Big Cat Identity Kerfluffles

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Lynx loose in the house!

That’s a Lynx in the picture at about 7 months old. Our household domesticated cat named Lynx, that is.

It’s spring, and animals are showing up on game cameras. I’ve always seen facebook discussions of just which species of wild cats are out there. Many people claim to have actually seen cougars when out in the wild. There’s never been a consensus of opinion; persons working in professional wildlife capacities always say these sightings are mistaken identity – maybe bobcats or large dogs – and there are no cougars in Alabama.

Lynx, pictured here during last year’s run on tp; he wants everyone to know that a bobcat actually is a lynx.

Boisterous young Lynx!

In one chapter of Catwoods, I looked into these questions. I cited a paper by an expert in the state whose opinion was, no cougars are present here. Even with the wide range of statements, when I wrote the book I never thought this would turn into a controversy. Don’t serious investigators, or even savvy casual observers, search for, weigh, and consider any and all data? I tried to paint with a broad brush.

That chapter was sparked by an encounter that my husband and I had with an unknown animal in the night. We are two highly observant and thoughtful persons who respect science and I did honestly state our opinions, that there might have been a cougar out there. I relayed experiences of other credible persons in the state who had reported actually seeing a cougar. Gulp! I agreed that this would have been a passerby or escaped captive and that there are no breeding populations. And I didn’t say any of us are infallible. I’ve read online discussions of “What kind of cat was that?” for years but only recently did I see one become sort of heated. Gulp again.

I was striving for scientific accuracy as much as possible in the book, but I also included observational history of my own, and some from others. So that might be called informal and/or anecdotal evidence, as I’m not a biologist. I don’t usually speak in absolutes because there is always more data out there to be added in the future, and, there’s always research, and articles, that I just never encountered when researching for the book. Due to the illness which began before I wrote it, I was not able to get out to go do onsite library research, or to talk to people.

Catwoods is essentially nonfiction, although there are brief breakthroughs of fiction when I “voice” the cats. I had actually seen that done in other nonfiction cat narratives. I did always try to base any statements I invented for the cats on actual cat behaviors known to science.

So y’all, the book is a memoir, mostly about smaller wild felines, the somewhat domesticated kind we call housecats. I present facts and state honest opinions. Readers are welcome to form their own conclusions.

On a lighter note regarding mistaken identity, if you looked across a field one hazy evening and saw that guy in the pictures above . . .  Though he doesn’t look quite so lynxie now that he’s older. Getting the book helps us support wraithes, er waifs, like the Lynx kitty above.

And this guy! A moody older picture of Boss:

Awww, wistful Boss!

And, all our other kitties and their feral elders too. I just wanted to do something quick and not post everyone’s pictures this time. I hope the other kitties won’t mind. Gulp!

I’m still using older pictures. We’re still trying to arrange more picture space so I can start using more recent pictures. With multiple items on the to-do list it’s going to take awhile.

Lynx to get the book are at the upper right for Amazon, and on the Order the MUSE Award-winning Catwoods Book online page which goes direct to Borgo Publishing.

About Leah

I'm Leah T. Alford, a writer fascinated by the natural world and animals, especially cats.
This entry was posted in Book topics, Cats, Nature and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

63 Responses to Big Cat Identity Kerfluffles

  1. Beautiful pics, stunning kitties! We’ve just subscribed so we don’t miss any new posts! Happy Wednesday fluffies! XX

    • Leah says:

      The kitties and I thank you Basil, we are glad you like our posts! And thank you for subscribing, we will try to subscribe to your posts also! XX

  2. chattykerry says:

    I love Lynx! We have bobcats and possibly cougars in the more forested areas. All I want are BEARS!

    • Leah says:

      Lynx are cool, all right! I’m not so sure I’d want to have bears right around us, though! They are marvelous but scary!

  3. Excellent blog Leah! Both Lynx and Boss are proper Sweetie though! I enjoyed reading it. Keep up the excellent work! Saludos!

  4. Lavinia Ross says:

    Those are beautiful photos, Leah. Lynx has some very striking markings!

    • Leah says:

      Thanks Lavinia, the kitties and I appreciate it! Lynx does indeed have some very strong tabby markings!

