Tuesday, September 8, 2009


There we were, walking along by the Scenic Overlook in town, when along the back edge, where the grass meets the unmowed verge, a large buffy-orange feline with a long, strong tail was trotting.

The first thing that went through my mind was "Cougar!"

Then reality set in.

"That's too small to be a cougar."

Sure enough, it was merely a house cat, albeit, a rather large housecat.

It is easy to see how people can confuse common household animals for rare wildlife, especially when these people have never seen real wildlife in real situations.

Black panthers (or "painters," as they are called where I grew up) often turn out to be black house cats, or even fishers. And cougars are often (very large) house cats, too. Harmless milk snakes are transformed into venomous rattlers or copperheads.

Still, it can be fun to be caught up in the moment and let one's imagine run rampant for even a few, brief seconds.


  1. You had me going there for a moment. Last week I was at National Conservation Training Center and learned that the Lion is more related to house cats than any of the other wild cats. Must be in the genes because that one sure looked like a cougar.

  2. It is amazing what we can "see" when we want to! We've had a report recently of a large feline in the vicinity...who knows? Maybe, just maybe...

  3. In the semi-rural towns and suburbs around Toronto, it's always wolves. People look out their window and see a WOLF in the backyard and phone the police. Sometimes it even makes the local newspaper. WOLF sighting. It's actually a coyote, shy critters who are able to thrive at the fringes of human habitations. We exterminated all the wolves a long time ago.

  4. Squirrel - Now we know why eye witness testimonies are not all that reliable! I think we often see what we expect to see (or not see, as is the case often with me, which explains why I end up with a lot of missing items at home).

    Barefootheart - we get a good number of "wolf" sightings here, too, and there is no convincing folks otherwise.

  5. Cute. I watched a tomcat stalking ducks on the Shenandoah. I'm sure he felt as fierce as a cougar or lion.

  6. My daughter's friend saw a glimpse of real live cougar recently across a lake at a high elevation in Rocky Mountain National Park. She was inspired to attempt a painting of what she saw. If I can get her permission I'll post it on my blog.

  7. Trillium - I look forward to seeing your daughter's painting!