AUSTIN, Texas — It was around midnight and Jessica Luna was still awake, reading her book in her Pflugerville home. She sat by a window that overlooks a fence that she shares with a neighbor. Then she saw something move at the corner of her eye.
It was a bobcat walking on top of the privacy fence.
That was one of Luna's sightings of a new bobcat family living under her nextdoor neighbor's back porch.
"We love them," she said. "It's super adorable."
The female bobcat and her three cubs have been the talk of the Blackhawk neighborhood. Carla Saris said the cats moved under the deck of her backyard about a week ago.
"We get 'National Geographic' from our window," Saris said.
The Saris family leaves their new backyard residents alone. They catch the mother bobcat and her cubs on or under the deck and even sometimes playing in the trees in the backyard.
Saris said she and her family have lived in their house since 2008. It faces a greenbelt, which she suspects was where bobcats and other wildlife tended to be. But Saris said she has seen the area change from several open fields to new housing development.
She thinks the cats used to use those fields to hunt, but not any more.
"We had a lot of bunnies," Saris said. "They solved my bunny problem."
According to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), bobcats are highly adaptable cats that have been able to cope with human settlement. Bobcats' diets also consist of small mammals and birds, like rabbits.
Saris said her husband contacted game wardens from TPWD about what to do with the family of bobcats. She said they were advised to leave the animals alone and that they would likely move on in a week or two.
Saris, her husband and her two sons do not feed the bobcats or give them any water. And despite some pleas from her 5 and 7-year-old sons, they have not named the cats either.
And if they don't move on in the next week or so? Saris said she will contact wildlife experts again about next steps.
"The bobcat Airbnb is closed, and they don't need to be coming back," Saris said.
But for the time being, she said she feels a responsibility to let the mama bobcat use the safety of her backyard.
"Raise your babies because we have taken your habitat," she said. "That's what happens. They have nowhere to go."
Saris said they will also fix the back deck once the bobcats move out.
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