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What Is This Mystery Cat?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on October 3rd, 2008

Certainly, mystery cat photographs from the United Kingdom are nothing new. Some appear to be domestic cats, others seem to be feral cats, and a few could represent escaped exotics or even a breeding population of released larger felines.

Today, I was sent the latest example, being a mystery cat photograph taken of an animal on a golf course in Snodland, apparently earlier in 2008. It will be recalled that in February 2008, a man fishing at a Snodland lake reported seeing “a dark grey animal the size of a fox, with a long thick tail,” on the opposite shore from where he was fishing.

Snodland is a small town in the county of Kent, England, located on the River Medway between Rochester and Maidstone. It has a population of about 12,000 people.

This exclusive, never-before-published photograph was sent along by Big Cats in Britain’s Mark Fraser, who has given his permission to post it here to obtain readers’ opinions on what it might be.

Once again, unfortunately, there is nothing in frame to give a good idea of scale. Bloody damn.

I’ll leave this open-ended, without any opinion recorded from me, to fully secure your insights. However, I’ve looked at this all morning, and I wish to point out, there does, indeed, appear to be a striping on the face of this cat.

What’s your speculation on the identity of this one?

+++++++
Later…

My own sense of this is that if it is an exotic, it could be a backlit African golden cat (Profelis aurata or Felis aurata Temminck), which, as shown here in fuller light, has rather clear facial banding:

As seen in the following painting by Linda DuPuis-Rosen, the facial features of the African golden cat show bars. Also as shown, the belly has a natural tendency to have folds of skin hanging down and being pronounced enough to be noticed (below) in sightings. While the spotting on the belly of the beast in this artwork is perhaps rather too dramatic, the general “feel” of the appearance of the African golden cat may match the felid in the Kent photo.

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


46 Responses to “What Is This Mystery Cat?”

  1. Richard888 responds:

    Hi Loren,

    It is a true mystery cat. It is not a house cat. It is not a North American cat. It is not an African or Asian cat. But it looks female.

    It should be easy to estimate its size by putting a house cat in its place. If the United Kingdom can hide a breeding population of escaped exotics, why can it not hide a breeding population of a completely unknown large cat?

    Cheers!

  2. Galea responds:

    well…its not just some house cat. The body proportions don’t make sense. It doesn’t, however, appear to be that large of an animal. Its fur also appears to be patterned.

  3. Cashel responds:

    IMHO:

    The shape of the head, the size and shape of the ears, and the length of the tail, all point to a regular old cat.

    There is nothing to which a size comparison can be made.

    And, the sunlight seems to distort the muscularity of the hind leg, making it appear bulkier.

    You can see a near perfect profile of the cat’s head as a shadow on the same hind leg. A big cat would have a much squarer face.

    I think there really are/were big cats in England, but this isn’t one of them.

    Something else to consider: the cat is in a very relaxed position; it would have been easy to capture two or three more photos before it would react.

  4. CalebKitson responds:

    It has a really thick body…it’s hard to tell! It might be a fat melanistic Caracal…but then it might be something completely different! Que es ESTA?!? Perhaps it is an undiscovered species.

  5. whiteriverfisherman responds:

    If it is a house cat it is a damn big one. It looks to be about twice the size of a domestic cat, well about fox sized. I think it is a female which probably means if there is a male he would be even bigger. Nice photo.

  6. kittenz responds:

    It looks like a Havana Brown-type cat to me. It may be a fairly big rangy cat but I don’t think it is anything other than domestic or a feral domestic.

  7. Laberwaver responds:

    Did the person who took the picture give any details about the sighting?

  8. kittenz responds:

    Even its coloring looks like what is called in the UK a Foreign type of domestic cat. Plus its lanky build, with the belly dewlap, is very similar to the old-type Siamese, (which are also classed as “Foreign” in the UK). I think it is a Siamese or Burmese type (British Burmese look a lot different in build than those in the USA), probably not a “purebred” anything, but of Siamese descent.

  9. cuitlamiztli responds:

    If it isn’t domestic (and the body seems a little too long to definitively say that it *is*), my guess would be an Asian golden cat–which has facial striping, is roughly the size of a fox, and can be gray or melanistic. If you flip the top picture and compare it to the mystery cat, there’s a resemblance.

