Black California Wildcat?

by Anna
(Northern California)

About ten years ago, I was on a bike ride with my father and sisters and saw the strangest feline.

We were riding through Bidwell Park in Chico, CA, which is a large, natural city park.

We were somewhat between the Upper (most wild) and Lower (more urban) portions and it was around 5 or 6pm.

The cat was larger than any domestic cat I’ve seen, but nowhere near the size of a mountain lion, which are occasionally seen in the area.

It was solid black or perhaps a very dark brown, had a smallish head in proportion to it’s body, quite rounded ears, exceptionally long tail (at least 1.5 times the length of the body- and it was fairly thick).

The cat probably weighed as much as a medium dog, maybe around 30-40lbs. I definitely startled it and it quickly bolted with the graceful slink of your usual feline.

A few years later, my parents purchased a lot directly across the street from the area where I saw this cat.

I haven’t seen it again, but my father, who was perhaps a bit skeptical of my story at first, has seen a cat that matches this description on a few occasions, usually at or after dusk. He has even gotten within several yards of it laying in the grass beyond their fence. We have not gotten any picture of it though!

The environment we have seen it in is: rural (only three houses in the area and all on acreage, though one decently busy road); partly forested with oaks, cottonwood, and silver pine; tall grass; lots of scrubby brush like elderberry, willow, grape vine, etc; and a creak that runs through the whole area.

Other wildlife present include deer, raccoons, skunks, jack rabbits, coyote, occasionally a lone wolf, and once mountain lion tracks were spotted around the corral of a neighbor’s mare and her newborn foal (examined by Fish and Game who requested we shoot the lion if seen- I don’t think the tracks were from the mystery black cat because they were WAY too large- think desert plate), and plenty of birds, reptiles, rodents, and insects. Also, my parents have a very small and now old domestic feline, and the neighbors have one large dog that is usually inside, and a few horses.

Any idea what this cat could be? The closest match I’ve found so far is the Jaguarundi, but this cat had a longer tail than any Jaguarundi image I have seen, and the tail was thicker.

The head was awkwardly small for it’s body (compared to a domestic cat) with rounded ears like the Jaguarundi and ocelot. Perhaps a mutant Jaguarundi, since Northern California is quite a bit isolated from the species’ reported Central American range. Also, the Jaguarundi seems smaller than our mystery cat of around 30-40lbs. Any ideas?

Anna

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Black California Wildcat?

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May 02, 2012 I just saw one today
by: Sue Glad to have found your comments. Today in Navato, CA I saw a very, very large, pure black cat, small head, short bob tail, long neck somewhere between 30-45 lbs, did not appear to have the high back legs like a bob cat, seemed to have longer hair on legs. I thought at first it was a groomed standard sized poodle, until it tuned and I saw it had a cat head. It was much larger than my 30 lb dog. It crossed a 4 lane street, stopped to glare at a car going by and then disappeared into a drainage ditch, lots of rabbits in the area by the way and deer crossing is common as well.

Never saw anything like this before but will keep my eyes open and a camera handy for next time.

What is this cat?


