“Big” Ohio Cat?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on December 12th, 2005

Another “big” (?) black cat sighting has occurred in Ohio, this time with video being produced. Channel 10-TV, WBNS in Columbus, Ohio has the footage at their website.

Rufus Hurst of Granville took the videotape of the black felid form in a forest-like setting.

What do you think it looks like? The captured image appears to show a black domestic cat, at least in my first scan. But we aren’t going to reproduce an image from the videotape here for copyright reasons. Look at it quickly. Photos like this disappear quickly from the internet.

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.

17 Responses to ““Big” Ohio Cat?”

  1. 2400bc responds:

    I suppose it could have been a black cougar instead of just a “big cat”, even though it looked like a big domestic cat, because as a cougar is growing up it reaches a point where it does look like a big cat, but it continues to grow even larger as it reaches maturity.

    It may have been a juvenile cougar is what I’m saying.

  2. TheGoodReverend responds:

    I think the photographer hit it right on. “Just a big, big cat.” I think it’s like that recent big cat in Australia that turned out to be just a supersized feral cat.

  3. AfterShock responds:

    According to easterncougarnet.org, “the fact remains that never in recorded history has a truly black cougar been photographed, captured, killed or otherwise factually documented.” That’s because they don’t exist!

    It’s definitely a large domestic cat. Nothing cryptid here, unfortunately!

  4. purrlcat responds:

    It just isn’t built like a cougar. Looks more like a very big domestic cat. But I still don’t know how these ‘feral’ type domestic cats get so big. Being feral, they usually don’t live very long due to poor health. How could one get so big? I mean, unless it is ‘crossed’ with something big. Which still leaves the possibility of some ABC in the area?? Well, anyway, I don’t care – I just WANT ONE!! My biggest only weighs 16 lbs.

  5. Brindle responds:

    That is a good question. Does anybody know how feral cats can get sooooo big? The Kellas cat was a hybrid but didn’t become a monster.

  6. Rick Noll responds:

    It doesn’t look like a Lynx, or Bobcat. The neck is too long and there are no cheek tuffs.

    It also doesn’t look like a Cougar with that less than pronounced nose yet large head to body ratio and rather flabby looking body. Just what it is resting on may be the real mystery here. I would think a cougar seen in trees and branches like these would be vertically positioned, clawing at the biggest of the trunks against gravity and upwards of 150 pounds.

    What is strange is that the front part of the picture… to the right of the small tree trunk… shows the animal at rest. The left side or rear of the animal makes it look like it is moving with the hindquarters and tail out for balance.

    The still shown in the article is obviously from a news video clip so the quality isn’t the best… but I bet any follow-up done by the local authorities will have it turn out to just be a domestic animal.

  7. Crystalwren responds:


    We’ve been receiving reports of massive feral cats in Australia for some time, but while there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence there has been very little by way of actual proof, i.e, no one has rocked up to the newspaper office with a beast, or even just a hide or skull under their arm saying, “Hey, look what I caught!” (I did see the recent photograph of a supposed monster cat- I have my doubts, there.) Nevertheless, stories keep circulating about monsters six foot from nose to tail, and new ones keep reappearing, not to mention there are occasional infrequent attacks on farm animals that have all the calling cards of big cat predation. With breeding and time any animal species can greatly increase and change their size and shape and still be a full, viable member of their race.

    Compare, for example, a Chihuahua to a Great Dane. They are both dogs, both members of the canine species although you certainly wouldn’t think it to look at them. In theory, size considerations and other practicalities aside, a pair can produce viable offspring with a mingling of both their parents’ physical traits, who in turn can pass those same traits to their offspring and so on and so forth. Of course, these animals are the products of extreme artificial selection; the common feral housecat is a product of extreme natural selection.

    When considering the physical characteristics of any animal, native or no, you must also consider their environment. The Australian feral housecat is very tough creature because it has to be. The environment in which they live is very, very unforgiving. A housecat also breeds very frequently with largish litters; any evolution and/or mutation is going to have a helping hand there. In Australia, there are many things that are going to influence the evolution of the feral cat, and one of the main ones is that there is no living marsupial predator equivalent like the thylacine was the equivalent of a canine. (The dingos wiped them out on the mainland anyway.) Add to that the influx of cat’s traditional prey animals, rabbits, feral rats, birds etc, and the native animals simply aren’t programmed to deal with a fast-moving large predator like it- the quoll, the native spotted cat just doesn’t compete, although I’ve been told that some of the larger goannas have a lot going for them- it’s got plenty of food, plenty of space and no real competition, especially up high where dingos, other wild dogs and foxes can’t reach. Logically, it’s going to get bigger.

