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A window on his world

A second look

By JOHN BARRY
Published December 27, 2003

photo
[Times photo: Kathleen Flynn]
Perched in the kitchen window of Tommi and Nancy Houston’s home in Dunedin, their cat Boris can only peer through the blinds at the now off-limits front yard.

DUNEDIN, Sept. 25 - Ten cats turned up missing in a month in Dunedin's Royal Oaks subdivision. All that was left of them were bones and patches of fur.

Everyone knew that the culprits were coyotes, but no one knew what to do about it. The animals, each weighing about 35 pounds, are everywhere. They breed once, sometimes twice a year. Their rung on the food chain is just above the one marked c-a-t.

The city offered a class called "Coyotes in My Backyard!" It made humans feel better, more informed, but was cold comfort for cats.

"If coyotes find some cats, they're going to go after cats," said Dr. Welch Agnew, assistant director of veterinary services for Pinellas County Animal Services.

* * *

DUNEDIN, weeks later - Boris peers through the blinds at the now-off-limits front yard of Tommi and Nancy Houston on Jackmar Drive.

Boris was once a savvy Outdoor Cat. He used to live in rural upstate New York and South Dakota and knew a thing or two about survival in the woods. In Dunedin, he was free to roam the neighborhood until the sun went down.

Then Boris' own son, Ivan, disappeared one day in October. Tommi Houston found a patch of fur and coyote markings on the ground in the front yard.

"He knew," Tommi said of Boris. "He ran right to the spot where I found (Ivan's) fur and acted anxious for several days afterward."

So now Boris' world view has changed. It is a view blocked by blinds, muted by glass. Tommi and Nancy say it's for his own good. He just has to get used to it. Boris is now, and forevermore, an Indoor Cat.

A Second Look is a new feature that revisits the site of a news event to see what has changed there. It will appear occasionally in Floridian.

[Last modified December 24, 2003, 11:48:43]


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