Apr 16, 2012 Re: Runty mountain lion
by: Anna You should try to bring a camera when you walk in the area again! The animal you describe sounds to me like a young mountain lion. They have a sandy color coat from afar, but if you see their fur more closely, a full grown cat has a ticked coat (each hair is banded with multiple colors), and can often have a bridle appearance. Additionally, they are born with spotted coats that go through stages as they mature.
There have been a couple of young cougars in my area that sadly had to be euthanized because they strolled down into the city portion of Bidwell Park and showed no fear of humans, making relocation dangerous. This is one of the sad side effects of top predators existing so close to urban areas.
There are bobcats near my house that exhibit behavior similar to what you mention. They are not shy at all around people, dogs, etc. I believe it is because they have grown up in the woods so close to us that they are used to seeing us just as they are used to seeing deer, squirrels, etc. One day my husband and I were walking our 3 dogs (75lbs Golden, 65lb Weimaraner, and 20lb JRT) when the Weimaraner started straining on her leash and wining. I looked to my left and not 15 yards away was a full grown bobcat perched on a rock in a neighbor’s pasture just staring at us. I passed dogs off to my husband and approached the fence line to get a closer look. The cat just sat there until I got to within about 20ft of it and then it turned and slowly sauntered off.
Thankfully bobcats aren’t much of a threat to humans. Your cougar, if that is what it is, could surely become a threat as it grows. I would strongly recommend reporting it to your local Fish and Game Department so they will at least know of the cat’s location. Most likely they will come out and inspect the area for tracks, scat, prey remains, and other signs that it is indeed a cougar. Since the area sounds rural, they will probably do nothing to the animal, but will alert other people that it is present. If it’s a more urban area, they may attempt to trap and relocate or euthanize it.
I would also be sure to bring pepper spray or other means of self-defense with you when you walk in that area. It’s always awe inspiring to see such elusive wildlife in their natural habitats, and I feel like they should be left alone as long as they pose no obvious threat, but it is very important that we know they are there and respect them.
I hope you are able to get a photo!
Best,
Anna

Apr 14, 2012 Runty mountain lion?
by: Valerie Several months ago, walking my Rhodesian Ridgeback in Orinda, she became extremely agitated. I searched about for the usual suspects – deer, our local flock of wild turkeys, or my neighbor’s pet peacock. Instead lying at its complete ease not 20 feet from me, in morning winter sunshine lay what I thought was a huge, strangely dull colored bobcat. But at 10 am in broad daylight next to a residential street? I grew up in Vermont and saw bobcats many times while driving or out cross country skiing but usually at dusk and they kept their distance. Anyway after I watched it for aver 5 minutes, my dog barking and yelping and straining at the leash and carrying on, the cat utterly indifferent, that cat stood up. No bobcat. About 35 lbs I would say -my dog is a brawny 65 lbs, so I had some point of reference, what I’d call brindle brown , not spotted, not golden at all, with a thick smooth tail longer than it’s body. It proceeded to slowly saunter away toward the ravine, in what I would describe asa stately and somewhat arrogant manner, slowly swishing its magnificent tail which had dark bands at the end of it,occasionally pausing and looking back over its shoulder at my crazed dog, with utter calm and no fear. A neighbor passed at this time. When i showed this older chinese american man the cat, who walks twice a d ay, he said in his 30years living here he never saw such a car. I saw I saw it again today on the opposite side of the same street, on the lower side of the ravine. It is either a severely stunted or young mountain lion, or some kind of mutant long tailed double size bobcat. Can anyone shed light? Same cool calm behavior, same am sunshine, same stately wildcat walk.

Apr 20, 2011 Black Wild Cat Butte Valley
by: Joel We saw this totally black wildcat/bobcat last week in remote area on Dry Creek Canyon in Butte Valley about 20 miles south of Chico CA. He was roaming in the green grass then climbing the live oaks in playful bliss. His coat was shiny and glistening in the spring sunshine. As previous sightings have stated he is somewhere between a very large domestic cat and a small bobcat. Comparing him to a dog he would be around the size of black Labrador.

Unless there are many solid black bobcats roaming the Butte County area; this one black bobcat has at least a range of 20+ miles compared to the other sightings. He is worth an afternoon drive into the buttes for a quiet look.


Feb 18, 2011 RE: I saw one on sat.. John
by: Anonymous If the cat had a short tail, considering the area, my best guess would not be a Jaguarundi but a melanistic bobcat. Bobcats are prevelant in Northern California, and melanistic ones are just darker in color. Bobcats naturally have spots and a short tail. The Jaguarundi has a much lankier body, very long tail, smaller rounded ears, and a smaller head.

Feb 18, 2011 I saw one on sat..
by: John In powder cyn above hacienda heights..must have been some sort of a cross looked nearly black but actually was dark brown, spotted, with a short tail ~30 lbs…Not sure what it was but it was cool and calm as I approached.

Dec 16, 2010 CA Black Cat
by: barflips I have seen this cat on two occasions. Yesterday morning while walking our dog Sidney, I saw a black cat along our fenced property line; a distance of less than 50 feet. It was considerably larger than a bobcat. It moved slowly, but deliberately and had a long graceful tail. Our Palm Springs community is frequently visited by all manner of smaller wild animals and the occasional coyote.

I saw a similar cat a few weeks ago while driving west on I10 in the Banning area. This cat was crossing eight lanes of interstate traffic, and running to beat the approaching traffic. He made it safely across.


Oct 27, 2010 Jaguarundi in California
by: Joe Sweet About 1968 I was hunting with a friend in rural area outside of Sacramento. We came across a dead animal in the tall grass of an almond orchard. It was an animal that I have never seen before to this day.. . .it was so strange and I never knew what it was until I saw photos of a dark brown jaguarundi on the Internet and videos on You Tube… I would say it was about twice the size of an average domestic house cat, dark brown, long tail, sharp teeth, etc. . . .They say there are no jaguarundi in CA but jaguarundi is the ONLY thing it looked like….it looked just like the photos on the Internet of dark brown jaguarundis.

Oct 13, 2010 Black Cat
by: Kathleen I saw a black cat that looked like a jaguarundi while out running trails in the Jack’s Peak area of Monterey this morning. It was about the size of a small lab and pure black. It had a long tail and smaller head. It was in the path about 70 yards ahead and looked like it was eating when we stopped. It then leapt from the path into the underbrush and trees. It was very svelte and moved like a large cat. It was definitely not a domestic cat!

Oct 01, 2010 Large Wild Black Cat
by: Anonymous I spotted a very large wild black cat this morning, it was smaller than my dog (65 lbs) but larger than a grown bobcat. This cat meets the description of the one you describe, it was strolling along the private road I live on, until it heard me approach then dove into the brush and slinked slowly into the woods, it kept stopping and looking back at my car but stayed low, its tail was thick and long. It’s head was smaller and ears more rounded than a mountain lion. I got a very good look at it until it disappeared into the hollow. It was panther like, but appeared solid black and blended into the shaded woods very well. I live in Northern California.

Sep 23, 2010 Strange cat
by: Ross I saw a cat early this morning that was about the size of a domestic cat but did not at all look like one. It was black had a bushy tail and a very pointed head. It also sat up like a ground squirrel. It was very inquisative and we just looked at each other for several minutes and it strolled away. Could this be a jaguarundi-that is what it looked like but it was smaller.

Sep 23, 2010 Strange cat
by: Ross I saw a cat early this morning that was about the size of a domestic cat but did not at all look like one. It was black had a bushy tail and a very pointed head. It also sat up like a ground squirrel. It was very inquisative and we just looked at each other for several minutes and it strolled away. Could this be a jaguarundi-that is what it looked like but it was smaller.

Aug 27, 2010 Saw one today!!
by: Anonymous I saw a cat that sounds exactly like you described, except it had VERY pointy ears, and it didn’t run like a house cat. It almost galloped. It was much bigger than any house cat I’ve seen. I thought it was a dog at first. My husband and I saw it on Beale AFB, about an hour or so south of Chico. It was in the middle of a huge field and it was trying to blend in to the grass. We get a lot of wildlife on the base (deer, turkeys, coyotes, etc).

Aug 01, 2010 I saw it today
by: Anonymous i saw the same cat today in the millwood OHV area close to sequoia lake. i was riding on my dirtbike and it ran within 20 feet of me. i have never seen anything like that. i was thinking it could have been an exotic cat that exscaped from the cat haven just down the road.