    On the other hand, Australia is an unforgiving place and no matter how you look at it, there isn’t much food outside of human inhabited areas and there is a lot of associated situational stress on the animal besides. And inside human-inhabited areas it makes more sense to be small and unseen so as to avoid human persecution. Logically, it’s going to get smaller, and the feral cats that have actually been trapped to support this theory.

    My point? With a fast-breeding feral animal in a highly stressful and competitive environment, mutation is quick and the quickest mutation of all is size variation, aside from the natural and unnatural selection of various advantageous types of coat camouflage. So the appearance of very large feral cats is theoretically very possible, even, in some case, likely.

    As for keeping a super-sized feral cat as a pet, you might want to keep in mind that another successful trait for these beasties to have would be viciousness and astonishingly frightening hunting abilities. Not quite the sort of moggy you’d want curled up beside your fire. Personally, I’d stick to an ordinary-sized one.

  8. shovethenos responds:


    There’s some controversy about very dark-colored (outside normal tawny color phase) and melanistic (black) cougars.

    Scroll down to “Puma Mutations”. See the picture of the dead animal with the characteristic long cougar tail.

    Most of the darker ones have been documented in Central and South America. One of the theories is that isolated populations become inbred and produce the darker mutations. Can’t vouch for the accuracy of the site linked above, but it seems fairly well documented with some citations.

  9. AfterShock responds:


    On the website you’ve linked to us, the dead animal you’re referencing is a leopard. Looking closely, I can even see the spots. And I’m definitely not buying this guy’s description of these animals from 1749! I’d wager that over half of the big cat species on earth at that time had yet to be discovered, let alone identified as separate species, so I think he was most likely describing a leopard. He’s labeled them all as “tigers,” so that doesn’t lead me to believe that he’s the foremost expert on big cats, either.

    With that said, I’m not completely ruling out the possibility of a “freak occurance” of one black cougar, somewhere remotely isolated in the toughest of environments, as a result of generations of inbreeding. It’s just not likely that there would be enough of these mutations around, let alone in Columbus, Ohio, to be documented and genetically identified as genuine black cougars.

    As far as the North American Black Panther (or NABP, as this website suggests) sightings, any zoology buff can assure you that there are no such animals as black panthers. This is an improper labeling of a leopard. And, in actually, if one looks closely at a supposed “black panther,” you can indeed see the color variations or spots that distinguish the leopard from other cats.

    I’m sticking to my guns on this one. It’s just a big alley cat!

  10. frox responds:

    Given most observer’s propensity to over estimate size I wondered how difficult it would have been to get a more accurate estimate of size than that given by the man who took the picture from 180 yards away.
    In the video, the reporter was standing behind a tree in the same spot as the cat.
    The spot on the tree at the highest point of the cat’s back was knee high to the reporter, who stated that he is 5’10”.
    I am 6′ tall, so for comparison I measured the height of MY knee and got 18″.
    A rough rule of thumb for average domestic cat dimensions is that the height at shoulder is equivalent to the length of tail, and is one half of the body length. Thus the cat in the photo would probably be about four an a half feet long (stretched out, nose to tail)
    Just for comparison, a large male red fox measures 14.5 inches tall at the shoulder and is 37 inches long, nose to tail tip.
    Here’s a quote from The Guiness book of records:
    Verismo’s Leonetti Reserve Red – otherwise known as Leo – is a Maine Coon cat owned by Frieda Ireland and Carroll Damron of Chicago. Normally a large breed, Maine Coons often weigh as much as 10 kg (22 lb), but Leo weighs in at a mog-nificent 15.8 kg (35 lb) and measures a record-breaking 121.9 cm (48 in) from nose to tail.

    So if my estimate of the height is off by as little as two inches, (which is not unlikely, give that I don’t know how far the reporter and the cat are from the tree in front) then the cat would be just on the same size.

    Since the cat left tracks in the snow, it would seem rather simple to take measurements of it’s stride, wouldn’t it?

  11. shovethenos responds:


    I wasn’t commenting on the OH cat, it certainly looks very domestic. (Although the tail is pretty long.) Especially since the DNA analysis on the large feral cat found in Australia is allegedly from a domestic cat. I was just stating that there is some evidence to suggest black or dark-colored cougars.

    The dead animal is not a leopard. Leopards are not indigenous to the Americas, so if it was shot in the Americas from the size it could technically only be a jaguar or puma. (Or an undiscovered/undocumented species or subspecies.) The animal appears too long-limbed and lean to be a Jaguar, Jaguars are stocky and squatter. I don’t think those are spots in the photograph, but imperfections in the original picture or the scanning/publication process. That’s not to say it couldn’t have faint spots like some mutant leopards or jaguars do, I just don’t think they would be visible in the photo.

