A local man was doing cardio exercises in his driveway on Sunday when he saw a bobcat that, for a few nervous minutes, barred him from his own home.
Dave Torello is a 53-year-old retired East Haven police officer in prime shape, having just lost 70 pounds, but that didn’t seem to bother the bobcat, whom Torello first thought was an ordinary house cat hiding under the bushes alongside his house on Golden Rod Court.
At first approaching it calling, “here, kitty kitty kitty!” Torello saw that he was dealing with something else.
“I saw the rear end of it first. It looked like a big ... bunny,” Torello said Monday. “It didn't have a long tail. It was like a few seconds after I initially saw it, I thought, ‘damn, it’s a bobcat’ and I started taking pictures.”
The only wild cat found in Connecticut, and the most common wild cat in North America, this particular bobcat was unusually close to Torello’s home. Torello said that natural selection probably had
a hand in that. Since the start of the pandemic, Torello and his wife Cathy have been tossing peanuts, corn stalks and birdseed off their porch. Torello said that the food drew birds and neighborhood squirrels right to porch, which drew more squirrels and required more food and eventually drew larger animals.
As Torello approached him, the bobcat kept edging away until he was almost on the cement stairs that lead to Torello’s front door.
Then the bobcat decided he’d had enough of the paparazzi, and might have caused Torello a problem. Adult male bobcats grow to as much as 35 pounds, females to 30 pounds, according to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and the bobcat in front of Torello was big enough to do damage.
“He started growling at me. He was starting to get into position like he was going to pounce on me,” Torello said. “Now I am thinking, I just want to get in the house. At first I was thinking, it is a little bobcat, what can it do?”
With Cathy at the door looking on, Torello eventually had to climb the staircase from its side as the bobcat stared at him, getting in the house without any damage being done. The bobcat sauntered off.
Cathy Torello said she found the encounter interesting, particularly for the bobcat’s closeness to the house and the look on her husband’s face during much of the encounter. The Torellos have lived in the house on Golden Rod Court for seven years.
“You could see that he was concerned,” she said.
The couple posted the pictures on social media and drew amused responses from friends.
“He’s adorable!! He would only take a little bite. Seriously bobcats could be very vicious and they hurt real bad!!! Glad you stayed away,” one friend commented.
“That front porch of yours is like Natural [SIC] Geographic! You never know what the heck is going to show up,” another said.
His friends also enjoyed knowing that the couple have what he called “a pooping gnome” — a small lawn ornament in their front yard.
“He’s keeping your gnome company,” one said.
Torello is glad that he didn’t challenge the bobcat.
“The claws probably would have given me some good stitches,” he said.