Jul 25, 2010 saw it yesterday
by: Anonymous Saw this yesterday on California hwy 180 out of the Sequoia park. Above 5000 feet. It was all black with a long bushy tail. It was in the road, lept into the brush and then on top of a boulder. Looked at us once (we could see the cat’s face) and then it jumped into the brush. Mind you we were moving at 40 mph or so but it was definitely a cat and definitely all black.

Jul 17, 2010 Interesting
by: Michael I find this post interesting (thanks for visiting and sharing by the way) as another visitor had a similar experience but a bigger cat in Florida and another visitor saw a cat similar to yours in New York.

You have probably checked the wildcat descriptions against the cat you saw and not found a match, the jaguarundi being the closest.

If your description and sighting was good, as I believe it was, then I think you last paragraph carries the answer – a hybrid wild cat of some sort or as you say a mutant. I favour the hybrid.

The jaguarundi range does not extend to California. Its range is central and south America. But someone could have kept one as a pet and/or bred them producing a variety of jaguarundi and releasing it or it escaped.

People in the US do cross breed the wild cats. Breeding lion and tiger is the classic to produce the huge liger. There are others, Leopon — male leopard and female lion is one example. See them here: Hybrid cats.

When cat species are crossed or different breed are crossed you get what is called “hybrid vigor” – larger animals.

There are a number of wildcats that are similar in size to the jaguarundi, see wildcat species by size.

Someone could have cross-bred one with other. This is pure speculation. Sightings of wildcats can be difficult. People sometimes exaggerate the size (but I don’t think that you have). In the UK there is meant to be a black panther wandering around Bodmin Moor in the south west of England that is probably a large back moggie that is an outdoors cat!

Michael Avatar



Comments

Black California Wildcat? — 41 Comments

  1. i saw a jajuarundi this morning about 8:30 AM along Putah Creek just east/downstream of the bridge on Pedrick Rd. next to the UCDavis ag lands. at first i thought feral cat then realized it was too large with a long tail and a beautiful brown color. i was able to watch the cat for about 5 seconds before it walked off. FAR OUT !!!!

    • since this is california, i wouldn’t be surprised if it was an escaped “pet”. there is little doubt in my mind that i did see a jaguarundi…the color, leg length relative to body length, looong tail, size and body shape match the google images of this cat.

    • just told my daughter about the jaguarundi and described it and she said a friend who lives on the other side of Putah Creek said he had seen at dusk a “small, black mountain lion” about 2 months ago. sounds like the same cat…

      • You wonder how many captive small wild cats there are in California and how many escape and live their lives in the wild. Americans do tend to like keeping ‘exotic pets’. The trade in wild life – dead and alive – is apparently valued at $10 billion annually worldwide.

        The jaguarundi is one of the wild cat species that is the often the subject of ‘unknown sightings’. They are quite a few. It may be that escaped captive jaguarundis have established themselves in the wild in America in certain places. Although it is probably individual cats. It is sad.

        Servals are common ‘pets’. They can be domesticated to a certain extent. They are good at escaping.

        http://pictures-of-cats.org/serval-cat-escapes.html

        Thanks for the information. It is always useful to receive first hand information like this.

        • further info…my daughter talked to her friend today and it winds up he was awake at 3AM, walked out onto the porch and while there heard some light crackling and saw the cat saunter over to a tree, climb up it and then heard some squawkings. the cat descended the tree and padded off. he said the cat was black and had a looong tail. he is also happy to hear an independent conformation of his sighting. this part of Putah Creek has quite a bit of “smaller” wildlife including wild turkeys, coyotes, various rodents, skunks, water fowl, otters, etc.

  2. I was walking the path out at Abbott’s Lagoon on 7/31/12 and was stopped dead in my tracks by what appeared to be a really dark brown, big bobcat on the edge of the trail. It saw me and skeedaddled into the grass. I have grown up on the coast of San Mateo county and have seen bobcats all of my life. This cat was considerably larger than what I am used to seeing. I would describe it as being close to the size of a small labrador. I am pretty confident it was not a mountain lion. Sounds like it might have been a melanistic bobcat. It was an impressive beast and I feel fortunate to have seen it in person. Scared the daylight out of me but it was awesome to see.

