When I was a young lad out on the farm my grandfather warned me to stay clear of the wild dogs. People from the city used to dump their unwanted pups along the roadsides out in the country. Soon those strays would begin to run in packs, and on occasion they would bring down a sheep or raid the chicken houses.

When I was a young lad out on the farm my grandfather warned me to stay clear of the wild dogs. People from the city used to dump their unwanted pups along the roadsides out in the country. Soon those strays would begin to run in packs, and on occasion they would bring down a sheep or raid the chicken houses.

Being the obedient child that I was back then, I took my grandfather’s advice about the wild dogs, but he never mentioned the kitty cats. I remember one summer there were two young kittens in the woods down below the house. I immediately made friends with them and enjoyed romping and playing with them day after day. The old mama cat was always upon the rock bluff above us and nonchalantly lay in the sun and acted as though she was paying no attention to us at all.

One day as I was heading back to the house, one of those kittens decided to tag along with me. It would bounce along beside me for awhile and then lay down like it was getting tired. So, I would pick it up and carry it for awhile until it began to squirm in my arms. I would put it back down on the ground, it would tag along some more, then I would carry it, this went on back and forth all the way to the house.

I knew my grandmother would be pleased that I brought home a new kitten because she was a cat lover and already had one that lived in the house and two or three that lived in the barn.

We were never allowed to feed the barn cats, because it was their job to keep the field mice out of the barn. She said if we fed them, then they would not chase the mice. But, the house cat always got fresh milk every evening and ate table scraps.

So, I came bounding in the kitchen door with my new kitten. Much to my surprise my grandmother was not at all pleased. In fact, she was horrified!

“My lands child, that’s a bobcat, the old mother cat will just tear you to pieces when she finds out you have her kitten,” she exclaimed.

“No she won’t,” I replied. “The mama cat just sits up there on the rock bluff and watches us play.”

I wasn’t about to win this argument though. She made my granddad march that kitten right back down to the woods where it came from. So, that day I learned an important lesson about wild cats and domestic cats. I also learned once again about wild dogs and domestic dogs. Wild animals do not make good pets and should be left in the wild, and domestic animals need to be kept restrained in the house or a fenced yard. Never the two should meet.

The Missouri woods have always abounded with bobcats, and as the urban sprawl continues to creep into their territory they can many times be seen on the edges of our society.

Bobcats range in color across the state from a pale tan, reddish brown, to a fluffy blue-gray with dark spots. A little larger than domestic cats, a full-grown bobcat stands 15 inches at his shoulder and can weigh from 15 to 25 pounds. Their stubby tail is only about 6 or 7 inches long.

For the most part they are harmless to us humans, as they are quite skittish and tend to hunt rabbits, squirrels and gophers instead of people. However, you would still be very wise to give them their distance.