Patio Puma

Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 16th, 2008

I’ve received the following four photos so many times lately, I figured I better address the flow of alerts to me about them. The email usually is labeled “Kitty, Kitty, Kitty.” The location is given as someplace familiar and near you. I saw copies of these, wow, first about five years ago. It is amazing they are making a return appearance.

Therefore, let me just mention them here as they are not what they seem to be.

patio puma1

patio puma2

patio puma3

patio puma4

These are nothing more than what must be termed an internet rural legend!

I guess some would call them a hoax.

They are not startling photographic proof of the return of the eastern panther in whatever location your email sent you told you. They were, instead, taken in Wyoming. Read more here and at the end of this negative article about “panther paranoia.”

The unfortunate whiplash of these photographs is that they tend to make it harder for real eyewitnesses of actual eastern mystery cats to be taken seriously.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. 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. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

19 Responses to “Patio Puma”

  1. kittenz responds:

    I’ve received these photos, at last count, eight times with six different locations given for the “sighting”, from New York (2 places) to Pennsylvania (2 places) to West Virginia to right here in Kentucky. Always the sender says the puma was sighted east of the Mississippi. I get these so often I feel like creating a special form letter to reply to them.

    The maddening part is, some people refuse to believe the truth about them, even with documentation.

  2. olejason responds:

    What part of KY are you in kittenz?

    I grew up in eastern ky and always heard the tales of large black ‘panthers’ in the woods but I’ve also read a few accounts of brown cougars in the state. Seems like there was a confirmed sighting up around Covington a few years ago. I’m not sure if that cat was ever confirmed to be a runaway or not though.

    I live in Louisville now… not much wildlife to speak of at all, other than the rowdy teenagers.

  3. Bob Michaels responds:

    Eastern Puma could very well still exist in Ontario, New York, Vt and Maine, at least I hope so.

  4. mystery_man responds:

    Kittenz- I think you are right. For those that hold out a desperate hope that these are in fact photos of an Eastern puma, there is unfortunately probably very little to convince them otherwise. Even when presented with the hard evidence and facts, some are going to hold on to the notion that these photos are something else. This very same thing is seen in a lot of instances with debunked cryptozoology photos or things pertaining to the supernatural. For the true believers, they are going to believe what they want regardless of any rational facts to dispute their ideas. It certainly is maddening.

    I agree completely with Loren that these sorts of situations hurt the overall credibility of eyewitnesses and photographic evidence presented pertaining to cryptids. These hoaxes muddy the waters, so to speak, and just make it a lot more difficult not only for us to weed out the fake reports from the potentially real ones, but also for such reports to be taken seriously in the first place. I think this in turn deters some people from coming forward with their own sightings or pictures. Another unfortunate consequence is that other hoaxers see the stir these cause and go out and want to create their own, which leads to even more problems and deterioration of the credibility of cryptozoology as a whole.

    I’m very glad this hoax was exposed. In my opinion, every hoax is a burden to the field especially when, like Kittenz and I mentioned, some people are going to swallow it hook, line, and sinker. And the longer the hoax has time to circulate and convince people, the harder it is to reverse the damage. I think it is absolutely necessary to uncover these hoaxes immediately, rationally debunk them, and hopefully show the hoaxers that they don’t always fool us.

  5. Spinach Village responds:

    These Pictures are misrepresented as being from the east. Never the less I feel that there are established eastern/ midwestern populations (I’m not talking official subspecies necessarily, but simply cougars).

    ps. when the cat above is growling its personality is funny

  6. eireman responds:

    The devious little Catch-22 to all this is that the more we bring these things to the public consciousness through the media and cyberspace, the more likely we are to encounter hoaxers and the delusions of fantasy-prone personalities. I guess it is the never-ending struggle to separate the wheat from the chaff. 🙁

  7. squatch-toba responds:

    I actualy got these sent to me about a wek ago, for the 6th time in the last 4 years or so. I’ve been told, via E-mail that they were from S.Dakota, B.C., N.Manitoba, and the last time from Oklahoma. They are from Montana. Too bad this stuff gets so out of hand,…and out of place!!

  8. squatch-toba responds:

    Sorry for the typo’ above. The pictures WERE taken in Wyoming, not Montana as I said above.