    • Fantastic encounter. I’d love to be that near a bobcat and/or puma. I love these animals minding their own business trying to fit into a human world. I am told that ‘both melanistic and albino bobcats have been reported’. The black bobcats were sighted in southern Florida. But the bobcat does have a wide range of coat colors.

  3. I just saw this cat today in the hills of Fairfax. It stood watching me and the dogs and then walked into the bushes where it sat, hidden, for quite a while. A biker then came along and it ran away. I’ve never seen a cat like this one before. About 30-40 lbs, black, long tail (kind of bushy) just a bit smaller than my 62 lb. lab. Needless to say I turned around and walked back down the hill.

  4. I saw the type of cat today 9/19/12 crossing a dirt road that leads to Holcomb valley near big bear Ca. To me the cat looked like a Bob Cat that was very dark in color black and dark brown. The tail was very long like a Mountain lion. The cat was obviously using the tail for balance as it was running. The cat was the size as a bobcat and it looked old and tired so I doubt it was a dark youth mountain lion.
    Could this be a cross bread between a Bob Cat and a domestic black cat? or Cougar cross?

  5. Oct 16 2012, 8:30 P.M. – 9:00 P.M. and Oct 19 2012, 4:50 A.M. SANTA MARIA, CA. residents of my apt. complex and myself spotted a large dark brown almost black colored cat the size of a medium size dog. Estimated it wieghed about 30 to 40 pounds. Very long and almost 2 feet tall at the middle of the back. Notified the Santa Maria police and we are instructed to call the police if it is spotted again so they can send animal control out to get it. It was not afraid of humans and has been seen around the dumpsters. I hope it’s not rabid because it’s one big cat.

  6. Late Oct or early Nov 2012, I spotted a large cat crossing California Hwy 1 just about a half-mile east of the town of Bodega in Northern California. It came from the right and crossed the highway in front of me, reached the other side on my right, walked up on the side of the road toward my now-slowed car for about 10 yards, then disappeared into the bushes. It was about 5:00 p.m. My first impression was that it was a bobcat, but it’s legs weren’t as long and it’s tail wasn’t short. It’s coloring was in the range of dark browns, somewhat on the scruffy side. It looked healthy. Cougar did not enter my mind, perhaps because it wasn’t long enough. Definitely larger than a domestic cat; and as large as, if not larger than, a bobcat. Perhaps less boxy than a bobcat. Didn’t notice the furry peak atop it’s ears either. I’m thinking Jaguar because it didn’t look totally like a bobcat or a cougar, but don’t have enough impression on my memory to say so. Now I’m thinking young cougar. Of course: No photos!

    • Wow, that is a very interesting encounter. The only question in my mind is whether it was a very large domestic cat and not a true wild cat (but I respect your judgement). There are lots of sightings of “wild cats” that turn out to be large domestic cats. It can be hard to judge size at a distance and when seeing a cat fleetingly. If it was at least the size of a bobcat it is much larger than a domestic cat. But “scruffy” does not describe the coat of the jaguar as this cat has a smooth coat and they are large, much larger than a bobcat. They are the third largest wild cat on the planet – a big cat. Also as there are no lynx tips to the ears this rules out the lynx family of cats. The only other medium sized cats are slender and spotted such as the serval. Servals are domesticated and they do escape but they are very recognisable as very long legged and spotted with a small head and large ears. Anyway nice story and thanks for telling us.

  7. This past Thanksgiving, around 10 am, I saw what I can only describe as a black or very dark mountain lion in rural Oroville, CA (20th street). It was probably about 3 times bigger than any domestic cat that I’ve ever seen. It had a long thick tail that it was carrying off the ground and curved up. It’s tail was probably as long as its body. It moved exactly the way I’ve seen mountain lions move on documentaries–it had a litheness and grace that putty tats don’t have–and that tail!

