respond as well to park visitors as one that has bonded to humans.
12. Are bobcats common in Kentucky? Bobcats are found predominantly in Eastern Kentucky, but are also found in lesser numbers in Western Kentucky. Although more rare, you may also find them in Central Kentucky as well.
13. If you can hand-raise a bobcat, do they make good pets? No. Wild animals are always wild and will never be as domestic as the average house cat. Most experts frown upon the private ownership of wild animals.