  5. You take such beautiful photos of your kitties! We always enjoy them.

  6. Your cats are gorgeous! And Lynx does look like a lynx! Boss is a total cutie!
    I read above about your pictures and storage. I bought an external 2 terabyte hard drive for storing my pictures (they are only around $50). I did not want to store them “in the cloud” and I wanted something that was easily accessible and that would still be handy when (and if) my laptop crashes. Which did happen last spring and I was ever so grateful I had backed up my photos (and my business files).

    • Leah says:

      The kitties and I thank you so much! Purrs and Meows!
      I’m so glad you had everything backed up before the crash! We have backed up everything to external drives, and I don’t want to use a “cloud” either. But, the computer is full and can’t hold any more pictures, so I’m using older ones sparingly instead of the “latest”. Since the computer is old we’re going to switch me to another one with hopefully, more space. With our long to-do list, that’s going to take some time.

  7. Your Lynx is a handsome dude! As is Boss of course.
    Sometime ago there was a lot of talking about cougar sightings here in SW Michigan…so everyone was warned to keep their pets inside or with them outdoors…never saw one. Then there was talk about a bobcat (Lynx)…same issue. I think we here have more to worry about such as raptors snagging a small dog or a kitty…
    Then there was a lot of talk about bears…and yes there really were two of them!! LOL!

    Last night we had a coon somehow got into our fenced yard, and my dogs both worked hard to rid us of it…Dalton the smaller and way more timid pup, killed it outright. Poor little rascal had no idea what he was in for when he trespassed…sigh…

    • Leah says:

      Boss and Lynx and I thank you, we appreciate it!
      Michigan is one of the state where I did see that the Dept. of Natural Resources says there is a small population of cougars. But, they are elusive animals and likely go mostly unseen even when they are really there. Bobcats do prey on domestic cats, and raptors are seriously dangerous! I’ve heard of them diving at cats.
      And yikes, bears! I’ve heard of those being in Michigan before too.
      It’s so sad about the little raccoon but it really is hard to keep them away, they can get past just about any barriers.

  8. Pam Lazos says:

    One of my cats had tufts at the top of his ears which the vet told me meant he had some lynx in him, Leah. He was a beauty. 😘

    • Leah says:

      Oh I bet that was a beautiful cat, Pam! There are some people who claim to have bobcat/domestic hybrids and there are others who question the validity of those claims. The thinking is that in the wild bobcats would regard domestic cats as prey. It’s hard to say though as breeders have successfully produced domestic cat breeds via crosses with other medium and small wildcats. I think our Lynx, who came from city ferals, is a mix of Persian or Maine Coon Cat with alley cat.

  9. meowmeowmans says:

    Lynx and Boss are both so handsome. We have bobcats/lynx here in Connecticut, but we have also had incidences where people reported seeing one, only to have it be a large domesticated kitty. I also grew up in Southern California, and cougars/mountain lions would be sighted from time to time. They are huge, and they can get around. All that to say, experts may be expert, but they aren’t always right. 😉

    • Leah says:

      Lynx and Boss and I thank you, meowmeowmans! Living in an area where cougars were seen with some frequency must have been exciting! Too exciting for me. As grand as they are, I’m actually glad we don’t have a frequent cougar presence here. We do have bobcats, and they’ve been seen and photographed not far away from us. But we’ve never seen any in the wild. We did find some scats once.

  10. Brian says:

    It happens here too. People report seeing a critter and “the experts” weigh in and say no way, not in this neck of the woods. Of course we’re way sure on experts on much around here.

    • Leah says:

      Experts here are sure like that too, there’s one fb page where it’s against the rules to discuss cougars. I can understand why a public official wants strong photographic evidence before saying there’s a large, powerful animal around, but I don’t think they should dismiss every sighting as a mistake. I don’t think you’d always get a photo in a quick encounter with a wild animal.

  11. I used to live in Colorado and even though I’ve never seen a big cat, I did hear one calling at night near my house. It was kind of a repeated “Wow” sound. Maybe a cougar?

    • Leah says:

      That certainly sounds like it could be the cougar sounds on some of the youtube videos I’ve listened to!

  12. Caren says:

    LOVE your photos!

  13. I guess you will just have to wonder what the mysterious animal was. One year probably in the 80’s I walked down a road in Mt Rainier National Park and very close by me heard an animal cry or noise. It sounded similar to the sounds supposedly supposed to be Bigfoot, but I did not see the animal, but quick-stepped away fast as it could have been a big cat. To this day I wear baseball hats with Bigfoot on them and when asked, tell of my encounter. I remember when. . .