    I was probably 50 yards from it. When he saw me watching him, he hunkered down low into the grass and watched me. The ears seemed to be rounded. It was on fenced property, so I couldn’t move closer to it. When I tried to move round the property to get a different angle on it, it was gone. The property he was on had some chickens, so maybe the cat was looking for breakfast.

    This was the first time I’d ever seen a wild cat…it was pretty exciting. I wish I’d remembered that my phone has a camera.

    • I find your comment interesting. Thanks for commenting. This seems to have been a melanistic mountain lion. The minimum weight of a mountain lion is about 55 pounds. The average domestic cat weighs around 10 pounds so the cat you saw should have been at least 5 times larger than a domestic cat. I am not sure that you saw a mountain lion. However, as you say, the tail of the mountain lion is very distinctive and very different to a domestic cat. Anyway these are just my thoughts. These cats must be rare in CA despite being protected.

      • Hello,
        Since the area where I saw the Black Mountain Lion was along a public road, I was able to pull a satelite map of where I was at in reference to where the lion was. I now see that I was considerably closer to him than I originally thought. He was no farther than 66 feet from me. (calculated using Google Map tools). I didn’t realize how rare an occasion this was, nor how dangerous these critters can be.
        I was really excited to see a mountain lion for the first time–let alone a black one. I wasn’t frightened a bit of him, probably because he seemed to be more frightened of me–and the fact I had a fence between me and him. But I now find out that he could have lept that fence with no trouble at all.

        • Fantastic. I envy you. I don’t think the puma is as dangerous you might think. They are described as shy and will avoid people. They are rare because as far as I am concerned they have been over hunted throughout the USA. Although I know they are protected in California (I’d protect them nationwide). I guess they had to be because they were becoming extinct. They will continue to become more rare as the human population expands.

  8. I was also glad to see your post. Today we were at Dunsmuir House in the Oakland Hills. I was walking and saw something moving on hill. Looked up to see a large, black cat. I pointed it out to the group. No one could determine what type of cat this was. It was large and a distance away, but it was all black. It was at about 1:15 in the afternoon and the sun was out. Definitely some type of large black wild cat.

  9. I was taking out trash When I looked over the fence and saw very large grey stripped cat big as a dog crouching on my neighbers guest house roof which is detatched quite a way from his house. It turned and looked at me , I saw it did not have the the face of a domestic cat. when it saw me it leaped and it jumped or soared over to the roof of his house and dissappeared. they have cut the branches of some of a clump of trees near my home and we have been hearing som rustling in the tall bushes in my drive way and my dogs avoid that spot.and sniff around that area in the day time My gardeners cut the bushes down and I have not seen it any more. I live in Inglewood ,California and have never heard of wild cats in my area before, we see raccoons and possums and rats occasionly but nevernany wild cats.

    • Sounds intriguing. No idea what you saw because you describe the cat as “striped”. As you know cougars are not striped and they are generally bigger than an average sized dog. They are the cat world’s best jumper so your description that it jumped so well would indicate that it might be a cougar. It might be a lynx (bobcat). Lynx are striped and the size of a dog.

  10. Driving to the town of Covelo, Ca on HWY 162 we seen a cat that was very dark in color. (We were about 500 feet away) Short tail, the size was to me like a young black lab, maybe 1.5 years old. There was no mistaking it for a cat when it ran away. Time of day was aprox 1:30 pm out in the open. My question is;
    What was it ? Are there black Bob cats or Mt Lions living in Mendocino county ?
    Thanks….Lee

  11. I am positive I saw a black bobcat (melanistic) crossing a Los Padres forest road miles south of hwy 166 while riding a motorcycle. I have seen hundreds of bobs and this was the same size range..no long tail not a feral cat. Process of elimination…bobcat…black. I was thunderstruck..still am. I am calling forest hdqtrs in morning

    • Thanks for commenting, Jeff. Black (melanistic) bobcats have been reported in the past. I guess they are rare. Even rarer are albino bobcats but they have been reported too. Apparently a zoo in Texas kept an albino bobcat at one time. Southern Florida appears to be were most black bobcats are. Ten have been reported at that location.

