I saw my first desert big cat on a hot day (2008) in McCoy Wash northwest of Blythe, Ca. a few hours ago. It was just another 110-degree August walk when a black cloud formed, reared in the east and approached on the wind. Suddenly the sun was blotted as sand blew horizontally at 40mph mixed with a few precious drops of rain that evaporated as soon as they hit the skin. I clutched my hat and bent into the storm angling toward the large wash to cut the wind and find an Ironwood to which to cling should a tornado form.
Ten minutes into the wash, a desert cat crossed my path ten steps away. He stopped, peered at me in the tempest, and shrugged the equivalent of ‘It’s a miserable day, let’s not mix.’ It strode under a Palo Verde tree for shelter and hunkered down. I took a close look, but still am not sure of the species.
The desert cats include the lynx, bobcat and mountain lion of which I’ve previously seen the initial two. The big cat before me, thin and ragged with hunger and thirst of many days, owned a 2.5’ body and equal length tail with a tuft toward the end. It weighed about 45 lb. but, as mentioned, was scrawny and could fill out to half-again that with a long drought and deer. The ears were round, snout not elongated and feet like furred saucers. It was oddly marked with spots like a leopard about the legs, the body tawny with a few black patches. The unruffled beast lay blinking against the sand and wind, and I simply passed shouldering the same. As for the species, I can only think of a mountain lion-bobcat hybrid.