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Cheshire cat: Why one Northampton yard is a wild kingdom of its own

— Debra Johnson believes the backyard of her Northampton home must be a popular route for wildlife traveling between Fitzgerald Lake and the woods that surrounds her Coles Meadow Road home.

“It’s “Wild Kingdom” passing by,” she said. Bears and wild turkeys are frequent visitors, she said.

So she wasn’t that surprised when she spotted a bobcat about a month ago sitting on a back hill among the rocks of her yard’s perennial garden.

“He blended in so well, I looked and then looked again,” said Johnson.

Since then, he’s returned several times, in search of, she thinks, a quick meal. “We have a lot of squirrels.”

Bobcats, on average, weigh about 22 pounds, she said, so there’s no mistaking this visitor for a domesticated cat. “He’s much bigger than a house cat.” His bob tail also makes him easy to identify, as well as what looks like eyes on the backs of his ears, she said.

While the bobcat is wary of anyone getting too close, it has sat still while she’s snapped photographs of it, some 20 of them. “The pictures don’t do justice to how beautiful this cat is,” she said.

He sits in the sun and cleans himself, she said, and sometimes hangs around the backyard birdfeeders.

“There’s birds all around him — almost on his head,” she said, but he ignores them. “He’s looking for something bigger for his belly.”

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