Wild Animals/Cat attack?

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I've been researching large cats in Northeast Alabama because we have had some unusual things happening lately. First my pet cat was attacked. He was missing for a day and when I found him he couldn't pick himself up. He had no fur left on his belly or either side and had multiple puncture wounds and scratch marks all over. I thought a coyote had got him b/c we have a large pop. of them. I took him to the vet where he stayed a few days. The vet said he was attacked by a large cat and was very lucky to survive. The next week a neighbor we didn't know came to our house and showed us a picture of a large paw print beside his wifes foot (for comparison). The print was bigger than his wifes foot. He said that some of his chickens and a newborn calf had disappeared and he thinks this print belongs to the cat that is responsible. He called the Alabama Wildlife Management and The to report the incident. They laughed at him saying we do not have "large cats" here except maybe a overfed house cat. However if he did shoot an animal such as this he would be arrested b/c they are protected in Alabama. This made absolutely no sense to me. They either exist or they don't. I do remember last summer sitting in my livingroom watching TV and I began hearing a baby cry. I thought it was on my sons TV in the other room. The baby cry got louder and continued until my son and I met in the hallway asking each other the same question; where is the baby cry coming from, we don't have a baby. It was coming from outside and I chose to not venture out in the dark to investigate. We would hear this at least once a week for a while after that night. A man at my church said it was a bobcat mating call. I've not seen a bobcat, we only heard this sound. Then I remember in 1981 we lived about 20 miles from our present home. We lived in Hammondville, Alabama on my uncles Christmas Tree farm, isolated and very private. We frequently saw deer in our yard and would throw out leftovers for the animals. We had been there about a week and I was awaken by a lady screaming like she was being murdered. I jumped up to run outside to help her and my husband held the door preventing me from going out. He said it wasn't a person that it was a panther. He had seen it when he was up in his treestand in the woods beside our house. I was upset that he hadn't told me about this but his reasoning was he didn't want to worry me. He said if we leave them alone they will leave us alone. I never seemed to get use to that screaming it sounded so real. I always felt that I needed to help whoever was screaming. We never found anyone injured in the daylight so I resigned to trust my husbands explanation. I guess my delima now is finding out what kind of "Cats" we have around here and why the local Game Warden and Wildlife Management deny their existence, and are we safe outside at night, and are my animals safe outside. I keep my cat inside at night now but he really wants to be outside. I'm afraid to leave him out.. Can NEone give me information that will help me find out what is out there in the dark?

Answer
Dear Debs

Thank you for your question and photographs. I'm sorry to hear about your pet cat and I hope it recovers fully. I also wish to thank the authors of the websites I used.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mammals_of_Alabama#Carnivores shows the carnivores living in Alabama. The only member of the cat family existing there is the bobcat, which supports the man at the church who said he heard a bobcat. http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/bobcats.html says that bobcats may prey on small dogs and cats at night and may attack cocker-spaniel-size dogs. The website and http://www.dfwwildlife.org/bobcat.html advise people to keep dogs and cats indoors, especially from dusk to dawn. http://www.kgw.com/news/Bobcat-blamed-for-attacking-cat-near-Forest-Park-2064990 concerns an alleged bobcat attack on a domestic cat.

If you put bobcat and cat into Google, you will get several more accounts of bobcats attacking cats. This does not prove that your cat was attacked by a bobcat, but it does seem the most likely option. http://www.bear-tracker.com/bobcat.html shows the pawprints of a bobcat, so you can compare them with the prints you saw.

I hope this helps

All the best

Jonathan  

Wild Animals

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Jonathan Wright

Expertise

I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.

Experience

I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

Organizations
WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Publications
Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

Education/Credentials
BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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