    But, that’s just my opinion.

  10. Shane Durgee responds:

    I’m siding with the folks that see a large cat in that photo. I have 3 domestic cats, and the general shape of this guy, to me, points to something much bigger.

  11. hudgeliberal responds:

    It seems a bit thick to be a regular housecat. I was going to say something about the rather large,muscular hind leg but as someone pointed out the sun could be playing tricks with that. Still,it seems to have enough differences to warrant further inspection. It is rather hard to get any idea of size but in my opinion it is bigger than the average fox. Interesting pic though.

  12. sschaper responds:

    It looks like a part-Siamese house cat.

    That depends though whether it is on a green or a rough.

  13. cryptidsrus responds:

    Looks too big to be a house cat, in my opinion. The head is also “not right.”
    Good post and picture. Genuine mystery felid, here.

  14. Dj Plasmic Nebula responds:

    it could be a Smilodon well a small version…
    or other variations of saber-toothed cat

    i tried to enhanced it but no clear visual…. i don’t think it’s a African Golden cat.. the ear seem to pointy.

    although it can be a breed /hybrid of African Golden Cats.. therefore makes it unknown to science……
    or an unknown cat not known to fossil records.. as someone stated here before… House Cat…. large house cat in my opinion, a breed? or an unknown house Like cat..

    lol as i read before that we might be seeing new animals arriving….i believe it.
    one day bigfoot will be known..

    what’s best right now is to compare the bodys of AFC to the Unknown Cat. ;)

    but then that wouldn’t really mean nothing.

    for hybrids do occure and some cat s look the same and their not mix with each other. ;)

    but with their great grandparents yeah. :)

    other than that.. britain may very well have their own Big Cat. like us usa and africa… :)

  15. TBO responds:

    Looks photo shopped to me… Around all of the feet seems blurry & inbetween the 2 back feet the green seems to be off & out of place…

    Also the cat just seems to be placed there…Dosent look right all around it…

    Not saying Im right or wrong just my opinion it dosent look right to me…

  16. REVCOP responds:

    That My friends Is A Burmese a Domestic Cat
    very close to a Siamese but a little stockier.

  17. archer1945 responds:

    With absolutely no clues as to distance from the camera there is no way to even begin to guess the size. It could be ten feet away from the camera and small or 75 feet and quite large. From a photographic point of view I’m inclined to think it is relatively close to the camera. I’m basing this on the foreground seeming to be slightly more in focus than the background, though with this picture it is really hard to tell.

    I’m inclined to think it is a large domestic cat because it seems to be just too relaxed while having its picture taken. I would think any feral or exotic would show more signs of being ready to run as soon as if figures out what it going on.

  18. kittenz responds:

    The ears don’t look right for a Golden Cat. I don’t think it’s impossible that Golden Cats may be living wild in Britain, but I don’t think this cat is of that species. The set of its tail, the head-to-body proportions – everything really – look like a backlit Siamese-type cat.

  19. sasquatch responds:

    It looks very large for a house cat. Does not look photo-shopped. I’m gonna look for some Burmese cat photos tho’…

  20. sasquatch responds:

    O.K. I went to a website about Burmese cats…I don’t think so-this is a much larger animal. look at the distance between the front and rear legs…Look at how far above the grass the belly is…House cats belly’s barely raise a few inches above grass- especially long looking grass like this. What’s more; this cat looks to be standind down in a little gully behind the rise in the foreground and it STILL towers above the grass. This is a big cat…almost small leopard size in my opinion.

  21. Shelley responds:

    This looks a lot like the size and profile of my largest domestic cat, except for coloring, which is unusual for a domestic.

    It should be mandatory for anyone who wants to have a mystery cat picture considered to go back to the site and photograph it with a yardstick or meter stick in the ground!

    Did they ever decide what the cat who visited the Univ. of Md last summer was?

  22. kittenz responds:

    Here is a link to a website devoted to “Cats of Thailand”. There are lots of photos, including photos of cats called “Thong Daeng” that closely resemble the “mystery cat” in the photo.

  23. kittenz responds:

    When looking for photos of Burmese cats you need to remember that Burmese cats in the UK and some European countries are much different than Burmese cats in the USA.

