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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Bob the Cat

Air Date: Week of

Bob the cat raises his chin on command (photo: Mark Seth Lender)

Bobcats are quite small and shy and hard to see - but as Mark Seth Lender observed, nobody should mistake them for a friendly tabby cat.


CURWOOD: From the tiniest of creature in nature to a relatively small yet formidable member of the cat family - the bobcat. Despite its size, a bobcat can take down game up to eight times it own body weight. And though bobcats range far and wide, they're seldom seen. If you do see one, as writer Mark Seth Lender notes, you might almost mistake it for a house cat. Almost, but not quite.

LENDER: Bob the Cat lies in the sun, curled as any cat would. And stretches… And moves into the shade, the whole short length of him. He will purr for you on command to demonstrate his blood pressure is where it should be and also growl, deep in the throat, and scare you but good if you're not expecting it. Then raises his chin when you say, “Smile for me Bob, smile!” so you can see there are no flees or mites on him (not that they would dare). For these favors you reward him with raw meat; and might be tempted to stroke his head or scratch behind his ears.

Bobcats are fearsome hunters: see those teeth! (photo: Mark Seth Lender)

Not recommended.

His looks are no different from a Marmalade tabby cat-napping through the day, except for those little ear tufts and his bobbed tail. And the square of his shape; all muscle, close to the bone and dense as the stump of a tree.

Fifty years ago when I was kid, in Vermont for the first time, I met a cook named Lucille. She had a dairy farm, back when farms were going under at 10 percent a year; making other people’s meals was how she held on. She was in the kitchen, talking with Walter, another farmer. He’d been out deer hunting, he said, saw a bobcat not more he thought than 25 pounds drop from a tree, and rip the throat out of a running 12 point buck.

And I’ve remembered that; which is why out of respect not fear I kept my paws to myself, and let Bob sleep, and I still have both my arms.

He might look like a tabby cat - but don't be fooled (photo: Mark Seth Lender)

Lucille died some years back, and that three hundred acres of hers is long gone. Just weeds and run-down doublewides now. But if you take a moonlight stroll out from the back of her place and into the woods they call the Burn, where men have gotten lost and never been found, a pair of green eyes will be watching you. From the cave to the southern side of Hooker Mountain… Or the shore of Peacham Pond. Oh yes. There’s bobcat out there, and will be. Long after we ourselves are long gone, and forgotten.

A pair of watchful green eyes (photo: Mark Seth Lender)


CURWOOD: Mark's chance to meet and record Bob the cat came thanks to the Sonora Desert Museum. To see some of his pictures, slink on over to our website, LOE.org.



Check out more of Mark Seth Lender’s writing and photographs on his website


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