  12. My wife and I saw one! It is the Jaguarundi. It was up at my parents place in Anza, CA. Anza is about 1 hour from Palm Springs and is in the mountainous area behind Palm Springs. It is high desert and is near Idylwild.

    This is the 2nd time in 6 years this cat has been seen. It is jet black. No brown at all. Long tail. It looked like it was stalking a yummy cotton tail. It saw our car and ran on down the road.

    Since everyone in the area shoots or runs over the coyotes, this guy gets all the rabbits that have overpopulated the area. His only competition are the owls that have made a home at my parents house. This includes a Great Horned Owl that perches itself on my father’s steel building.

    It is far too small to hunt fauns or small big horned sheep. I will be keeping my chihuahua at home when I go up there.

    Now how did this cat get all the way up here from Mexico?

  13. I have seen what I believe is a similar looking wild cat near my residence in Diamond Springs, CA. In the last month I have seen two different wild looking cats prompting my online research. Tonight, after a short walk at dusk with low light I stopped, looked across the open field I had walked across 15 minutes before and right at the end of the field next to a line of Oaks and other trees and bushes darted/ran what appeared to be a wild cat exactly matching Anna’s description. The cat, which was stretched out running fast, appeared to be about 3 feet long not including an exceptionally long tail about as long as the animal. It was dark browish gray with a roundish head. I do not think it was a bobcat or coyote that I would easily recognize and that do live in my area, at 1780 feet elevation mid way up the 50 to Tahoe. I look out my large picture windows daily and experience routine sightings of huge jack rabbits, geese, turkeys and abundant deer in this rural field. I saw about 3 weeks ago sitting on a pile of large rocks near the ground what appeared to be a black jaguar but knew they are known to be in my area. I emailed a friend who works for CA Fish and Game with a description of the cat but the only thing he thought it might be was a bobcat. I used to live in a different areas with many bobcats and I have seen them in Diamond Springs but this blackish cat was distinctly different. The cat was about 30 feet from me so I had a pretty good view. It appeared to have pointed ears approximately 6 inches apart and a pretty shiny black coat of fur. There are a couple of normal sized domestic black cats that hang out in the same field but the wild looking one was at least twice the size of a domestic cat. I do not scare easily but we stared at each other and I left immediately. I have not seen it again. I think I will start taking along my camera with a telephoto lens on my dusk walks as my iphone would not have been able to capture the big cat I saw tonight at 150-200 feet.

    • Hi Jane, thanks for an interesting comment. You say:

      I saw about 3 weeks ago sitting on a pile of large rocks near the ground what appeared to be a black jaguar but knew they are known to be in my area.

      Could you enlarge on that statement? Are you saying that jaguars are in your area? Officially, the only place in the US where Jaguars may exist are on the border with Mexico. These cats may wander up from Mexico as “vagrants”. They are the third largest cat and a very large animal, considerably larger, in fact, than the cougar in terms of weight and power.

      The most difficult part of wild cat sightings is gauging size even at 30 feet. As you say, get that camera out. I’d love to see a picture, which would probably totally clarify the matter.

  14. From Debbee Gossell:

    Wed. July 10, 2013 Vacaville CA 7:30 PM
    My husband called me frantically tonight to come see something on the hill part of a greenbelt behind our house. He thought that it had gone but it was in the dried grass and was ready to pounce on some prey. We watched as this approx 35 to 50 pound dark Brown almost black animal alinead off out of site. It certainly did not move like a canine bot more like a feline. After researching “Bobcats” And ruling this breed out, I believe what we saw was a young CA mountain lion. We will be warning out neighbors to keep their small pets inside in the early morning and early evening.