    The UK breed is more lanky and more closely resembles the original Siamese cats that came to Britain in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

    The American breed of Burmese is a more rounded, “cobby” animal. The two types are so different that they are actually two different breeds.

    The cat shown here very closely resembles a darkish old-type Siamese, a brown British Burmese, or a Siamese or Burmese mix. Burmese cats are quite popular in Britain and the coloration is very variable. The dark brown color (called Seal in the US breed) is the original color.

  24. kittenz responds:

    I apologize, just to clear this up: the dark brown coloring in Siamese is called Seal (as in Sealpoint), but in the US Burmese it is called Sable.

  25. HIAC21 responds:

    Not so fast. I shared my home with a truely large alley cat. 39 inches from nose to tail, In shape always, he weighed from 27-30 lbs depending on his moods, he was huge. Most of the people I knew said he was the biggest “skinny” can they had ever seen.

    This possibly feral housecat has a very similar build. I wouldn’t be suprised if this one was just a housecat at the large end of the size scale.

  26. neko_senchou responds:

    The ears do appear to be more pointed, like a house cat, not rounded. With no real way to determine size you can’t tell. Though, it does look “husky” for a domestic.

    Maybe he works out?! :D

  27. Scrabbydoo responds:

    My very first thought when I saw the photo was Hybrid. The ears made me think of a Lynx. Though the body and tail (esp. the tail) remind me more of a small leopard. So could this be a Lynx (or Bobcat) Leopard hybrid? The body and tail shape of a leopard with the ear shape and size of a Lynx.

    I know from experience the size Burmese Cats can achieve. I have one and he’s just over 3 foot long, weights 28 lbs, and has 1 1/4 inch claws. He also eats as much as two of my small dogs and isn’t fat a bit! My back neighbor asked me if he was part cougar! LOL So it could also be a Lynx/Burmese Hybrid. Tho to me that tail seems wrong for a Burmese/Lynx Hybrid. Too thick and rounded. I’ve seen photos of “Mystery” Cats that were plainly a Burmese Cat out for a stroll. This isn’t one of them. I’ll definitely keep a watch on this one.

  28. planettom responds:

    Large house cat.

  29. Gary the Cat responds:

    Nothing but a fat moggy.

  30. kittenz responds:

    I wish I could find a photo of a Siamese cat that I had mumblety-mumble years (lol decades) ago when I was about 11. Richard was the old-type Siamese: he was a huge, hulking cat, weighing 20-plus pounds, with great rounded jowls (he was a tom), and very dark coloring. Siamese-type cats’ coats tend to be darker in colder climates, especially if they live outdoors, and Richard’s fur was almost uniformly a milk chocolate-to-black coffee color, with areas of light color only under his throat and “around the edges”. Richard looked quite a bit like this cat – not quite as dark and a little heftier, but very similar. I really don’t see anything in this photo to suggest that this cat is anything but a domestic.

    That being said, I think that there are so many sightings of wild cats of other species in the UK that there must be at least a few there. Maybe more than one species. African Golden Cats or some similar but unknown species would be a good bet. I don’t think it’s out of the question that lynxes and jungle cats (Felis chaus) live wild there. And of course there are those who swear that pumas and/or leopards are living and breeding wild – maybe; if so, my bet’s on leopards, since they have lived within historic times in southern Europe, and Britain was once contiguous.

    I don’t discount the possibility that pumas could be living wild in Britain, though. Apparently a lot of people who owned “pet” big cats dumped them in rural areas after a “Dangerous Animals” law went into effect, and pumas are very resilient animals, able to prey on both large and small game, and able to hide in very scant cover.

  31. skalogy responds:

    Looks like clipart to me

  32. pitbulllady responds:

    Have ANY of the readers here actually SEEN a real, live fox? I really have to doubt it, based on the comments here. The average weight of an adult male Red Fox is only 8.5 pounds, less than half that of my largest house cat. YouTube is chock-full of videos showing house cats putting the hurt on foxes that wandered into their yards, so it’s not hard to find something with a fox and a cat in it for size comparison. There is absolutely nothing impressive about a cat the size of a fox!
    That said, there’s nothing impressive about the cat in the picture, either. It looks like a typical-albeit overweight-Siamese or other Oriental breed cross. That small, wedge-shaped head with the pointy ears is very typical of such cats, and I’ve had plenty of them over the years. The tail length is right for a domestic, far too long for a Caracal, which has a hock-length tail. Many black cats will experience “rusting” of their fur to brown, especially late in the summer or by fall, before shedding that coat to replace it with the winter coat, due to the bleaching effects of the sun, so the color isn’t odd, either, though the light shading underneath tends to indicate some Burmese genes. I used to keep true exotic cats, including cougars, leopards(both normal and melanistic), Jungle cats(both normal and melanistic), bobcats, Canadian lynx and Caracals, and there’s nothing about this cat that suggests to me that it’s anything odd or unusual. I’ve had foxes, too, and know that there would be nothing odd about a cat the size of a fox, which would not even be large by alley cat standards.

  33. shumway10973 responds:

    the face and coloring is that of a Burmese, but the few I’ve encountered aren’t so muscular. I think this one is a mix of a domesticated gone feral Burmese and something near to the Puma family. The muscle tone in the hind end plus the tail point towards puma. It does boggle the mind as to how the event was successful, but I’ve known other animals where size (normally) would definitely have kept them apart get together and mate, producing a grand mixture of pretty, kinda cute and you poor thing looking babies. If anyone knows of a cat that is smaller than anything in the puma family, but has the same look around the hind quarters and tail, then that’s probably your candidate.

  34. sasquatch responds:

    I just checked a website about the Red Fox-weight 6.5 to 24 pounds…So I think 8.5 for an adult male fox is a very low estimate…I’d say closer to 18.5-20 sounds reasonable. With the 24 being reserved for a few exceptional specimens.
    But back to the cat picture…Again it does not look like any house cat I’ve ever seen.
    I would be interested in seeing a photo(s) of some of these monsters that folks are claiming to have/had…But not lying on the living room floor; rather- Standing outside in profile by a field and bushes with semi long grass under it’s feet…Then we’ll put it next to this one like Loren did with the pics of the frozen “bigfoot” and the commercial costume.

  35. kittenz responds:

    pitbulllady,

    I have seen and handled foxes from the time I was a child. My aunt had a wild female gray fox who would come to the back walk and take crackers from our hands. Later, in the course on my uhfolding career, I handled dozens of the little fellows, even handraising some on bottles, and later as part of a rescue and release group, actually rehabilitating captured or wounded animals an re-releasing the (wherever possible).

    Most red foxes are about the size of a large tomcat. They look bigger to the casual observer, because they are proportioned differently. There are some abnormally large foxes, but most cases of a Giant Fox are way exaggerated.

  36. Point Radix responds:

    I would go along with “domestic cat”

    The size looks bigger because the tree behind it is (consciously or otherwise) being used for comparison; but there is no way of gauging the actual size of the tree, or for that matter the distance between it and the cat.

    The appearance of the hind leg as having unusual proportion could be in part the angle of the photograph. Since it is obvious that the cat has turned around to look at the person taking the picture, the hind leg is likely to be closer to the photographer.

    Further to that, based on how the grass looks, it appears that the camera is only a few inches off the ground, and as such, can create distort spatial perceptions of how the photograph is interpreted.

  37. Shelley responds:

    I thought about trying to take an ambiguous picture of my giant guy, but he is not allowed outside and if I tried to pose him outside he would be off like a shot and very hard to corral. With his classic tabby tuxedo looks there would be no doubt what kind of cat he is anyway.

    I recently saw a repeat of a show on cable TV which had a section on ABC. A farmer in Australian shot and killed a large black cat who had been killing his dogs and other livestock. He hung the body from a tree and it was 48 inches from nose to tail, and it weighed 44 kilos. The DNA test took a long time coming back, but the cat was found to be the same genetic code as a domestic house cat. So their question was is there something going on with the house cat in terms of evolving into a larger type given wild living and copious food. That would explain a lot with both British and American ABC, and even some of these very large pet cats that people are reporting.

    Somehow I just can’t see this picture being of a fox of any kind–they have that dainty look about them in the muzzle and paw, which this girl does not have. I have seen a fox slightly larger than any house cat, but we have a lot of cross breeding between coyotes and foxes and dogs, so we never know what we are seeing.

  38. Cashel responds:

    Pitbulllady, you’re absolutely right! I’ve personally seen and tracked foxes, and they’re significantly smaller than any cat I’ve owned. I’m an outdoorsman, I know what I’m talking about.

