We decided to take advantage of one of the last double digit temperature days and visit the Sonoran Desert Museum. This place has a very diverse range of exhibits and a nice mix of indoor and outdoor displays. There was a decent amount of shade over the outdoor walking areas, critical under the desert sun.
It was siesta time and lots of the animals were sleeping in shady nooks and crannies. Here is a bobcat snoozing away.
These three Bighorn Sheep were awake.
There is a hummingbird aviary.
Even an aquarium! Here are some garden eels, kinda creepy.
The Miami Heat were playing the Cleveland Cavaliers and D. Wade was poised to hit his twenty thousandth point when I heard a soft knock on the front storm door. I had left the inner door open so there was no pretending I wasn’t home. With a sigh I hit pause and went to the door. I was expecting one of my son’s friends but instead I saw my neighbor from across the street. It took me a minute to remember his name. Billy? Timmy? No, Bobby, that was it. Even though it was a Saturday evening he was still in his military uniform.
I noticed he looked a little pale and he asked me to come take a look at something in his backyard. As we walked across the street he explained how he lets his cat out in the fenced in backyard for a few minutes when he first gets home from work. The cats rolls around in the gravel and then explores a bit. This evening the cat was hissing and acting strange about something in a corner of the yard. When Bobby went to check he saw some fur and a partially dirt covered cat. The cat was a tabby that looked like his own. Bobby thought it might belong to the house two doors down but when he knocked no one was home.
I peered cautiously toward the back corner. Yup, a half eaten, half buried cat with a bunch of fur lying around met my eyes. Bobby and I began to speculate what had gotten it. Coyotes were around but seldom (if ever) seen in our small, cinderblock walled yards. “Bobcat,” I said with authority. We had seen bobcats frequently in our neighborhood. Mountain lions were also reported to be nearby but I had never seen one. My guess is a mountain lion would have eaten much more of the cat in one go. Bobby agreed. Covering it with dirt to come back for more later was a cat behavior.
“So the bobcat will be back?” Bobby half asked, half stated. He looked a little unsettled at the idea and glanced around. Dusk was settling in and the corner of the yard was heavily shadowed. “You keep your cat indoors, he will be fine,” I told Bobby. ” Do you have a shovel?” I asked. Bobby thought a second and then said no. “I have one in the garage, I’ll be right back,” I told him. “I’ll grab some garbage bags and meet you back here,” said Bobby.
On my way to the garage I ran into Bobby’s next door neighbors, Ashley and Jason, and told them about the cat. They weren’t surprised as right after they had moved in two years ago they also lost their cat to a bobcat, in the same corner, just on the other side of the wall.
“I think the bobcat likes to hang out on top of the wall back there because it is sheltered and shaded by an orange tree,” said Jason.
I found my shovel and met Bobby in his backyard. It was getting rather dark now and I hoped the buried part of the cat wouldn’t be too gross or too easy to see in the gathering gloom. Bobby took the shovel and I held open the bag. Then Bobby said wait and took a few pictures to show the neighbor.
We stood there a few moments in a respectful silence, listening to the quiet of the gathering evening. We heard the neighbors leave and I crouched down holding the bag open as wide as I could as Bobby attempted to get the shovel completely under the cat.
And then we heard it, a low, menacing, hissing growl. I looked at the dead cat in confusion and then up at Bobby. He was looking at the dead cat too. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash of movement and a small bobcat launched itself at Bobby. Instinctively Bobby turned and the bobcat landed on his upper left back and shoulder. Bobby gave a surprised yelp and dropped the shovel which I picked up. I used the handle end to jab at the bobcat. I was afraid to take a swing, sure I would hit Bobby in the head.
During this time Bobby and I had been strangely quite but now I started muttering “oh shit oh shit oh shit”. With a low roar I whacked the cat over the head and then turned the handle to wedge it under it’s front paws and pry it off Bobby. With a grunt of effort the cat went flying backwards. It headed for the open gate, weaving and limping but moving fast.
Bobby and I looked at each other in stunned disbelief. Had that really just happened? I asked Bobby if he was hurt. A quick check showed the heavy material of his uniform shirt had protected him from the worst of the cat’s claws. Just a few pinpricks of blood showed on his t-shirt. Without another word we quickly cleared up the remains of the cat and headed into our respective homes. I was ready to see Dwayne Wade hit his 20,000th point.
(The beginning part of the story is true, however I am glad to report that we were not actually attacked by a bobcat!)