  14. Dearest Leah,
    Well, don’t let any nitpicker comment or argument bother you! They’re not deserving your time.
    You’ve done an excellent job in informing and educating your readers. My husband, a scientific writer himself, complimented you on that many times.
    Right now I do have your book with me, at the cabin in east Tennessee where we arrived yesterday after my solo drive with husband Pieter. Now it is some relaxing time and for reading and such!
    Big hugs, and our kitties have to make do with the Belgian born cat-sitter as she feeds them mornings and evenings. They will miss the talking, the cuddles, lapt time and brushies and noon snack time… But I sure will make up for that!

    • Leah says:

      I’m glad you have a good cat sitter for your kitties while away; it’s a tremendous relief to know the kitties are well taken care of!
      Thank you for you kind words on my work, it means a lot and I do appreciate it! I did try to make the book as scientifically sound as I could while still including some fanciful and fun elements too at times.
      I didn’t comment myself on the particular online discussion that sparked this post. I avoid online disagreements because I don’t have the stamina for them now, and also because they easily turn way too acrimonious. And, I actually understand that those working in official capacities have to be guarded and not make statements about animals that aren’t proven with solid evidence, like photos. I just thought they were sort of rude about it, this time.
      And, I was also sort of getting my ducks in a row in case my book should come to the attention of such a person, I’d be somewhat ready for any possible disagreements.

  15. icelandpenny says:

    I can see, and I appreciate, the scrupulous care you take in your descriptions and statements — and I can also appreciate your “gulp!” at some of the overheated reactions that even the most careful of statements can attract. Your Lynx is one handsome guy, and well named.

    • Leah says:

      Lynx and I thank you for all your kind words, Penny. Lynx loves to hear that he’s handsome! Oh yeah, I was so surprised when I found out that a certain fb page has a rule saying, no discussion of cougars . . .

  16. Lulu: “Hi Bob! Nice to see you!”
    Charlee: “No, that’s Lynx, Lulu. Not Bob.”
    Lulu: “But a Bob Cat is a Lynx, right? So a Lynx is also a Bob Cat? So Lynx is Bob, right?”
    Charlee: “Not Bob Cat. Bobcat. All one word. Not a proper name.”
    Lulu: “But what about Bobcat Goldthwaite?”
    Charlee: “That’s a human. Not a cat. Not relevant to this discussion.”
    Chaplin: “Just give it up, Charlee. The ways of cats are inscrutable to dogs.”

    • Leah says:

      Ahahahha, Lynx of the long tail waves to Lulu and thanks her for the greeting! Even though Charlee and Chaplin are right, he is not a bobtailed kitty like a bobcat and an actual lynx would be.

  17. catscue says:

    What a beauty you are Lynx! I had no idea a Bobcat and a Lynx were the same thing, thanks!

    • Leah says:

      Lynx and I thank you, catscue! I was surprised too when I first found out that the bobcat is a member of the lynx family. According to what I’ve read, the Eurasian Lynx crossed the Bering Straight, went south, and became the bobcat. Later on, a group of Eurasian Lynx crossed the Bering Straight a second time, went into Canada, and became the Canadian Lynx.

  18. Correne says:

    Lynx and Boss are beautiful kitties!

  19. I’ve heard quite a bit of debate about wild cats … mountain lions, cougars, bobcats … state natural resource departments tend to be behind in recognizing new visitors to the area. It took over 2 years for Missouri to finally concede mountain lions were showing up in [far] suburban St. Louis. I’ve heard of similar things happening in Nebraska as well (State Natural Resources won’t listen and insist whatever wild cat is not there). From what I understand, the expansion in the territory is due to the population and scarcity of resources – with big cats moving farther out of their natural territory for food – mates – and personal territory. I have no idea if this is accurate – but it makes a lot of sense from what we know about our [somewhat] domesticated feline companions.

    • Leah says:

      That does make sense about cougars expanding their territories! And you are right about the state departments showing reluctance to acknowledge the wild cats, especially the larger ones. They did confirm some cougars in Tennessee in 2015 and 2016; they were thought to have wandered over from areas farther west. Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources apparently does say there is a small population in that state. (and there’s a song, Panther in Michigan, by Mike Smith). I can understand why anyone in an official capacity doesn’t want to announce the presence of large cats without some really solid evidence, since that could cause people to panic. But I also think that not everyone who reports a cougar sighting that happened too fast to get a photo is necessarily wrong.

