Nighttime visitor

On Christmas morning we not only found presents under the tree but also a surprise on my in-laws’ back patio:


These footprints were right next to the house. My father-in-law got out a tape measure for scale:


For comparison, these are our black lab’s footprints:


So who was our nighttime visitor?

A mountain lion, also known as cougar or puma.

My in-laws see tracks occasionally, but never this close to the house. For all we know, this particular mountain lion could have watched us watching TV in the living room.

Or maybe it was after my father-in-law’s private stash of MGD, stored in the snow right outside the kitchen door: