Posts Tagged ‘Lewis Carroll’

Smiling Cats Wish me Merry Christmas

December 25, 2010

My suburban neighborhood backs up against some wilderness areas that are protected by the Federal government. We have an abundance of wildlife here – owls, hawks, eagles, beavers, coyotes, armadillos, snakes (some poisonous), possums, field mice, foxes, bobcats, and who knows what else – a small ecosystem. Once in a while, I cross paths unexpectedly with an animal, and it is a treat for me to see this wildlife up close.

The other day, I was walking in a small canyon that my HOA maintains to assess the ongoing maintenance requirements when I heard a noise behind me.  I turned to see a line of six bobcats standing cautiously side by side about ten feet away from me watching my every move. The largest of the cats stood a bit taller than two feet up to the shoulder. I have seen these cats several times before – once I saw two in my back yard. My neighbors ask me now and then if the bobcats, in particular, are dangerous… I usually caution that if you keep your distance and take little notice of them, they will do the same. Here, though, I was in their habitat, and they were close enough for me to see that one had a severe cut over one eye, and another had a foot it was favoring. These cats were a family unit – two large cats and four small ones. I wondered right then whether my advise was sound!

And just as I was stepping back a few feet slowly, they started to walk toward me and past me in a line with a large cat in front and the other large cat at the end. All were smiling at me as they walked past. My brain made a fleeting association for the first cat with the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland. The smallest cat approached within about four feet of me, and then got quickly back in line. I half expected the last cat to wish me a Merry Christmas as it passed me! Funny what you think of during an unexpected experience…

So, why were all the cats smiling? I wished I had my camera with me, because it would have been a terrific photograph. Well, I know why they smiled – they were exposing their olfactory glands above their side teeth to taste the air – to taste me – to taste the molecules that my body gives to the air. I know cats – I have had cats all my life. I wonder if these bobcats tasted my own cats, too, as they smiled walking past me and out across the street.

Perhaps such an experience inspired the Cheshire cat for Mr. Carroll.

Merry Christmas everyone (meow)!

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