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Field Notes From Zennest: Ring-Tailed Cats

The following is a travel journal entry from Zennest’s owner, Les Ottolenghi. Every day is an adventure at the Zennest with lots of stories and characters included.

Over the holidays, my family and I escaped the desert heat to get away to the Zennest. Southern Utah is beautiful this time of year, offering plenty of fresh powder activities like sledding, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and more. Not to mention we photographed an epic snowstorm rolling in over the Western horizon.

Zen Nest Snowstorm on the horizon

A few days into the trip, I began to hear the occasional bark or chirp coming from the yard at night. The chattering became more frequent. Then I started to notice holes appearing in the trash bags outside and wondered if a raccoon was having a field day with our holiday leftovers. 

Meet Ringo

Ringo the Ring Tail Cat at Zen Nest

Then one night the culprit showed themselves. It was after dinner, and as I passed the sliding-glass doors that walk out onto the back deck I saw a little face with big triangular ears staring back at me. Its tail was striped, long, and fluffy like a lemur. Big eyes were surrounded by white circles like they had a pair of snowboarding goggles on. It was slightly bigger than our house cat Mittens, and in short — was absolutely adorable. 

We had just experienced our first sighting of a ring-tailed cat. It visited us regularly and continued to rummage around looking for leftovers and peering in the window. Its visits were highly anticipated events and we watched it from the back window. Of course, we named it too: Ringo the Ring-tailed Cat.

Because the Zennest is surrounded by national parks, we are used to seeing a diverse array of forest creatures. The ring-tailed cat was completely unexpected, but they’re not uncommon for the area. A native of the raccoon family, their Latin name means “clever little fox.” They resourcefully forage around, eating an omnivorous diet, and are found throughout Texas, the Southwest, and parts of the West coast, including right here in Duck Creek Village, Utah.


Nicknamed “the miner’s cat”

they are apparently very affectionate and easily domesticated.While Ringo stays outside we love that he chose the Zennest for a winter hide-out. It is truly paradise here and our new animal friend agrees although we’re not sure what Mittens will think when she finds out.


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