Animal instincts

Kym Seabolt's dog, Jackson

If you haven’t heard of Travis Kauffman, you probably should. I try not to drop names in my columns so that they can remain timeless.

However, in this case, I doubt I’m going to have cause to want to have a timeless reference to a human being fighting off a mountain lion, so I’m naming names here.


Apparently, Mr. Kauffman was jogging along a well-marked trail in his home state of somewhere wooded. Colorado maybe? I’m thinking it was Colorado.

I know it was one of those states where apparently mountain lions just leap out at people willy-nilly thus ensuring I will never want to live there — let alone run.

Granted we know I don’t willingly run anywhere. In fact, if you ever see me running you can best assume something is chasing us, and start running, too.

As long as you run faster than I am, you’ll probably survive.

Anyway back to the mountain lion. I realize I am not very good at building momentum to a story. I probably should have sprung that on you later in the tale but honestly, why bury the lead?

So Travis was minding his own business, jogging for some inexplicable reason, when without warning a young male mountain lion jumped atop him.

At this point, Mr. Kauffman, who describes himself as 5 feet 10 inches tall and approximately 150 pounds, had no choice but to single-handedly fight off a mountain lion that was actively chewing on his bones.

As he was fighting off the mountain lion, Kauffman suddenly recalled how his newly adopted pet cat, Obie, would attempt to pummel him with his back feet when play fighting.

Thus concerned that the 50-pound beast — also, a cat after all — would do the same, he managed to use one of his knees to pin down the animal’s back legs.

He then was able to shift his weight and somehow suffocate the big cat by stepping on its neck. As you do. Obviously. Cat. So let us reiterate.

He credits this life-saving decision to the inspiration of his pet cat, who, through their play battles together, unwittingly taught him how to fend off a mountain lion.

His house cat, in some sense, saved his life.

Well isn’t that admirable? You know what I’ve learned from our pet cat? How to open a cheese wrapper in utter silence lest he attack my hands and to never leave a glass unattended on a table top.

Also, if you don’t get up at the exact time he wants you to, he might attack your face.

In fact, looking around my menagerie, I have to say that I feel they are not stepping up in the preparing me for survival strategies.

From our small dogs, I guess I’ve learned that squirrels, birds, and leaves blown by wind gusts are potentially life-threatening and should be watched. That life is better with extra sofa blankets.

Finally, how to unwrap lunch meat very quietly or risk being accosted by tiny, ankle high whirlwinds throwing themselves at my knees in pursuit of food.

I guess if a pack of deli ham ever sneaks up on me in the woods, I’ve got a fighting chance. Otherwise, I’m not so sure.

Granted, I think it’s safe to assume that if I should ever find myself jogging in the wilderness, many other things have already gone horribly wrong in my life.

Being attacked by a wild animal will, at that point, just be par for the course.


This isn’t to say that we haven’t learned quite a bit from our own little crew of rescued animals. Each pet has come to us from dire circumstances.

Each, in turn, has taught us their own survival skills. From these furry survivors, we learn the value of holding on, staying strong, and of believing that better days will come.

Our dogs were rescued from natural disaster or human neglect, respectively, and the cat from nearly freezing to death as an abandoned kitten.

Each teach us that trust is worth giving again — even if some people have let you down before. They also teach that most things can be helped, if not outright cured, with love, some snuggles and lots of kisses.

Having a bad day? The soulful eyes and contented sigh of a rescue dog laying a head on my lap can ease a lot of bad moods.

From them, I learned to stop and smell (sniff?) the roses. Also the clover, rocks and random cats. See also: If all else fails, try a nap. For best results taken in a sunbeam.

Those are skills that, while probably not as adrenaline-fueled as fighting off a mountain lion, actually come in pretty darn handy each and every day.


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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.



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