Black Cats in Kentucky.

by Nancy Thompson
(Paintsville,Ky. U.S.A.)

I live in Eastern Kentucky (Lawrence County) and all my life I have heard members of my family talk about sightings of the Black Panther.

My grandmother talked of seeing them while walking home after dark. My grandfather has seen them while out working the farm or while in the woods hunting. My father spoke often of seeing them in the woods after dark when he went fox or coon hunting.

About 10 years ago a neighbor and his wife stopped by my home, asking to see my daughter’s black house cat. After seeing him they promptly told me what they saw the night before in the road above my house was much larger than him.

About the same time, both of my children (ages 10 and 15 yrs. old) heard our dog barking outside in the yard. After seeing the dog still tied they both told me they saw a huge black cat sitting near the creek in front of the house.

My mother had repeatedly seen them while driving home from church. I have never heard of anyone seeing a Puma, Mt. Lion etc. We do have Bobcats, but there is no way to mistake a Black Panther for a Bobcat. Wrong color scheme there.

I actually saw a Bobcat early this spring in broad daylight walking the fence line, across the creek. My mother called the local game warden at that time and told him about all the new sightings and he quickly brushed it all aside. He told her there are no “Black Cats” in Kentucky….haven’t been any since Daniel Boone.

She was irritated that he didn’t take her seriously and quickly informed him that her name was now “Daniel Boone” and he needs to get out of the office and into the woods a little more often. We had the same problem when people first started seeing Black Bear and Coyotes in the area, but those were quickly accepted are being here.


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Black Cats in Kentucky.

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Aug 07, 2011 black cats in kentucky
by: Nancy

I don’t know the official name of the black cats here,but I do know they are big and black. We have bears here too and as far as I know there quite a few. I have seen the tracks myself and was quite happy I was with my brother when we saw them.It had stepped in some sand at the edge of the creek bank. Every hair on my neck stood up and I thought my brother was going to bolt and leave me standing in my tracks. We also have coyotes (unfortunately),following the deer and elk I presume. They don’t make themselves as scarce as the cats or bear,they actually seem a little too bold if you ask me.It scares me to think my grandchildren may be in danger in their own yards. I seriously doubt the cats will attack one at least I hope not.However,since they came into my yard years ago and the dog less than 20 feet from it I’m not so sure. I had horses then and the mare had just given birth to a foal so I am assuming that was what attracted it then. My daughter has two dogs outside so hopefully they will deter any wildlife,be it cat,bear or coyote. Obviously,the deer aren’t deterred since they are in the yard every day. Maybe she needs better dogs.

Jul 19, 2011 Black Panther
by: Elisa

I visited a distant relative in Oconee County, SC. He had build an entire western town that was even featured in a few movies. In one room he had a stuffed black panther he had killed in the mountains of upstate sc/lower nc.

Jul 18, 2011 I believe you
by: Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

Nancy, I believe you. We had a bear in Milwaukee about 15 years ago, I think. It was a little black bear and he climbed up a tree. They used a tranquilizer gun to get him down and then he was relocated back up north. If you told someone a bear could come and climb up a tree near a fairly busy street on the north side of Milwaukee, they would say you were nuts– but it happened. It was on the news, so everyone saw it.

Just because you are one of the few to see these large black cats does not mean they aren’t there. It is foolish for animal control officers to dismiss your testimony. What if the police in Milwaukee had decided not to believe the person calling to report a bear? At least they did the right thing with the bear and didn’t hurt him. I worry sometimes that with a big cat they might think the only solution is to shoot it. Some places allow shooting of small feral cats. I don’t know what it is about cats that causes so many people to think the best solution is to shoot or kill them. Fear, I suppose. In truth I’d be more afraid of the bear.

Jul 16, 2011 Hi Nancy
by: Michael

Hi Nancy. Thanks for your interesting post. What you are saying is that there are black (melanistic) cougars in Kentucky.

You are not the only American who has seen large black cats. You may have seen some other posts and here.

Officially the cougar range no longer extends to Kentucky. The range has gradually been eroded further and further west.

But if there are cougars in Kentucky it is possible that there could be black ones as cougars can be melanistic. They are called black panthers as are black jaguars and black leopards.



Black Cats in Kentucky. — 36 Comments

  1. We are just outside Jamestown ky on Hwy 80 and just saw one! It was on the side of the road and could clearly be seen and identified…it appeared to be around 140 pounds. It’s coat was gloss black and it’s eyes shone at us and appeared to be green.

    We are so excited to have seen something so rare and elusive !

  2. I live in Greenup County, Ky and we have had reports of black panther sightings for over one hundred years in the western part of the county where I live. In the last 15 months we have had 4 sightings within a half mile of each other on or near a portion of our farm. I know the individuals who reported the recent sightings and i certainly believe them Over the years hunters have reported sightings many times. So listen up DNR we do have black panthers living in Kentucky.

    • Great post. Thanks Mike. I love first hand knowledge and experiences. I have a feeling the melanistic mountain lion is more common than people think. We have to keep things in check though because people do have a habit of seeing large black cats when they are mistaken as to the size.

      • We are driving north on I-75 approx 9pm, just saw a large black cat as you are describing at approx mile marker 61. He was just inside the guard rail. Couldn’t see his entire body, but sure could see those huge black paws! And the head over top of guard rail. Hope he doesn’t get hit. He’s huge!! We were curious what it was, and started Googling.

        • If your sighting is accurate and this cat is not a large domestic/stray cat then it has to be a black cougar (melanistic cougar). Cougars (pumas, mountain lions) can be black although it is relatively rare.

