The differences between Ki Ki (the last bobcat) and Stella (the ever present bane of my life) are staggering. They both came to me at about the same age (one to two weeks old). While Ki Ki was more laid back and had minimal hunting skills at 11 weeks, Stella has already made her first unassisted kill. (Granted the pigeon could not fly well, but it was more than half her size.)
Today I was watching her in the back yard. Believed to be more opportunistic hunters (waiting for prey to wander by), we had noticed, definite cat like stalking by Ki Ki, but bird kills were minimal. Stella however was sitting by the gate, hoping a pigeon would succumb to it’s obesity, and fall within her grasp.
It didn’t happen. Instead, she looked over at the feeder platform that sits on a three foot high fence post. As usual, it was filled with fat squirrels and a peacock or two. It was what she did next that blew me away.
She crouched down, ears erect and hopped like a rabbit over to the feeder, with her size and coloration, including the white tip on her tail, even I would have mistaken her for a cotton tail or hare. The other animals completely ignored her approach, where if she had crept in while in stalking mode, they would have. (Not that they would have moved, but remember these are fat, lazy squirrels , who don’t move unless you set off dynamite.
I thought how well this behavior would work in the wild. It has always been a mystery to me who a cat in the wild could travel her territory with a litter of kittens and keep them all fed. Stella’s hunting abilities explain that. Some of the kittens feed themselves and probably their slower siblings.
Rabbits are not exceptionally brilliant animals. They are probably the dumbest of prey animals. There are also lots and lots of them, especially in my yard. You will often see two or more feeding in the same area. They don’t have a particularly great sensory system either, except for their hearing.
Now picture a group of feeding rabbits, ears erect to hear any incoming predators. What looks like another rabbit and sounds like a rabbit, hops up to the group. They don’t pay much attention. All it has to do is wait for an unsuspecting rabbit to get close enough to pounce.
Nature is ingenious.
You go Stella. I could use a few less rabbits in my yard. When you are done with that, I have this chipmunk in the laundry room……