    As far as an 18th Century naturalist calling undocumented or unclassified big cats “tigers”, that isn’t too unusual. It’s possible that formal classifications hadn’t really been worked out yet and standardized.

    “Panther” is one of the many names for pumas or cougars. So saying that an animal is a “black panther” is the same as saying its a “black cougar”. As stated above: (1) If the animal pictured was shot in the Americas it is a jaguar, puma, or cryptid – not a leopard. (2) The long lanky appearance makes it unlikely that it is a jaguar. (3) I don’t believe those are spots visible in the dark fur of the photo, but if they were that would be even more anomalous, since adult cougars don’t have spots. (Although juveniles do.)

  12. frogman1975 responds:

    In the photo shown on the broadcast you can see a very distinctive tree with three trunks that appears to be immediately behind the cat (left side of photo) as well as a ggod sized branch in front of the cat.
    I wonder if anyone in the area has bothered to measure the tree for comparison?
    They claimed that tracks were found (with pads no larger than a penny), so if tracks show the cats exact path of travel, and the distinctive tree can be located, it shouldn’t be too hard to determine an approximate size.

  13. smartypants responds:

    That is a “Catamount”/Panther! Trust me!

  14. shovethenos responds:

    Misspoke in that earlier post – cougar kittens supposedly lose their spots after 6mos or so. This would make the animal pictured at the link all the more anomalous if it had visible spots under a dark coat.

  15. dianaward responds:

    I saw recently online a photo of an adult cougar that had retained its spots, so it is obviously possible.

    As for the trees in the Ohio cat pix, in the news video the reporter goes and stands near the trees for just that purpose. The cat is huge, but both the Ragdoll and the Maine Coon domestic cat breeds have been recorded at nearly that size. That is a domestic cat – the outline of a domestic cat is nothing like the outline of even juvenile cougars.

  16. cujoe82 responds:

    ok take my comment how ever you will i just frankly want to put my two sence in on this one since it kinda strikes close to home for me. ok first i do think it was a bg cat IE non-domesticated cat. though it could have mixed breeding includind domestic cat heritage. the muzzle is much to short for it to be a pure bred cougar, puma, or mountain lion what ever your favorite may be. how ever if it’s a feral thats ansecsters have been breeding with other larger cats it could be a large cat with domestic cat features. when i was a child we had a cat who was half tabby and half bob cat he was a calico being brown grey and orange, he didn’t have the clasic turle shell of his mother or the spots of his father he was striped and but what hits me so personaly looking at this picture vs. my memories of nermal (the kittens name)is that from the spine down to his stomach the colors got lighter and if you look closer at this picture you will notice that the fur showing at the hip joint of the rear legs the color of the fur is almost orange. also a previous comment mentioned that ferals don’t live long this is a very common misdconceptions a ferral animal can and normaly will live as long if not longer then a domesticated animal provided they have an ample food supply and avoid areas of high traffic. and if this cat is as i have theorised from a line of ferals breeding with domestic/big cat hybrids or larger ferals as is nature (all females look for larger and stronger mates) then the offspring will inevitably be larger and if there is a continuing breeding of big cats then over the course of say 8 or 10 generation (bare in mind this could feasably happen in the time frame of about 7 years) then you could infact have an animal that looks like a domestic ferral but is comprable in size to the american big cats. it’s nature and survival. i have seen it for myself that domestics will mate with the big cats if and when it’s possable (though i do warn you if you try to force a breeding like this you may end up having your domestic killed and if not and the domestic becomes pregnant she will most likely only have one “cub” per litter and may not survive giving birth)

  17. John A. Lutz responds:

    BLACK panthers, aka pumas, cougars have been documented in pictures, but are very rare. On our website is a picture of a BLACK panther that was filmed in upper Montour County, Pa in 1978 by a deputy law enforcment officer at 1,000 feet. It was 1st observed with a naked eye, NOT thru binoculars, as skeptical & questionable ‘scientists’ have claimed to confuse the issue. (Place a housecat size animal in a field with 12-18 inch high grass, then walk back from it for 1,000 feet & see if U can see it with the naked eye).
    NO logical reason exists why cougars, mountain lions or pumas cannot be BLACK. Of all North American mountain lions seen in the last 55 years, 30% are BLACK! I personnally have seen 2 BLACK panthers since 1975 & NEITHER were 70 pound black housecats. (Hundreds of reports each year are by trained wildlife observers, who know what animal they are seeing, so don’t be fooled by arrogant skeptics trying to confuse the issue with worthless claims of NO Black Cougars).

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