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Stalking alone

Hear and attend and listen; for this befell and behappened and became and was, O my Best Beloved, when the Tame animals were wild. … and they walked in the Wet Wild Woods by their wild lones. But the wildest of all the wild animals was the Cat. He walked by himself, and all places were alike to him.

Just So Stories, Rudyard Kipling

 

Wolves and other canines hunt in packs. Cats, in the main, prefer their own company. There are advantages to each. This magnificent buck, shown here napping in a soft bed

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after a light meal of sunflower seeds and cracked corn, was top dog deer around Flying Squirrel Hollow for several winters in succession until taken one midnight—following what was probably a mutually exhausting chase—by a loud pack of coyotes.

The victors apparently divided the spoils for private dining around the neighborhood, leaving this grisly souvenir near where the photo above was taken:

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A couple of decades prior, feral cats were a common sight in the area. Sometimes mangy, sometimes sleek, always distrustful of humans and clearly at home in their territory, they may contribute significantly to the decline of some songbirds hereabouts: while estimates are variable and controversial, it seems that at least several hundred million US birds are taken by feral and outdoor housecats. So, with due sympathy for the circumstances of pets forced to resume to a level of self-reliance against which they have been bred for several thousand years, not all mourn the recent confluence of the coyote and the cat.

Nonetheless, a few individuals survive, through greater wile, sharper senses or some other beneficial selection or adaptation. One such, seen for a few years in the area, is this confident but highly solitary individual:

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(Photos taken in haste, at extreme range and through windows that could use a wash.)

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With compassion for its victims, one may still respect and admire the hardy loner.