  9. kittenz responds:

    I am completely convinced that the Eastern Puma exists and that they never went completely extinct; I saw one myself near Cave Run Lake in eastern Kentucky several years ago, and a puma kitten, determined to be wild and not a tame escapee, was killed on the highway in Floyd County, KY, in the late 1990s.

    It was early last year (January) when the puma sightings occurred near Covington. The Cryptomundo story is at this link. Just recently, a couple of weeks ago, there there were reports of possible puma sightings not far from Middlesboro, KY, near the Tennessee border. WKYT/WYMT television, out of Lexington, reported that, but the video that accompanied the report looked more like a domestic cat than a puma to me.

    I live in Pike County, KY, about 12 miles from the border with West Virginia. My grandmother says that it was widely accepted that panthers lived “back in the hills” (near the rocky outcrops and laurel glens at the mountaintops and heads of hollows) in her youth. She says that her father, who was an old-time “hill doctor” (herb doctor), was not overly concerned with the black bears that also lived in the woods, but he would never go into the hills without taking an axe in case he ran across a panther. They would not readily attack a grown man who was carrying a staff or an axe , but children were another matter. They were not allowed to go into the woods alone. She said that (although it happened before she herself was born), her father once had to use his axe to chase away a panther that was stalking her older sister. “Panther” was the term they used for pumas. They were killed whenever possible and were considered dangerous to people although they rarely ever ventured down near human habitation.

    I hope that, now that most people here do not have to depend on the livestock they raise for sustenance, a more enlightened attitude will prevail when pumas are finally proven to exist in eastern Kentucky, and that they will be protected and not persecuted.

    There are anecdotal reports of pumas still living all through the Appalachians. Most of them are probably misidentifications, tall tales or wishful thinking; nearly every “holler” has its “enormous black panther” living in the wilderness at the head of it. Legends of them abound, but in separating legend from fact, it’s important not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. I have no doubt that pumas still inhabit the wilder parts of the eastern mountains, and their numbers are gradually increasing. It’s only a matter of time until it will be proven.

  10. mystery_man responds:

    Kittenz- I think the Eastern puma exists too. My post might not have been clear, and I might have misunderstood what you were saying. I was addressing people’s refusal to accept that a piece of evidence is false, NOT people’s refusal to accept that the Eastern puma exists, which is what I now realize was what you were talking about. I in no way meant to say that it was maddening that people think the puma exists, but rather that it is maddening that people sometimes embrace faulty evidence no matter what. What I was saying was that some people will not accept evidence that some reports and some photos like the ones here are not real and may go on convinced that they are, as I’m sure there are people who still think these photos are genuine. I think this is dangerous to the credibility of real photos and reports, and directs us away from the investigation of legitimate evidence. I did not mean to discount the existence of the Eastern puma. I’m sorry if it seemed like I was, and I apologize for misreading your post.

  11. olejason responds:

    kittenz – I grew up in Knott Co so we’re not so far from each other. Small crypto-world eh?

  12. Saint Vitus responds:

    Every once in a while, I hear reports of cougars in Alabama. Maybe these are intergrades between the Eastern Cougar and the Florida Panther?

  13. Alligator responds:

    Hello folks. There is another photo that frequently makes the email rounds of a huge mountain lion. You can find the picture at

    The article says a deer hunter in Kansas shot it, but when I got the email, it said it was shot near Versailles, Missouri which down the road from us a piece. Since it is illegal to shoot lions in Missouri (except for defense of life or property) this was investigated but quickly dispelled. The photo is genuine, but it turns up in about every state of the union as having been shot there. As it has been pointed out, doing these kinds of things only hinders the ability to determine if a sighting is legitimate or not. Because of the hoaxes, the initial tendency of authorities is to be overly skeptical unless there is hard, physical evidence to go with the sighting. Thanks to Photoshop, even photographic “evidence” now has to undergo a level of scrutiny not necessary 15 or 20 years ago.

    If you want to keep track of the population rebound of the cougar into the Midwest and Eastern states, check out “Breaking News” and the “Confirmations Page” at the the Eastern Cougar Network:

    By the way, a wild cougar has just been confirmed in southern Wisconsin, the first confirmation for that state since around 1920. Eastern Canadian provinces now have several confirmations. Another ten years and we’ll be able to determine with certainty if these are becoming breeding populations (which I think they are).

  14. DARHOP responds:

    My dad was born and raised in Hellier Kentucky. I remember him talking about what he called Panters. I said dad, don’t you mean Panthers. He said where I grew up we called em Panters. ( pronounced painters )
    Anybody else ever hear of em called Panters?

