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Who's That (Cat) Lady?

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Sorry to make you wait for this. I got it written and then couldn't get it posted. Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans.

When we last left Zick, she was on all fours at the sliding deck door, head and camera sticking out of her big warm blind of a house into crisp 22 degree air, fffreeeaaaaking out at what she'd been blessed to see this morning. 

One bobcat in the meadow had transmuted into two, and the second cat was putting on a nice greeting display, clearly pleased to meet up with Cat #1.

If I could be sure of anything, it was that these two animals knew each other well.

There was not a whiff of aggression at their meeting. Just pleasure, or at the very least, a friendly tolerance of each other's presence.

I'd call this a social yawn. It's certainly not a snarl, nor did I hear a yowl. 

Just hello, how are you? Now I'll be passing on by. I don't know if it was this next shot that made me think I was watching a female passing a male--pretty cute the way Cat 1 watches the walk-by and licks its chops. To me, that's just the aftermath of the yawn. Bill, on the other hand, to whom I always spill the hottest, freshest animal news, had this read: "He's checkin' her out."

The second cat kept walking, and the first stayed put. But Cat 2 didn't go far. Just this far. 

Cat 1 continued grooming itself, the essence of cool.

Cat 2 walked down to the border of the meadow and looked back its length.

then, praise the benevolent Nature Gods, it sat down. I was dying to get a face portrait of it, as I had of Cat 1.

This view from the deck door was a bit obscured so I jungle-crawled back to the picture window. 

And it looked right at me. Click. Gotcha, Kitty.  Now maybe I'd be able to work a little magic. Because magic is what I like best. 
Identifying individual animals is becoming an obsession of mine. It's one of my favorites.

 Look at the big dark blotches on the cheek ruff, hanging like dangly earrings to each side. That's not something every bobcat has.

We'll come back to those. 
For now, just click on the photos and luxuriate in this beautiful, beautiful wild creature, come to grace our lives. They look best embiggened, so click and go through them.

They were just a stone's throw away from each other. 

Cat 2 looked around. I think I like this shot best. All those doo-dads on its fur. The earrings, the bars, the spots, more bars, more spots. Can you believe this walks my field, and sits in the frosty morning light to be adored and admired? I still can't.

Cat 2

Compare with Cat 1, who has striped cheek ruffs, but no big blotches. No lower neck bars like Cat 1. What a gift it is to have a wild cat so ornate, that a Science Chimp like me can hope to tell one from another!

Cat 1

 Cat 2 dozed for a few moments, then got bored.

It got up, and, looking like a mini-hyena, sloped off toward the multiflora rose mess on the meadow border. 

 I clicked away, wanting to record every bit of it, even its south end. I wanted to keep this encounter in my files and my heart forever.

Cat 2's exit did not go unnoticed. Cat 1 hurried to get up and follow!

and, amazingly, the two of them took the same path into the dense woods. 
You can see Cat 2 as a dark shape in back, while Cat 1 is just entering the brush. 

 And with that, the show was over. I'd had Cat 1 in view from 8:03-8:07 AM, when Cat 2 arrived. And they both disappeared at 8:12:34. Nine minutes of pure bobcat-worshipping bliss. It felt like an eternity. Time seemed to stand still.

Now you understand why I leap up from the drawing board and run through the living room so many times each day, especially in the morning.
There might be something out there.
There usually is!

About that magic...It was time to look back through my photos. Here is James, from August 17, 2016.

 James is an absolutely beautiful bobcat. Heck, they all are. What jumps out at me is the large white muzzle patch beneath his pink nose. While Cat 1, below, has two small white spots there, its dark whisker tracks go all the way across to the center line. Cat 1 also has a dark crescent on its chin, and a strong midline up the forehead. James lacks these marks. No match there.

 Let's look at Cat 2 again.

CINDY DEC 10 2018
Well, well, well! Hello, Cindy! You look exceptionally lovely in winter fur.  

  Here you were in August 2017, and you're wearing your dangly earrings. You have the strong V on your little white chin; the flames over your eyebrows. Sidebars on your chest, too. I'm so very glad to see you again, my dear.


So Cat 2 is Cindy. Who is Cat 1? 

I don't know. I looked at the only other good bobcat face shot I have, which is off the MeatCam just a few hundred yards down the meadow. It's a huge tom from March 5, 2018.
And the dual stripes on its cheek ruffs tell me it's neither James, who has a single cheekruff stripe. nor Cat 1. This cat has a much whiter muzzle than Cat 1.

 Obviously, we got us some bobcats up here, even though actual sightings are months apart. The thought gives me a delicious shiver. So does the March sunshine in this beautiful photo. Thank you, C., for loan of this camera. It is being put to good use.

Once I figured out that Cat 2 was Cindy, I assumed Cat 1 was a male. And yesterday, it hit me...On what evidence? The more I thought about it, the more I realized I had none. Assumptions are not much good in nature sleuthing.

Yes, they were happy to see each other, relaxed and traveling together. And it is December, the start of bobcat mating season. But that doesn't automatically mean these two are mates. Thinking outside the box, Cat 1 could  be Cindy's son or daughter, though I couldn't see much, if any, size difference between them. (Cindy is about 2 1/2 now; she was a yearling in 2017). And I just don't get a heavy-boned, thick-jawed tomcat feeling from Cat 1. But maybe Cindy's a bobcat cougar. 
Much as I scrutinize the photos of Cat 1's south end, I can't see a hint of the jewels so nicely displayed in James' and Trail Cam Cat's photo. Jury's out on Cat 1's identity. The more I look at it, though, the cuter it gets. Maybe it IS Cindy's kitten!
But you may be sure the Science Chimp will be watching, perfectly content to get a piece of the puzzle every few months. And trying not to be led by assumptions.

And there are several months of fresh trailcam photos yet to look at, too. I put a little beef roast end out just last evening, and the camera was still firing away. 
I think it's a good bet there will be bobcats on the card when I finally find time to download it. Full-face identifiable color shots, doubtful, but hope is what it's all about.

There are not enough hours in the day to fully appreciate this place. Not even close.

This may be my last blogpost for awhile, but it's a doozy, so it's a good one to leave for awhile.


Do glad you could capture and share this with us.

Squeeeeeeee! Thanks for sharing this lovely encounter!

Oh, be still my heart! What a wonderful soul refreshing few minutes. Pure heaven on earth. Thank you for sharing.

I have only seen bobcats in my dreams. Sigh...

We'll miss the posts, but of course, I get it. Love and hugs.

Amazing and wonderful!!!

how wonderful! as a fan of bobcats, you might want to google up "Mr Murderbritches" who was quite the thing a few days ago ...

Julie, we've been blessed to see a bobcat on 2 occasions in recent years at our place on the Gulf Coast of FL. We've learned to look for them very early in the morning, just after daybreak, and again near sunset. They prey on the rabbits that also inhabit the coastal area, and also on unsuspecting birds. They are probably a frequent visitor but surely go unseen if we aren't paying attention. But we share your excitement when we get to see one!

Cat 1 has the same forehead flames as Cindy.

Love these big kitties!! I’m still waiting for a bear in my backyard!!

Thank you, Julie! What a treasure. You know this crazy cat lady loves seeing these big cats in the wild! They are truly gorgeous.

Thanks for sharing...envious of your backyard neighbors :-)

or ..

Thanks for this cat is gorgeous

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