Jack, the Lion-Hearted Housecat

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Jack, el gato con corazón de león

Notice the tiny orange dot at the base of the tree. That's Jack, the house cat. Now, notice the large black bear at the top of the tree, peering down fearfully at the tiny orange dot.

On June 4, a black bear wandered into a West Milford, New Jersey, back yard, was confronted by a 15 pound (7 kilogram) declawed house cat ... and the bear promptly fled up a neighbor's tree.

Image: Suzanne Giovanetti (AP Photo).

I have been chuckling over this story for more than a month now because it proves that size is not what matters, but rather, what really matters is you do with what you've got. After I hunted down the large image that you see above, I think you also get the general idea of what I have been amused by.

A black bear wandered into a neighborhood yard in New Jersey only to find that the family pet, Jack, the declawed but nevertheless lion-hearted house cat, was waiting for him. Oh, did I mention that Jack doesn't mess around?

"He doesn't want anybody in his yard," cat owner Donna Dickey said of her fearless feline.

The 15-pound orange-and-white cat chased a black bear up a tree, where the bear sat watching him for approximately 15 minutes before returning to the ground and attempting to escape. At this point, Jack chased the bear up another tree.

Dickey, Jack's owner, finally called her cat indoors, and the grateful black bear returned into the nearby woods.

According to Dickey, Jack regularly patrols his territory and chasing small animals away whenever he can.

"We used to joke, 'Jack's on duty,' never knowing he'd go after a bear," Dickey said.

Suzanne Giovanetti, a neighbor who took the above photograph, first saw what Jack had done after her husband watched the bear climb a tree on the edge of their northern New Jersey home's back yard. Giovanetti thought Jack was simply looking up at the bear, but soon realized the much larger animal was afraid of the hissing cat.

Bear sightings are not unusual in West Milford, which have one of the highest populations of black bears in the state. Adult black bears weigh between 200 and 600 pounds (between 90 and 270 kilograms) and can reach sizes as large as 6 feet (1.8 meters) long. The animals are omnivorous, eating fruits, honey, insects, acorns and sometimes animals. Bears become less wary of humans after years of being fed and finding scraps in garbage cans.

Housecats, on the other hand, rarely weigh more than 20 pounds, and are obligate carnivores, relying solely on meat, except when they snack on grass and then barf on your most expensive carpet.


BBCNews (quote)

Boston.com News (quotes)


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The picture is priceless, but I don't understand why anyone would let a declawed cat roam outside...

I had two particularly destructive cats declawed back in the 80s. They never seemed to suffer from the operations; in fact, they were back to their jumping-to-and-from-high-places routine immediately after they came home. Scratching behavior continued. The determined gals shredded the bottom cover of a box spring even without claws. They were apartment cats who never went outside, of course.

When I moved to a house on the west side of Barstow, California, I quickly noticed that dogs crossed the street to avoid the sidewalk in front. Soon I realized that all the dogs carefully watched the house as they passed.

Finally I asked the neighbors and got the answer. Years before I moved in, the people there had a tabby cat named Chainsaw who would spend his days on the roof, watching for unsuspecting dogs. He would jump down from the room and sneak up on the unwary pooch, then attack from above, all fangs and claws. The dog would run for his life, and the cat would pursue for a bit, depending on how hot the weather was.

Chainsaw did this for his own amusement, the neighbors agreed.

By Rose Colored Glasses (not verified) on 04 Aug 2007 #permalink

I'm curious. How do you know that the bear's name is "June 4"?

That picture reminds me of Greebo, Nanny Ogg's cat in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. Except I think Greebo, having treed the bear, wouldn't have stopped there, but would have climbed up the tree after the bear...

Seven years ago, when my older cat Jupiter was very sick, we went on vacation. We wanted her watched, so we left her with my aunt, who had a yellow lab. The yellow lab tried to check her out, and she hissed and swatted at her! I guess the dog lived in fear of her for the entire next week. So I can totally imagine this story to be true. Very funny.

so does this mean that we little people can tree bush?

By eric swan (not verified) on 04 Aug 2007 #permalink

The little cat is amazing, but on the subject of the declawing of cats, it is illegal in the UK. Thankfully!And unless Rugosa actually had a conversation with her declawed cats on the merits of the operation, I suggest she use the word *alledgedly* before her comments on whether or not her cat suffered any ill effects.

By Carpathia (not verified) on 05 Aug 2007 #permalink

Some friends of mine have a pair of dogs who regularly chased a bear off their property for awhile. The bear was eventually relocated by the Forest Service because he was getting a little too comfortable around people, but he definitely didn't like those dogs! (They weren't aggressive dogs, either, just, you know, that was THEIR house.)

By G. Williams (not verified) on 05 Aug 2007 #permalink

That is such a cool story. The last paragraph slays me. What a wonderful use of juxtaposition! :)

I read something just the other day that the secret to dealing with bears is to make them believe that you're bigger than they are. I guess Jack has the knack. Then again, I also saw my mother's tiny, dainty seven-pound cat chase a pair of large Dobermans off of my parents' property, so you never know...

By Interrobang (not verified) on 05 Aug 2007 #permalink

I had a bantam rooster that would chase bears and moose out of my yard.



By Ktesibios (not verified) on 06 Aug 2007 #permalink

What a brilliant story! I wish my cat was so brave, but he's the dumbest cat I've ever had. I still love him to bits of course.

At first I thought the black creature was Jack. I had to scroll down to see Jack was the red spot and to realise the black thing was a bear. My boyfriend had the same. That made the story even funnier. :)

That picture is hilarious. I've known many that could back down much larger animals too.

On the topic of declawing: my cat was declawed as a kitten and he was a very successful hunter. Our yard never had wildlife for long because the cat ate any animal that approached. He even killed a badger once!

This has been said elsewhere, but this wasn't a matter of how fierce the cat was, so much as how timid the bear was!

My cat usually has fearsome claws (recently clipped), but she's pretty good about confining herself to the scratching posts. She did pick on one cabinet lately, but that was in the last two weeks before my latest interstate move, her master was stressed to the gills and rearranging the place to boot. (All settled into Charlottesville now!)

By David Harmon (not verified) on 07 Aug 2007 #permalink

I tried to post this before, but it seems not to have gone through. Black bears are actually pretty timid critters -- Dave Bonta recently "bragged" of managing to get a photo of one before it saw him and skedaddled.

By David Harmon (not verified) on 09 Aug 2007 #permalink

We used to have a small orange-tabby house/barn cat which terrorised everything on the property. At one point we had a serious problem with feral dogs going after our animals...but not when she was around.

At one point, I saw a strange bulldog marking out new territory across our pastures. It chased off our two dogs, no problem; hoping to avoid any fatalities, I rounded up the cats and confined them inside. However, my mother, not knowing the bulldog was out there, saw Tibbs going mental at the door and let her out. The cat beelined it for the dog at top speed, never hesitated, and hit that dog like a 7-pound, four-legged hurricane. I think the sheer suddenness of the attack helped, but the dog never stood a chance -- next I saw of it, it was running for the horizon, bleeding freely, and we never saw it again. Cat, of course, didn't have a scratch on her.

So, in short, seeing this amused me immensely, but didn't surprise me any. ^_^

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 09 Aug 2007 #permalink

Cats have once been worshipped as gods. They have never forgotten that.
So... smiting a bear is just all in a days work really... and command presence does it all !