What Kuma Leaves Behind

Four years ago today we lost Kuma, our Maine Coon. He lived a short, full life over 18 months—from near-death abandonment; to adoption; to surgery removing nearly two-dozen hair ties; to being hit by a car; to roaming the neighborhood as the friendly but dominant male cat.

We don’t know what happened to our boy, although coyote kill is likeliest explanation. I hadn’t considered the risk, but there is a canyon close by and the females breed this time of year and come out looking to feed. So accustomed to dogs, an indoor/outdoor California cat wouldn’t necessarily perceive danger. On Jan. 31, 2012, city workers clearing brush in a canyon found Kuma’s collar, which IKEA cat has worn since.

Coyote Plunder
In some Western areas, cats make up a large portion of coyote diets—in Tuscon, Ariz., more than 40 percent—according to a study published in The Journal of Wildlife Management. You read rightly. Researchers Shannon Grubbs and Paul Krausma tagged and tracked coyotes in compiling this shocking figure. The larger predators killed cats in more than 50 percent of their encounters. Full synopsis.

Santa Clara County, Calif. offers a short primer: “Coyotes may find it easier to target small domestic pets, such as, cats and dogs, which are often found in yards or allowed to roam free. Domesticated pets are not accustomed to protecting themselves from predators”. Read the document for valuable advice for protecting your animals.

Keeping indoors our pets—Neko, who we adopted in March 2012, and Cali (my daughter’s cat)—goes against my Maine heritage. I want them to go freely inside and outside, but the dangers cars and coyotes pose (Kuma had encounters with both).are too great.

The coyote risk is considerably less during daylight hours. Four years ago, I broke with routine, letting Kuma out at 6 a.m. into darkness rather than the typical 7 a.m. I also didn’t accompany him into the back alley. He started howling to go out about two hours earlier, and that was unusual. I have often wondered if coyotes make some sound or emit an order that attracts prey. This month, and also last January, Neko has similarly paced and howled, but after dusk rather than before dawn.

Memory Lane
Recognizing no one will really care about my long-lost cat but me, I nevertheless present past posts. It’s convenient for me to have them in one place:

Kuma means bear in Japanese. He and I were constant companions in our apartment building’s courtyard where I often wrote news stories on my laptop. I have fond memories of the Maine Coon coming and going, slipping under the back gate. Even now I still look for him when walking up from the alley or along the street when returning home. I no longer work outdoors, because it unsettles the other cats, which want to come out, too.

Some January 15th in the near future, you won’t see a post remembering our Maine Coon. I wonder when. For now, there is what Kuma leaves behind: Memories, photos, and the collar—hanging `round the neck of a forlorn plushie.