DEAR JOAN: I was walking in San Ramon about 9 a.m. recently and I spotted a gray fox. He just trotted across the street and then down the block, staying close to the houses.

I was surprised as this is in the middle of a tract of homes, not out in the hills. He saw me but he did not seem wary.

Is it common for wild foxes to be in the 'burbs, especially during the day? What is their regular diet?

Any idea what he might be doing?

Tom Kennedy

San Ramon

DEAR TOM: With the drought, we're likely to see a lot of animals paying us visits, but the truth is, the fox is one of those creatures that moved into suburbia awhile back and doesn't seem intent on leaving it.

Two young foxes play in a backyard.
Two young foxes play in a backyard. (Courtesy of Carolyn Morse)

The fox you saw was probably searching for food. You shouldn't read too much into seeing it during the daytime. It's spring and the fox may have pups nearby. When kits come along, the parents may be too busy tending them at night to hunt for food, so you'll often see them out foraging during the day.

Foxes mate for life and the male plays an important part in rearing the pups until they are about 2 months old and ready to venture out of the den on their own.

The gray fox, which has the ability to climb, eats a variety of things, from manzanita berries to small mammals and birds. If you remember your Aesop's fables, foxes also are fond of grapes. They also will eat about any fruit that is in season. Although foxes eat meat, they eat more fruits and vegetables than you might imagine.

Keep any eye out for the fox and you may see it again. Chances are its den is in that area. Foxes present no threat to humans, but rabbit and meandering cats could be in trouble.

DEAR JOAN: Do you know why cats always have to help (interfere) with putting clean sheets on the bed?

It seems that every cat we've ever had, and there have been many, has to jump on the bed and either just lie there or play in the sheets when we're putting clean ones on the bed.

They don't play in the bed the rest of the time. Even if I'm folding just-washed sheets they like to get into them as I fold them.

Liz Fisher

Pleasant Hill

DEAR LIZ: I suspect cats love fresh laundry for many of the same reasons we do -- it smells lovely and clean, and there's nothing better than slipping into a freshly made bed at the end of a long day. Throw in a feather mattress and you're talking heaven.

Cats love all of those things, too. Mostly, they like being warm and they have the ability -- and desire -- to be nearer warm things than our bodies can tolerate. A cat can sit for hours next to a roaring fire, despite their thick coat, while we can tolerate only a few minutes of exposure. They also will sleep all night under the covers.

Cat are masters at napping and finding the best, coziest places to do so.

The act of making the bed may also be seen as a time to play. If you've ever amused yourself and your cat with a ribbon or bit of yarn, then you can see the appeal of the floating sheets.

The important thing to remember, however, is that you're not making the bed for yourself; you're making it for the cat. At least, that's the way they see it.

If you have a cat-in-the-sheets story to share, I'd love to read it.

Contact Joan Morris at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com. Read the Animal Life blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/pets.