The kids were eating breakfast this morning around 6:40 when Grady frantically came to find me. "There's a coyote in our yard!" I ran and got the camera and zoomed in and said, "That's not a coyote, it's a cat."
Grady: "It's too big to be a cat."
Me: "I think you're right."
The animal was messing around in the fringes of our wetlands and then disappeared. I was bummed because I hadn't gotten a good photo to identify it.
Two minutes later, it emerged and walked down our neighbor's driveway. I told the kids to stay inside while I ran out and tried to get a close up. I was blown away when I finally got a good look at it.
It was so big for a cat and so wild looking. He stared me down with that icy gaze for about 30 seconds. When I moved a bit closer, he slinked away.
Only to turn around majestically:
I quickly posted these on my Flickr page with a WHAT IS IT? tag and e-mailed it to my family. I called my wife who had already left for work and she said a client of hers lives in a neighboring town and has a problem with fisher cats. I Googled fisher cats and saw they are dark brown and badger-like in appearance. Definitelly not the same as the beautiful creature I had just photographed.
A couple of hours later, my dad e-mailed me with some information a colleague of his passed his way. Turns out there is a breed of cat called a Chausie. It is a cross-breed of a domestic cat and a wild cat. Get this -- they act like dogs. They are loyal, loving, attentive, they come when called, they fetch, they like showers, and they even love smaller cats, dogs and kids.
First generation kittens are classifed as F1. Given an F1 looks like this monster......I'd estimate our local one to be an F3. Its head is kind of small, but its body is very puma-like.
We had new neighbors move in across the street and I'm guessing this is theirs. Our house has several acres of wetlands before the street, so considering Chausies love reeded landscapes, he probably thinks he moved to heaven. Our wetlands are loaded with snakes, frogs, birds, even some ducks now and then.
I hope he continues coming around because now that I know they are amicable, I'm going to try to befriend him.
UPDATE: The cat does not belong to the new neighbor, but he said he has seen it twice emerging from the wetlands across from his house (our wetlands), so I have renewed hope we'll run into him again.