Along for the ride:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Here Kitty, Kitty...

One of my neighbors took this photo in the State Park, just up the hill from us. The trails are steep and shaded by chestnut trees, until you reach the top where the dry hilltop meadowland discloses a view from San Jose to San Francisco, all along the bay. There are signs warning "You are Now Entering Mountain Lion Territory. Beware!" I suppose this young cougar couldn't read yet, because he was down by the reservoir, on the wrong side of the signs.
I used to walk alone on these paths in the early morning hours, appreciating the solitude, although sad that my dog is now too old to keep me company. One day I reached the higher levels and saw the signs. I discovered how unwittingly foolhardy I was being. The quiet shadows of the path I had so enjoyed became a possible threat. I stopped presenting myself as a potential free lunch and curtailed my solo hikes in this park.
I am, nonetheless, desperately jealous of my neighbor's good fortune in encountering this magnificent predator in it's natural habitat.


  1. Wow!!! On two counts. First the picture is wonderful and what a beautiful cat! Second, that you have been out there hiking in its territory. Scary, I'm afraid, even if he is young.

    I would think a dog at your side would be good protection. In the meantime, please do be careful. It's hard to tell what might provoke an attack, although I'm guessing most of the time cougars would rather avoid humans. *shiver*

    I love the big cats, but I would never want to meet one face to face in an uncontrolled situation. Please, please be careful.

  2. I hope that was taken with a big zoom lens!

  3. He looks like a Bob Cat...don't know if that's one word or not.

    Keep the dogs close...Are the fires herding critters your way?

  4. Jean, I have revised my habits and walk in more inhabited areas for now. I am actually struggling big-time with scheduling issues. My foster dogs are still with me (3 months now) and they have taken up about two hours of my day for serious exercise and other needs. I am getting up even earlier and have not blogged or watched TV much lately. I promise not to volunteer for anything else this year.
    eejit, the scariest thing is that I believe it was a cell phone picture.
    @eloh, I agree that at first look I also thought bobcat. I've met a couple of those before too. I have additional photos and made double sure. He has a long tail and the spots are because he is a young mountain lion. His ears aren't tufted enough for a bobcat. I walked towards a bobcat in a field one evening and he took steps towards me rather than away. Me backing away slowly. I got the message.

  5. I WAS going to vote for Bobcat, but now I'll just slink away and sulk in my ignorance.

  6. take a mule!.. I think there's a video on you-tube (i know!)... a mountain lion attacks two people out on mules. The mule shakes it off and them proceeds to trample it to death, no doubt miffed in it's muley way, that it's work had been extended... The people's dog's had run off!
    The photo is beautiful, would love to have wild-life bigger than badgers to look for :-D
    (that are carnivores...)

  7. Fantastic shot of a marvelous cat.

    I've been in a state of worry over the various wildlife sanctuaries in harm's way of the LA fires. This article discusses the one run by Tippi Hedren and another wildlife sanctuary nearby.

    Interesting tidbit of news about mules by the watercats!

  8. Wow.. what a beautiful cat. I love cats although I wouldn't want to meet this particular one out walking!!

  9. Speaking of "mules" and "donkeys" in the south they are used as protection and run with livestock.

    Donkeys hate dogs, and will protect horses, goats etc from coyote and dog attacks.

    Mules are known cougar killers.

    These Hillbillys are pretty good at finding a way to get something done on the cheap.

  10. anonymous, it looks like a very bobcatty cougar, doesn't it?
    watercats, thanks for the tip, just what I need, a mule!
    Lydia,I have heard past stories of all kinds of animals being transported to "staging areas" in trucks, trailers, crates,whatever, to be ready in case they have to move quickly. They do have contingency plans in place and employees, volunteers who stay by the animals. Traumatic for all.
    Di, my foster dogs could do with meeting a cat to be respected, throw in a giant squirrel too, for training purposes.
    @eloh,I like the sound of that.

  11. Gorgeous pic of a very scary kitty. I'd be just the sort of blithe fool that would go wandering into uber-kitty's territoy, never to be seen again LOL.

  12. Crikey, you live in mountain lion country? It's a brilliant shot.

    (you still remember 'here, kitty, kitty'? who was it who said it on his show? I think he's still around.)

  13. Argent, it would be worth it to have an excuse to use "blithely" in a sentence.
    Friko, It is hard to explain the country aspect of living here. We are between two major cities. There are tons of people, the headquarters of Apple Computers is just one example of a local business, and yet there is a lot of untouched open space. I tend to remark, appreciate and write about the natural aspects around me. I have yet to visit the Tech Museum etc. Part two of your comment, I don't remember specifically the here, kitty, kitty source. Sorry.

  14. Interesting how seeing a sign like that can send one senses into a high state of vigilance. I was out in Zion National Park in the high backcountry last year for a short trip. Near a spring where canteens could be filled there was a sign warning people to beware of mountain lions, and just a little farther along the trail there was a pile of bones of some good sized animal. I was watching every tree shadow and embankment and the trail behind us very carefully for the rest of the day...