Here Kitty, Kitty — Now With Blurry Photo!

Lame focus with a zoom lens from a moving car…
but the highlighted area shows the cat as it disappeared into the trees.

For the first time in my life, I’ve seen a mountain lion in the wild.

OK, “in the wild” is stretching it a little. The big cat was in somebody’s pasture, perhaps 100 feet from the road, and we humans were safely within the confines of my Ford Lemonstar minivan. But still, it gave me goosebumps.

Thursday afternoon, Kelly and I and our older son and his girlfriend trooped out to Bella Vista Farms to deliver a donation to Chic Miller, the amazing woman who tends hundreds of rescue animals on a rolling spread between Igo and Cottonwood. Kelly keeps a donation box for Bella Vista Farms at her Pink Hollyhock blog here, and the contributions give us an excuse to go see Chic and her petting zoo once in a while.

We had the usual great time, smooching the llamas and petting the dogs and cats and goats and ponies. By the time we left, the sun was low in the sky.

We’d gone a couple of hundred yards on the narrow road that leads out of Bella Vista Farms when Kelly spotted the mountain lion upslope to our left. The tawny cat was out in the sunshine, in high relief against the pasture, which was vivid green from the recent rains. The mountain lion looked healthy and well-fed and its long tail was fluffy and fat. After a minute or so, it slinked off to some nearby trees, running low to the ground like a housecat, and we lost sight of it.

Wow. Quite an experience. One that would’ve felt much different if we’d been hiking rather than driving. But unforgettable just the same.

  • Redding residents should watch out for tree-trimming downtown. CalTrans crews will prune dead limbs and improve sightlines along Market Street southbound from Eureka Way to Cypress Avenue from Tuesday through Jan. 26. From Jan. 27 through Feb. 23, the crews will trim trees on northbound Pine Street from Cypress to Eureka Way. The crews will mostly work in the parking lanes and shouldn’t interfere too much with traffic.
  • Viva Downtown is sponsoring a fundraising performance of “Murder Me, Murder Me Not” at Riverfront Playhouse on Jan. 27, and tickets are on sale now for $25 each. Proceeds benefit Viva Downtown, the nonprofit organization behind Marketfest, Winterfest, the annual beer and wine festival and more. For tickets, contact our own Adam Mankoski at
  • Turtle Bay Exploration Park unveils a new exhibit this weekend that celebrates artists and Mount Shasta. Sponsored by Five Star Bank, “The Art of Mount Shasta” features paintings of the iconic mountain as well as the history of its depictions by artists. The exhibit runs through May 2.
  • Sports: Big playoff weekend coming up in the NFL. Jarrett Bell at USA Today has a nice roundup here of which teams look hot.
  • Rules for Successful Living #17: Beware the escalator.

Tips appreciated: Send news tidbits to

is the author of CUTTHROAT and 17 other books. Read more of his columns at, or follow him on Facebook.
Comment Policy: We welcome your comments, with some caveats: Please keep your comments positive and civilized. If your comment is critical, please make it constructive. If your comment is rude, we will delete it. If you are constantly negative or a general pest, troll, or hater, we will ban you from the site forever. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Comments are disabled on articles older than 90 days. Thank you. Carry on.

6 Responses

  1. Avatar Celeste White says:

    Absolutely the best way to see a mountain lion! From inside your car! No kidding, though, they are such amazing predators, even that can get your heart to racing.

  2. James Montgomery James Montgomery says:

    They areimpressive animals! I've seen a dozen or so through the years. When you see them close up on foot, it definitely gets the blood moving.

    I'm glad there are some around to see, but I'm not sure I like having them near town. It does seem as though the city people of California have voted to raise them in the country people's back yards.

  3. Avatar frankz says:

    Good thing you or Kelly or your elder son or your elder son's girlfriend had that cellphone ready to grab the cat before it disappeared.

  4. Avatar Ann Webber says:

    You remind me of the time we were driving home on our road in the evening and we had a big beautiful cougar come down the bank on the driver's side of the van. I was so panicked because I could not get the window to go up! As if he would jump right in the car! I also remember my brain going through a list of what animals it could be until it came to the truth. They are something to behold.

  5. Avatar gamerjohn says:

    Worst place? While walking your dog in Whiskeytown, turning around and noticing one slip across the path, twenty feet away. After my heart restarted I guessed it was avoiding us since it probably was in the bushes we just walked past and could have jumped on the dog or littler kids if it wanted. We make it a point to be noisier on trails now.