September 08, 2005
me and the bobcat
One of my operators went on his rounds one morning and called me on the radio shortly thereafter. He was supposed to test-run our emergency diesel fire pump, but said he couldn't do it because "lions" were in the diesel shack.
I walked out there to see what was going on.
My operator told me to be careful, but I thought the dumb bastard was hallucinating, so I just snatched the door open and took a step inside. HOLY BEJUS!!! A bobcat mama had snuck in there and dropped a litter of bobcat kittens right behind my fire pump.
She reared up and snarled at me, with what appeared to be, at a quick glance, three kittens hanging from her teats. I stepped back outside and left the door cracked open.
"Leave 'em alone," I told my operator. "We'll fire up the diesel pump when she decides to move out."
Have you ever seen a wild bobcat? They are impressive animals. A LOT bigger than a house cat, with a mouthful of teeth that mean business, no tail and a VERY pissy attitude. I wanted no truck with that mama.
From my office window, I could see the firehouse, and I watched that bobcat carry all three kittens out of the pump-shack and take them off into the woods. She carried one at a time, by the scruff of the neck, and once she was gone with her litter, I never saw her again.
But don't tell me we don't have bobcats around Savannah. I've SEEN FOUR and if that mama had kittens, there had to be a daddy involved in that equation. That makes FIVE.
They are mean-looking bastards, too.
Yeah, bobcats are bad and all that. That being said, when I was a youngn' I watched a guy strangle one that was caught in a leg-hold trap with his bare hands because he didn't want to "fuck up the hide" by shooting it. Granted, it had one front leg and one hind leg in the trap but still . . .
Now, before you get all wiggy on me concerning leg-hold snap traps, I'm just relating something I saw when I was 10 years old.
Bobcats and their cousins the Lynxes are two of the most gorgeous animals on God's Earth. Sneaky little shits, too. Coupla years ago I was hunting in E. Wash. during a light snowfall and found bobcat tracks inside my footprints half an hour after I had walked up a logging road, turned and come down it. I was being followed and watched. I've often wondered if that little fucker was sizing me up for dinner.
I "owned" a Norsk Skaukatt, (Norwegian Barn Cat) once that was 2/3 the size of a bobcat. That animal was fully capable of killing and eating anything that weighed less than 100 lbs. His name was Odin and he was marked just like a bobcat and weighed about 20 lbs. Bobs can go as large as 50.
I live on the edge of a greenbelt that's a heavily wooded ravine with a year around creek in it that supports a good population of rabbits and raccoons. Odin ate at home about three times a month, less in Spring and Summer. One fall he brought home a half eaten coyote and challenged me when I tried to bury it. Took him two more days to finish it.
A bobcat ten or fifteen lbs. heavier and three or four times more agressive would be a formidable adversary, indeed.
I know for a fact we've got coyotes, coons, rabbits, quail, deer and possums in that ravine, it wouldn't surprise me one bit if there was a bob or two in there as well.
We've got wild cats of some kind living in the wooded bluffs that line Peoria along the Illinois River. No one knows for sure what they are, but too many folks have seen big wild cats. Folks suspect bobcats, of course, but some people think it might be cougars, which I doubt.
I'm all for 'em. Of course, we have a lot of homes build right up next to the woods, so eventually someone's gonna loose Fluffy, and then the shit's gonna hit the fan and there will be demands to "protect the children," and then say goodbye to the cats.
Of course there's always someone who would try to feed the cats too. Big mistake. They will take the food but hang around because of it. Then when someone's pet poodle or whatever gets clawed to death, that's when it will all hit the fan.
Although they're definitely not a everyday sight there are bobcats in southwestern Pennsylvania. I have seen two while deer hunting, probably in the 25 lb. range. I had a stare off with one, neither of us blinked for five minutes as a snowfall gathered on both of our heads. Beautiful animal. They can be trapped in other parts of the state but they're protected around here. You did a good thing by leaving your momma cat alone.
When we lived in San Clemente, we had one that lived in our neighborhood. One morning while sitting down and eating my breakfast, I glanced out the window and thought to myself "Oh, there goes Sweet Pea" (neighbor's cat). Then it hit me, "HOLY SHIT!, that WASN'T Sweet Pea!". I saw it several more times while living there.
Folks, according to what I remember from a program on cats on PBS, the only real difference between a common housecat and a tiger is size.In other words, cute little Tabby sitting on your lap would just as soon kill and eat you if she could.
I raised a bobcat/tabby cross from a kitten to an adult one time. Tabby colors, with tufted ears and big Bobcat feet and hind legs. The sweetest disposition ever, until it saw a dog, and then the fur would fly. He tore into a pack of dogs crapping in my front yard, one time, and sent them off crying. He chased them for half a block before he came back, grumbling and purring at me.
With me standing, and him sitting, I could place my hand on the top of his head, and I'm six foot. I would treat him to a cow spleen from the butcher every so often. I'd toss it out on the lawn and he'd tear into it like a Velociraptor. I lived next door to a yarn shop, and the blue-hairs would watch him growling and bloodying his face with some horror and alarm.
I finally gave him to a friend of mine who lived in the deep woods, because the damn cat couldn't control his claws. He'd want to cuddle in my lap, and I'd get flesh wounds and torn pants. I miss him.
In my part of California (southern end of the SF Bay area, up against the Santa Cruz mountains) bobcats - and mountain lions - are pretty common.
I've never seen a mountain lion while out hiking, but every so often (once or twice a year, the last couple of years) the police end up shooting a mountain lion that wanders into town.
But we see bobcat on and off. Usually, they're making for cover, but there's one 'cat that will let you get within 10 yards before heading for cover. And he usually gives you a pretty disgusted look before he heads out - "Why are you idiots stumbling around and scaring off my dinner?" I wouldn't want to be the dog that bothered one, but they usually go after small game like rabbit, squirrel, and such instead of the local deer or wild pigs.
And yes, my wife is convinced "That cat has evil eyes!". I kind of like 'em, myself - I figure they have to be feisty to deal with the local coyotes.