  15. Saint Vitus responds:

    I have heard the term “painters”, I can’t remember where though.

  16. kittenz responds:

    LOL, “paint-ther” is what my grandmother and all the older folks around here say when they mean “panther”. Mostly they pronounce it just like that, but sometimes they say “painter” without pronouncing the “th”.

    Yes it’s a small world – hi y’all ! I guess you guys know what I mean when I say that eastern Kentucky has some ideal puma habitat and lots of natural prey now that deer, elk, and turkeys have become abundant again!

    I didn’t misunderstand your post, mystery_man. We’ve often discussed eastern pumas before and I know that you don’t discount the possibility that they exist. I agree with you wholeheartedly. That’s what I meant when I said it’s important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater: hoaxes like the one exposed in this post, that circulate over and over, cause genuine sightings to be taken less seriously. Many people, who otherwise might be willing to consider some sightings credible, view all evidence of eastern pumas as fake because so many hoaxes are floating around the internet.

  17. helgarde responds:

    Kittenz, I used to live in Huntington, and wandered around the tri-state area a lot in my youth. I grew up half in Charleston, West Virginia, and half on a farm in Putnam county, so I know what you mean about the habitat in the hills and hollows around your area.

    My ex-husband and I had a puma dash in front of our car in SE Ohio, near Ironton, at about two am as we were driving home to Huntington from Columbus one night about, oh, nineteen years ago. We both saw him in our headlights as plain as day, because he stopped in front of us and my ex had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting him. The big cat laid his ears back, lashed his tail, snarled and then dashed off in a great bound–a beautiful, if terrifying sight. Terrifying mostly because we could have hit and killed such a lovely beast.

    Now I live in Athens, Ohio, but when we lived in a rural area just east of Columbus, when my daughter and I were walking in the woods, in the snow a few days before Christmas we found a pair of huge cat pawprints. The day previously, I had noticed clawmarks, like a cat had stood up on her hind paws to scratch at the bark–just like a housecat would do, but the marks were much farther apart and wider than either a bobcat or a housecat would do, and they were higher off the ground. But, after I saw the pawprints, I took my daughter to look at those claw marks and we got my husband to show him. And we all agreed it looked more like a puma than a bobcat was there.

    A few nights later we heard a puma scream. A very, very distinctive sound, louder than a bobcat.

    So, yeah, I figure there are a few of them around here, and when I see photos like the above I get really cranky, because when I have told folks what I have found or experienced, they always think I am nuts. But, you know–I have seen bobcats and I know what they look like, and I have had cats in my house all my life and I know how big they get, and I can certainly tell the difference between cat and dog prints. So when hoaxes like this go out and about it ticks me off.

  18. Absentia responds:

    I agree that internet scams lessen peoples real interest in things. Any kind of scam always makes people a lot less ready to believe when the real thing comes along, but I do believe that anything is possible. I live in the middle of Washington, DC, nearly light years away from any sort of ‘real’ wildlife, yet on several occations I have seen raccoons, and even once a deer. How it managed to make it unnoticed into the heart of the city I will never understand. Also even on one or two occations I have seen large white winged roaches not unlike ones that are only found in madagasgar (sp?) and tropical places, and being where I was and knowing the area and people I can nearly be 100% sure it was noone’s pet roach making a dash for freedom.

    My point in short is that nothing should ever truely be discredited until all the evidence and proof possible can be gathered. The world is a HUGE place and noone has yet, or probably will ever see and know everything there is to discover. New speices are born everyday and ones that have yet to be discovered are already going extinct, someone might just see some unknown animal and it may very well be the last of its kind, never to be seen again. Such people are blessed and I would be happy to be one of those few, wether anyone beleived me or not in the end.

  19. Broon Ward responds:

    Hey everyone,
    I live in north East TN. and my family has lived in this area for over 100 years. In the early 60’s my Dad had a face to face encounter with a puma,
    near Hampton TN. in the wilderness area called Dennis Cove. He was cooking bacon and biscuits about 5 a.m. one morning when a Puma came out of the brush. He threw his bacon at it and it grabbed the meat and left! No lie! my Dad is the most honest man I have ever met, and would never fabricate a tale like this. It is TRUTH! Oh and the old folks call them “painters” here too!

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