My Baby Bobcat
I will preface this by saying that I grew up in a very animal friendly family, but it was very large. With so many siblings, there was no privacy, no peace and quiet.
I gained my serenity by being in the woods for hours at a time, sitting on a big coquina rock by a downed tree, watching nature.
It was common for me to bring home stray cats (sometimes, lizards and turtles) and for my sister, Mary, to bring home stray people (Herb, the homeless bum lived with us for almost 2 years).
I was around 10 years old when I went to sit in my favorite place and saw a kitten in a dug up area under the downed tree. He was , what I thought, crying; but, the sound was a high pitched sort of hoarse “Aaaaaaaay”.
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Since I considered myself an expert in taking home “wild cats” (there was no term such as “feral” then) that I could love into being tamed, I snatched up this little baby. He was brown and grey, had a stubby tail, and had really hairy pointed ears. He was so pretty, and I knew I had found a treasure.
It took about 5 seconds before he began his fight to be free. I had a light weight jacket on and zipped him inside. Even though I had on a shirt and sweat shirt under, he screeched, clawed, and bit so much that I ran all the way back home with him.
As always, Mom was in the kitchen when I let my baby go and said, “Got me another cat, Mom”. My poor kitty was so scared that he just raced around, growling. So much noise that my mom came from the kitchen and began screaming for my dad, “Oh my God, Edward, she has a bobcat!” She opened the front, back, and sliding glass doors. He raced out and off.
That was the very first time that I told my mother that I hated her. When I stopped crying, she read about bobcats to me in (get this) the Funk and Wagnall’s Dictionary and nursed my scratches, gashes, and bites
She told me that I had brought home a very wild and dangerous cat, and that his mother could have killed me if she had been there. Of course, I didn’t believe that nonsense. After all, I could have loved his mother into niceness too.
To me, he was just a kitty. I watched for him everyday on that rock for a long time, but he was gone.
Photo: by USDA (US Dept of Agriculture). The cat’s name is “Chips” and he was recovered from a fire. The photo is for illustrative purposes.
I’d have taken it home too!. I’d LOVE to have seen the look on your mom’s face when you walked in the door.
I know you would, Elisa.
What would your mom have done?
She didn’t allow animals in the house. I’m not sure whether that would have been a punishable offense or not:)
I don’t know what to say except, “Sorry”.
She wasn’t a lover of animals, I guess.
Were there outdoor animals?
Please elaborate so I can understand.
We had a lot of outside cats with even more as mama got older. But she was obsessive about the house and believed pets should stay outside. We had a huge dog house made of brick that we’d winterfy and the fence was huge. Mamas cats kept her moving several more years than she would have without them to care for.
I hope I have cats to care for because they will keep me up and about for years just like your Mama. Sounds liek a real nice doghouse you made 🙂 I’d love to build my cats their own house.
This is a page on bobcat kittens. It is rather detailed:
There he is. On the rock.
I fell in love in just a flash of a moment.
Thank you, Michael.
Wow Dee – I’m so glad I read all your comments here too – I wish I could have grown up in the nature like you. I dream of living in a house in the woods like that. I am so jealous. What an amazing family.
Seeing pics of little bobcats must always remind you of him. I went and looked at the pic of the one on the rock you referred to – now I know what the kitten you found really looked like. So sweet. I wish you could have kept him. He was calling for his mama poor thing. I assume he either found her or didn’t make it.
I really, really wish I ‘d known your family, you your sister and your brother Richard and your mum and dad, I’m speechless with admiration for you all and for the absolute love you all had/have for people and animals, you cancel out all the horrible dysfunctional families who care for nothing except themselves. You know Dee you should write a book of memoirs, it would be a best seller, I’m fascinated by your stories.
I never thought about writing memoirs. It was all just normal to me.
We really weren’t wealthy or anything like that. My mom was an R.N. but quit working when I was 5y/o because the family was growing so much. My dad was an engineer for NASA on the Cape.; a decent salary, but a lot of family to support.
They were transparent in most things, especially finances. We were aware when sacrifices had to be made in order to make ends meet, especially when a new family member entered the picture.
We were encouraged to be vocal and opinionated.
It was expected that we would excel academically and as human beings. It was a given that animals were to be loved and cared for.
That’s just the way it was.
Believe me, I was very vocal and opinionated!
And, I shudder to think what would have happened to a “Woody” in my father’s lifetime.
