I was proud of myself last night. I finished up my computer game and got into bed at a fairly early hour. I nestled down and drifted off to the dreamworld where I cavorted with Lord Morpheus and Cain and Abel. *ahem*
Some time later, my wife crawled into bed and shook me awake. As I was shuffling off the last, clinging tendrils of sleep, she pulled my face over to hers so that she knew she had my full attention.
"I think I just a cougar," she informed me.
Now, being that it's me, my first question was "Did she have big tits?"
My wife, apparently frightened by the big cat that could have killed and eaten her, did not find this nearly as amusing as I did. Instead, she told me about how she pulled into the driveway and saw an animal stand up and bound away from the side yard. Now, we live in a fairly wooded area and we have a veritable shit-ton of deer in our yard on nearly a daily basis. It's not uncommon for a group of them to lay in the grass in our yard, especially at night. However, she swears it wasn't a deer because she got a good look at its haunches and its left shoulder area, as well as the profile of its head.
There were no tufts on the ears, the coat was a uniform, tawny color (no spots, striations or stripes), the head was feline, and--most importantly--it ran like a cat. Apparently, it bolted down the side yard, down to the stream that runs at the back of our property, and up the hill on the other side of the stream. At the top of the hill, the light popped on at the community pumphouse that provides water for the neighborhood.
Now, I'm definitely one to be skeptical in these situations. The only problem is, I've been watching shows and reading reports about how the cougar (or puma or panther or catamount or mountain lion...they're all the same animal) is making a move back east. They've been confirmed as far east as the Mississippi and up into Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan. Sightings have occurred in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and Tennessee, to name a few, but wildlife biologists--so called experts--refuse to acknowledge that these sightings are real. According to them, all these sightings are misidentified house cats.
However, more to my wife's credit and what makes me believe her, is this story from Chapel Hill...a scant 12 miles from my house. Not only that, but Sunday afternoon while out playing with the kids in my yard, I found a pile of...vomit...from some animal on the patio to my outbuilding. Being that we have raccoons, possum, dogs and cats in the yard all the time, I didn't think anything of it until last night. Now, I'm not sure what it was from (and...it was a big pile). I left it, hoping the rain would wash it away or something else would eat it. Finally, the show MonsterQuest did a piece on the Beast of Bladenboro, which has also set some precedence for the presence of a cougar in North Carolina.
This morning, I went outside to look for any evidence that it was there. I found--maybe--a partial print from where it was laying in the grass. I gave the side yard a cursory glance all the way down to the stream, but I couldn't find anything. Also--predictably--the puke was gone. I think later, when I get home, I'm going to do a little better search. Hopefully I can find something. It would be awesome to be the one to help prove that the cougar is making a resurgence in North Carolina.
As an amusing aside, when I went out this morning to check for signs of the cougar, I had the shit scared out of me by a cat running from behind my wife's car. It was a fat, orange tabby cat, and he/she laid down next to one of the pine trees in my yard and watched me...menacingly. I did go back inside and make sure that she didn't see an orange tabby, but she's certain that it had no stripes. Plus, the animal ran away. The tabby cat took a couple of steps and then--in catlike fashion--demanded attention, milk and cheezburgers now.
4 hours ago