Murphy and the Bear

Murphy and the Bear

Windy Lake is a lovely place, on the edge of the Canadian Shield, not too far from Sudbury, and sparsely populated with cottages. It’s a loon migration lake, and wildlife abounds. A mother Morganser swam by the dock each morning, with no less than 23 ducklings in pursuit. (We concluded that she’d adopted another duck’s brood after … something happened.)

In less than a week, we encountered a moose, several deer, lots of chipmunks, a beaver, otters, a few straggly squirrels, and one morning, a mother black bear with her two young.

We were out on the road, walking the dog, when he pointed in that way hunting breeds do. (We don’t hunt, but have never managed to successfully communicate that to our dog.) I squinted into the distance, and spied the object of his interest – a cat. The cat ignored us, his eyes fixed on a thatch of wild blueberry bushes some 10 meters away.

Then the bushes moved, revealing Momma Bear, who’d been in the shadows, eating berries. Her young were behind her, but she was clearly alert to the cat, whether as food or threat we couldn’t tell. The cat stayed perfectly still, looking confused, and the bear ran, incredibly quick for such an ungainly-looking creature, and swatted the cat with one paw. The cat flew in the air and landed with a thump meters away from where we stood. The bear loped off in the direction of her young.

Why didn’t the cat run from the bear? I’ve seen cats face off with dogs five times their size, but this cat didn’t seem to react at all to the looming, lumbering threat.

We went to investigate but the poor cat was already dead, his head at an unnatural angle.

We spent much of the morning visiting neighbouring cottages, trying to find the owners. We eventually located them and told them the sad tale. They were, of course, upset, and relayed how they’d lost two cats the previous year. They just never came back. But they’d wanted their new cat, Murphy, to experience the cottage and let him roam. As gently as possible we suggested that any future cats be kept safe from the risks of roaming unsupervised, including Momma Bear.

Hopefully Murphy’s sad end will finally convince them the great outdoors are no safe place for a cat.