  15. My mother and I live near Bidwell Park and twice have seen a larger cat-like animal in the field near our home. It is dark in color, has larger ears and a long body like a fox. Its tail is long and bushy and it moves through the grass like a cat. It is definitely about 30-40 pounds and about the size of my small border collie.

    • Hi Joan, if this cat weighs 30-40 pounds he/she can’t be a domestic cat. However, what you saw is a mystery. What about a melanistic bobcat? Melanism produces black fur where there was once a tabby coat. Melanistic bobcat have been recorded. The weight is more or less correct (but still high) for a bobcat.

  16. I live in Aguanga outside of Anza in a very rural rocky area. Lat year my dogs were going ballistic and I went to see what was wrong. On the rock mountain I have on my proerty, I have 8 acres but where the cat was on a huge boulder I have directly in the back of my house. It was in back of my barn where I have a pt belly pig and a goat and some horses. It was about the length of a pit bull (body) black but glistening circles of grey. The had was small for the body but had a very long tail that dragged while the cat was creeping up the rocks. It had round ears. I got a good look at it and the ears were round. It actually stopped and looked at me. I called the rangers and we have a lot of cougar in this area and of course with my livestock including chickens and a spring filled pond they do come by about once every 2 months. As yet have not bothered any of my stock although I have 5 dogs on the property. I asked the ranger if this could be a black cougar he scoffed that off. I told him it appeared to be a panther of some sort and of course he scoffed that off as well. Living at the base of the Cahuilla mountain many people have seen the same sort of cat. One neighbor of mine who feeds stray ferrel cats in her car port looked out the window and saw one. It is rustrating because you know what you saw but cannot get any answers.

  17. husband and I saw one today – early afternoon. we own acreage which borders on to lots of open space acreage, very peaceful. It watch us and watched our housecat …. very long tail ..San Benito county , California

    beautiful sight : again grassy area with shrubs and trees …. comfortable hideway.

      • we do – one of a kind retreat – we are renting sometimes part of it, but have not found someone who really comes for the wildlife to watch … it is a furnished month to month …and the place will be for sale as we are getting older to enjoy all

        I have a flycatcher – obviously wild and outside – he sits at his same spots by the pool and goes swimming and “eating” since more than 10 years !!! He does not like company !!!

  18. San Benito County : saw one today early afternoon…on acreage backing on to open space…grass lands and shrubs….nice animal…beautiful sight.

  19. I just read the posting from Monterey 2010 and at least feel like I’m not going crazy now. I’m in Carmel Valley and just saw a cat I’ve never seen before. We had a mountain lion run across our driveway a few months ago but this critter was pure black with a shiny coat and uniform in color (no spots), long tail, size of a small labrador, long tail… Our little Maltipoo was in the back yard and I scooped him up and placed him inside so I could run back out and watched as it gently loped up the hillside. Jaguarundi??? Not supposed to be in California but it sure looked like one to me when I googled the photo.

    • Hi Karen. there are quite a lot of possibilities. A sub-adult melanistic puma comes to mind. There have been several sightings in other states of jaguarundis. These cats are not meant to be present in the USA in the wild. However, there are a lot of people who keep captive wild cats and sometimes they interbreed different wild cat species and then they might escape.

      I’m fairly sure that quite a few sightings are of escaped captive wild cat species. However, the black (melanistic) puma is a genuine native wild cat species and as you know there are well known to live in California. My gut feeling is that when people see cats in the wild which are larger than domestic cats and they are certain that there are seeing a cat that is larger than a domestic cat then it is most likely to be an escaped captive wild cat of some sort and the two species that keep on coming up as possibilities are the ones mentioned. Any future comments you make will be published immediately.

      • Thanks Michael. My neighbor used to be with the Forestry Service and he is pretty well versed on wild cats and he came up and saw it (it seems to hang out by our tree up the hill every day around 330). He thinks it’s a black cougar. The face, ears, tail, size all match per his account. Striking!

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