  20. Platypus Man says:

    Fascinating. I’ve just asked my wife to buy me Catwoods for Christmas 🙂. Only 7 months to wait! 🙁

    • Leah says:

      Thank you Platypus Man, for your kind words and your interest in my book! Sadly, the publisher has some kind of special arrangement with Amazon and is a third party seller, Borgo Publishing, there, and last I heard she was only shipping out of the US only by special arrangement. Her email to arrange that is easty@ernest& If that doesn’t work out let me know, I will try to arrange something else. I am out of the books myself but I hope to get a new supply, then maybe I could arrange something. Also, I’m trying to make it available on Kindle, which will take awhile but surely will be done before Christmas. That would work anywhere as long as you have a Kindle. I prefer real books myself but finally caved and started using a Kindle due to the convenience.
      I’m really sorry that this is the way it’s being done. I think it’s different if books are sold directly through Amazon, they can be shipped to any country? I’m not sure as I’m new to all this. Another UK person asked me about getting a copy and I told her to get in touch with Borgo, but I haven’t heard anything since.
      Let me know what you find out here in the comments section, and thanks again!

      • Platypus Man says:

        Thank you, Leah. Amazon UK listed one copy available over here, but it’s not available any more as it’s now on the way to Platypus Towers! Christmas is coming early 🙂.
        Regarding Kindle, I have one (an Amazon Fire to be precise, second hand, with a cracked screen, gifted from my long-suffering godson in an attempt to drag me, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century) but I’ve never used it to read an eBook. As a retired professional librarian with 40 years experience under my belt I have strong views about eBooks…they clearly have their place, but not here at Platypus Towers! I sometimes fantasise about launching a protest movement, the Campaign for Real Books (CamReBo), but that would just waste valuable reading time.
        I’m looking forward to reading all about your adventures with the kitties. Best wishes to you.

        PS As I finished typing this, visiting cat Milky Bar leapt over the fence and swaggered through our garden. He says “hi, good mornin’ y’all” to all his American cousins.

        • Leah says:

          I’m so glad you were able to find a copy! Thank you for getting it and I hope you enjoy!
          I agree with everything you say about real books vs. ebooks but we just reached a point where time to go to the library is hard to find and finding space for the book herd is challenging too.
          All our cats send meows and greetings to Milky Bar!

  21. 15andmeowing says:

    Lynx and Boss are adorable. XO

  22. Timothy Price says:

    I love your kitties and your book.

    • Leah says:

      The kitties and I thank you so much, Tim, we appreciate it! I’m happy you enjoy both kitties and book!

  23. What beautiful kitty Lynx is! Interesting post – thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Leah says:

      Lynx and I thank you Lynette, he’s happy you think he’s beautiful – and I agree – and I’m happy you enjoyed the post!

  24. Pastor Cathy says:

    This is Tiggar. She comes every evening when her stomach says. She sits at the garden space several feet from my entrance.staring a guilt game waiting for me to break. My neighbor is slow on her feet so I am weening her. The competition tween the 2 human and cat is alive.

    • Leah says:

      Interesting . . . I don’t see the picture of the kitty but I assume you and your neighbor are both feeding her? That’s very nice of you both!
      Cathy would you like for your name, when clicked, to go to your wordpress blog rather than just to wordpress? You can get help doing that by clicking on “Help & Support” on your Dashboard. I like to make sure any links on my site go to the right places, that’s why I’m pointing this out.

  25. John says:

    Good reading, Leah! Lynx is a beautiful cat as is Boss. I think you have other cats too. Are you out of storage space for your blog? If so, they can be hosted elsewhere and linked, or ‘upgrade’ as WP calls it to the Business plan as I had to.

    • Leah says:

      Thanks John, I’m glad you liked it! We do have other cats, I just wanted to do something quick instead of posting everyone’s picture this time. Not going to tell the others that, LOL. I’m out of space on the computer, not the blog, and I don’t want to use a “cloud”. We’re trying to make arrangements and it’s taking a long time because we have a lot going on, many other things we need to take care of now.

      • John says:

        I understand, your ‘real’ life always comes first. I use the Cloud as well as an external SSD to backup my stuff.

        • Leah says:

          Interesting! BTW after your comment I thought that someone might think we didn’t still have all our same kitties so I edited to make it clear that we do! Glad you caused me to think about that!

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