Justin Denzel
Hunt for the Last Cat
1991
from the dustjacket:

For four summers Thorn and his people have walked the land unafraid. But now a new roar sounds through the forest. Smilodon has returned.

Fonn, the mysterious girl who talks to the animals and walks alone, has warned twelve-year-old Thorn about the sabertooth cat, but the shaman and the elders will not listen. They are convinced that the girl is a spirit, a changeling, the ghost of the mighty Smilodon, sent back to claim revenge on the hunters who killed him four years before.

As the terrifying roar echoes ever louder in the night, it is up to Thorn to save Fonn from his people's anger, and to save his people from Smilodon.

Justin Denzel, author of Boy of the Painted Cave, transports readers to the Florida grasslands of long ago, at the time of a rapidly changing world. The giant beasts that once roamed the land are disappearing, making way for new, smaller breeds of animals. And somewhere, out in the night, one of the last sabertooth cats stalks his prey.