    My 20lb Cymric male shares alot of features with the cat in the picture, only larger! I would say that this “mystery cat” is a 8-12lb male house cat.

    The sunlight and the ruffling of the fur create the illusion of heavy muscles on the hind leg.

    The idea that the ears point to any type of wild cat is preposterous. Lynx and bobcats have ears that are nothing like those.

    For crying out loud, this is just a plain old cat!

  39. Shelley responds:

    I cross posted the link to this picture to a cat forum elsewhere, and so far all responses have been old-style Siamese cat or Siamese mixed with something else, perhaps a larger kind of wild cat. Not sure if that is even possible, but the overwhelming response has been domestic cat, not exotic panther. Plus a few people loved this site and will be checking it out from now on.

    I know that Kent is a long way from Scotland, but there is a population of Scottish wild cats still up there? Is it possible that they have bred with the abundant domestic cats and become a larger and more vigorous breed? It is interesting that there are so many reports of ABC in Britain when they have another small wild cat that apparently can breed with the domestic cat.

  40. kittenz responds:

    Amen, Cashel !

  41. kentbigcats responds:

    I’ve monitored the specific area where this cat was photographed. I’m surprised at the amount of inconsistent theories with regards to the animal, and I think many are being confused by the face which I don’t believe is a stripe, but possibly a mouse or rabbit in its mouth. It’s certainly a large cat, not domestic but we must take inconclusive evidence with a pinch of salt. I know for a fact that there is a puma in the area and sightings date back to the 1800s in the area. It’s certainly NOT a fox or dog.

  42. ctinn responds:

    I have a domestic short hair that weighs 21 lbs. and looks EXACTLY like a miniture panther.His body is built very much like this and his under coat is striped,so inthe right light the stripes appear more pronounced than they actually are.I am actually suprised how much alike this cat is to mine.

  43. chat-garou responds:

    Looks to have the build of a cougar and maybe the size(hard to tell), but the color is way off. The only cat to have that dark rust color and no markings is a jaguarundi, but the body is way too stocky for that.

    You know, what it really looks like to me is a Bornean Bay cat, but there really aren’t enough pictures of them in existence to reference, and they are so rare even in their home territory I can’t see any plausible way for them to end up here.

    I think that everyone else is probably right and it’s just a great big old house cat.

  44. Kit_Seraphina responds:

    I’d like to give my two cents here. But has anyone thought it might be a bengal cat? They are house cats but much larger then a normal cat reacing I believ 5ft in length, Not sure though. I do agree with alot of people here it doesn’t seem to be a large cat. But the picture is blurred so who knows what it is. Either way it’s getting bolder.

  45. SassyGirl responds:

    I have two ideas about what that cat could be. Assuming the picture is real, I’m sorry but there are many fakes going around of various ‘mystery animals’.

    1) Here in Nova Scotia there is a pocket of feral cats that are said to grow to the size of a smaller medium sized dog. I’ve seen some, though not ones quite that big, and let me tell you they are BIG. There could be a similar pocket of unusually large feral cats there.

    2) To me the body shape of that cat pictured is very reminiscent of a mountain lion, though you say it’s smaller than that. It’s hard to tell in that picture though. I remember a while back there was this big fuss about a mystery cat out west, either Manitoba or Ontario. Some papers were questioning whether or not saber toothed tigers were real or not and posting pictures tiger type cat. Eventually animal control caught it; it was a juvanile bangle tiger that was believed to have been someones illegal exotic pet, no zoos or animal rescue parks in the area reported any missing animals. This could be someones escaped exotic pet, not reported because it’s illegal.

  46. Gwyther responds:

    I have read threads on several sites regarding this cat and the fact that there is nothing to gauge the cats size by comes up again and again.
    However this is not correct, i have spent a large part of my life roaming the British country side and i am familiar with pretty much all of it’s flora and fauna, the tall plants behind the cat with the fluffy seed heads are almost definitely Rose bay willow herb, this plant grows to approx. 4 feet tall. The cat is obviously stood several feet away from the plants, so using this to gauge the cats size, it would suggest that this cat is not particularly large at all, not even fox size, at most only a little larger than an average domestic cat. From it’s appearance a feral domestic would seem most likely.



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