Yes men like your father know that being a man doesn’t mean being cruel and dominant, Woody and his ilk (he could start a pop group with that name) aren’t fit to retrospectively lick your father’s boots Dee. Was your dad involved in the moon landing Dee, I’m fascinated with all things astronaut, there was a couple of programmes on TV here a while back about it and Ruth and I were both really interested in it. I’ve enjoyed reading about your family Dee, have you any more stories?
Dad began his work with NASA in 1960 while they were in the throws of configuring the first manned spacecraft. Alan Shepard became the first USA man in space in 1960. I watch the launch, because we lived in Titusville. It was just a matter of going to the Indian River and looking across the water.
In 1966, the VAB (vehicle assembly building) was constructed, and it was fun to watch the missiles leave the building and transported to the launching pad.
I think the moon landing was in 1969. Dad was involved in the capacity of design and safety with the crafts.
He took an early retirement in 1980. It made me happy, because the hospital I was working at was getting saturated with Cape workers who had stress related maladies, ie. heart attacks, bleeding ulcers.
Sorry, it was 1961 for Alan Shepard, just one month later than the Russians.
That’s so interesting Dee, and about so many of the workers having stress related illnesses, never thought about that happening, all we see on TV are smiling triumphant faces.
Dee, was the stress due to the demands of putting a man on the moon and beating the Russians?
The stress of the competition with the Russians was a big part of it.
But, in preparation for any launch, there were very long workdays and , every time there was a failed launch or failure to orbit, the pressure got worse. According to Dad, there was some finger pointing and assigning blame that went on.
Oh Dee, another lovely story, how kind and trusting you all were and how lucky Herb was the day he met your sister. It’s like something off the TV, I hope you won’t be offended if I say you make me think of that lovely family, The Waltons on TV. Tell us more stories from your childhood pleeeeease 🙂
My youngest brother, Richard, is adopted.
My mom got a call from the family minister (Lutheran) that a young woman was there with her baby. She didn’t have the means to care for him and wanted a loving home. So, ofcourse, Pastor Claus thought of us.
She had already been to a welfare office, so there was an open case on her situation.
Richard came to us as a foster and, after about 4 months, a lady came to get him. NO WAY! He was OUR baby brother. So, Richard was officially adopted at about 8 months old. From that point on it was, simply, forgotten that he was adopted.
Cute about The Waltons, but not.
Plenty of pranks (I had a brother that would pee in our girls’ shampoo bottle and gave me a beautifully gift wrapped “turd” for my birthday), arguments, and down and dirty fights with slaps, scratches, hair pulling, and bites. And, I was a rebel on top of it all.
I don’t know how our folks kept any sanity at all.
Oh no, the brother from hell, a thousand times worse than ours who told us there was a ghost in the wardrobe and used to put a little mechanical thing down the bottom of the bed to nip our toes. I can imagine at your pleasure turning to horror when you unwrapped the turd. What is it about brothers that makes them feel they have to torture sisters I wonder.
Oh my! This page has gotten so big. I love the good old days when we would get an email when any new comment was made on a story you commented on. Any chance of that happening again Michael? It would be sad to miss this continuing story about Dee ‘Walton’. LOL.
It is so wonderful to have good memories of growing up.
I loved that story of little girl Dee collecting cats and being kind to all animals, so nothing has changed then over the years, I bet you and you sister were the despair of your mum and dad they’d never know what or who you were bringing next. I love the mental picture of it, and imagining that little kitten taking off back to freedom, I hope the little soul made it to somewhere safe and had a long life.
My sister is still the same way she always was too. She has such a soft spot for needy people.
She met Herb one day, sitting in the grass and munching a little on some. She gave him her lunch that our mom had packed and told him he could come home with her if he would wait for her after school.
That was it. Herb was just accepted into the family. He was quiet and polite, nonintrusive. It was a happy ending for him, because (I’m not sure how this came about) it was discovered that he had a sister that had looked for him for several years. So, after almost 2 years with us, she came from Ohio and got him.
What a lovely story, thank you Dee for sharing it with us.
I expect you still wonder to this day if that little cat survived, if his mother really was there to look after him. It seems strange if she really had left him there alone.
Those were wonderful days when we could roam around by ourselves without the dangers children face nowadays, Babz and I used to go off over fields and far away, never a thought that anyone would hurt us.
We never met any homeless bums like Herb lol
I know that it’s not unusual for bobcat mamas to leave their babies for periods in order to hunt.
But, again, I don’t believe this baby was left in that place intentionally. He was lost, I’m sure.
Do they usually only have one kitten Dee?
I think they can have just one. What I know is that the litters aren’t large. I think 2 is pretty much the norm, but 4 is possible.
So your instincts were probably right, that solo little cat might have been lost, I hope nothing had happened to his mother.
I am thoroughly enjoying your stories too about your home and extended family and your love of animals, when you have time it would be lovely if you would write more for us x
Our first bobcat was rescued from the wild she lived in the house with my domestics and kids. She was very special, after Sherabie came another… things here just escalated. What started out here with one rescue wild born bobcat ended up becoming an exotic feline rescue. I have since taken in 5 born in the wild bobcats and 4 bobcats bought as pets;( . I ended up becoming a non-profit for exotic felines and have had everything from bobcats to mountain lions here 🙂
All this from one wild born bobcat who stole our hearts and started us on a new path. BTW being a non-profit is not what you think. We funded almost all the needs of these animals out of our pocket very few donations. The only thing we get is no tax on things bought for the non-profit. Very little help from others very few donations.
Our most recent wild born bobcat came to us last year we call her Rowdy she is in the photo with our old boy Rufus. He lost his best friend Biggie a Canadian Lynx and after Biggie passed away Rufus was lost. Then Rowdy came to us last year and she has become his best friend now. Rufus is a one in a million bobcat he has never met a human he does not like, he loves to be petted and comes running to you when he knows he has new people to meet and let them pet him.
So easy for us to go from one bobcat to taking in 3 mountain lions, and finding homes for 6 more. We have taken in Canadian Lynx, Siberian Lynx, European Lynx, African Servals, African Caracals.
We became Walk on the Wildside Exotic Feline Rescue and do not regret an part of the past 15 years. People need to understand these are not your average house cats their needs and temperament differ greatly.
We live in the mountains and my kids were raised spending time outside, and I am now raising grand kids here the same way. TV is limited and outdoors is not. We are surround by over 2.5 million acres of National Forest with deer,coyotes, bear, Bald Eagles, Hawks, wild boar, racoons, skunk, snakes , bobcat, mountain lions and the list goes on, all living with us her in our woods 🙂
It takes a special person like Dee to commit yourself to the animals, not every one has what it takes, total dedication 24/7 no vacations you don’t walk away from what you took responsibility for so many have and that is why there are places like mine that take in the no longer wanted…because they did not turn out to be the great pet they thought it would be.
I started to breed Highlander Cats about 8 years ago and through the sales of kittens the profit goes to the rescue for the exotics. So Wild at Heart Highlanders is the main source of funds for Walk on The Wildside Exotic Feline Rescue
My advice to anyone thinking about getting an exotic for a pet do your homework well before you do anything.
Thanks Donna. Great comment. Very instructive and a reality check for people who think keeping wild cats as pets is fun and easy because they like “exotic cats”.
Just goes to show how one little rescue can spiral into something big.
PS. This pic shows a bigger version of my baby bobcat.
Thanks. The black stripes on the legs were noticeable to me, but I forgot to mention.
So sweet, so beautiful.
Wow, thank you for sharing this story Dee. What a wonderful little ten year old you were. Seems you are still that person, taking in strays and wild ones. You must have been fast, being able to grab that kitty.
Michael is right. It is a little part of Americana that has changed so much. I had many siblings as well. I spent a good deal of time playing in the canyons and walking in the woods as a little girl. No one thought a thing about it. It was just how things were.
Thanks for the glimpse Dee.
I was very good at snatching cats, as well as lizards, quickly.
As an adult, I really believe that the little baby was lost as opposed to the mama depositing him there. I was all over that area every day, and my scent was there. So, I don’t think mama took her baby there on purpose.
It was a simpler time.
There was no worry that I would be kidnapped or that poor old Herb might really be a serial killer.
The only mandatory requirements for us were that we come inside for supper and before dark.
Wow Dee what an amazing story. I wonder if the little one survived but I am guessing he probably didn’t. Thanks for sharing Dee – I try to spend the weekend with the cats so I’m a bit late commenting I know 🙂
I’m a little busy too starting vaccinations.
I’ll get a little free time mostly on weekends for a while/
I hope you had a great w/e with your cats.
I loved this story. It is very evocative of times passed, what seems to be a different era in American history. That is what I sense when I read it.
It seems to capture the essence of an aspect of American life.
It also confirms to me what I already knew that, Dee, loves animals and is always attracted to them.
Thank you, Dee, for sharing your experience which provides a little window on a part of American life that is probably lost.