          It is easy to get a sighting wrong, though. It is difficult to evaluate size at a distance and when glancing at an animal. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  3. I live in western ky up by the ohio, surrounded by the Cumberland and Tennessee river. In the middle of the day I have seen black bear, and black cats. If you’re familiar with ky fields, there’s always tufts of weed that stand two to three feet hight in the middle of them.

    I was sitting on my front porch one day and in the field in front of my house a black cat came out of the tree line. Walking across the field I seen it’s head was really square and a long tail that curls up at the end.

    While walking in front of one of those tufts of weeds, it blocked it out from my view. So I know it’s back was around 2 – 3 feet off the ground. I called to it “kitty kitty kitty”. It froze long enough for me to look at it through a scope, and then casually walked to the next tree line.

    No fear humans at all. Second sighting was at night, pulling up in my driveway in a Toyota camry. There across from my front door (ABOUT 12 feet away) a black cat comes runnin across the driveway in front of the car being brightlighted by my headlights.

    Panting, i could see its teeth, and in the light you could see a pattern of stripes in the black coat. Way bigger than a bobcat though, i seen those a lot, this one was tall enough to see over the hood of the car, when it ran in front it was only about six feet away. I had a hard time getting out and walk in (running) in the front door.

    • Thank you Melissa for your fascinating couple of sightings. The more comments and articles I have read about these sorts of sightings the more I am beginning to think that there are more wild cat hybrids, which were once captive perhaps, roaming around parts of America than we think. I am not sure about that thought but that’s what it looks like to me. Other than that it has to be a cougar or a Bobcat and your descriptions do not fit those cats except that there is the possibility that you saw melanistic cougars. These are black cougars with a faint pattern. The curled up tail indicated cougar.

  4. Nancy, My hubby was going to work one morning, 5am, when he came up on a black panther sitting in the middle of the road. Our road is very small and lightly travelled. It had been down to the creek to drink. We have had 6 dogs in the neighborhood disappear or come back home all scratched up. Many more dogs are coming up missing. We used to have coyotes here and could hear them at night. No more coyotes. My pyrenese has been chasing something off at night. I heard a loud hiss/growl last night at 3am while checking on the livestock. My dog was going crazy. We called the game warden and he laughed it off. Said when we get a picture or dead animal, let him know. They are here. I am in N. KY. Campbell Cnty.

    • I have heard jaguar sounds in the morning & evening in Harrison county. They sound like an upset mother cow. Once we heard an awful low growl. Too close for comfort! They have been pooping around my farm too. My neighbor saw a big black cat a couple of years ago. I wonder if these were once pets, since exotic pets are now illegal?

      • Thanks for reporting your ‘sighting’ or ‘sounding!’ – I’d love to see a black panther in the US (melanistic mountain lion). Pumas are not as dangerous as some people make out. They are quite shy and retiring. They have some domestic cat qualities and some people have pet mountain lions!

        • I didn’t say mountain lion, puma, black panther, or cougar. I said Black Jaguar. Jaguar and mountain lions do NOT SOUND THE SAME. Although they shot a mountain lion in the next county, what we have seen and heard is a Black Jaguar.

          • Thanks yes, I didn’t read your comment thoroughly enough. Of course jaguars sound different to pumas. It is amazing that you heard a jaguar. They are not meant to be in Kentucky. May be an escaped captive animal?

  5. Wow! This is SO weird! I’m from England and last year came over to east ky to see my fiance (she was living in Manchester)
    About a year back I was being driven from London to Manchester by taxi.
    It was raining, but just eased off as we came about a half mile from Best Western on the parkway.
    Something ran across the parkway about 50 yards in front of us. This thing was HUGE! The taxi driver nearly lost control. It was a jet black cat… I would have said it was a panther it was that big!
    It definitely wasn’t a bear, coyote, mountain lion, or anything like. Just a massive black catlike creature!
    So…..yeah, definitely, there are some weird things out there!
    Thought I was seeing things….glad I found this site!

    • Hi Paul. You seem to have made one of the famous mysterious black cat sightings in the UK. Are you sure that the cat was that big because the chances of it being a genuine big cat are remote. More likely to be a large black domestic or feral cat. They can reach 20 pounds. It may have been a dog.

      Thanks for sharing Paul. My best for the New Year.

      • HI! NO!I saw it coming into Manchester Eastern Kentucky… Not in the U.K!
        I’m English but Kentucky’s where my fiance lives.

          • Yes…it’s confusing lol! There’s loads of English place names round that way! Manchester, London, Richmond, Glasgow, Middlesboro …just to name a few!Guess it must have been the early settlers there?
            Mostly English, Scots an Northern Irish I believe. Thanks for the info! I know people have seen “Big Cats” over here in England …mostly down in the west (Cornwall, Devon) where the habitat would be much more suited.

            • I looked up some pictures and I’m convinced it was a melenistic puma That I saw! Apparently quite a few folk around there have seen it too!

  6. I live in perry county about 4 miles from hazard. I saw a very large black cat on a strip mine. I am a true hillbilly and have spent most of my life actually out in the woods. When I was younger there were no animals in these hills. Due to mining pollution. But now they are full. I got a good look at the cat. It was about two and a half ft tall about four feet long the tail was twice the length of its body. It was solid black.

    • Hi Wade. Thanks for commenting. The big question is how far away was the cat and how good was the sighting? I ask because a lot of the time people genuinely mistake a large domestic ca for a wild cat. If the cat was a wild cat it can only be a melanistic bobcat or a young, melanistic puma.

  7. Was on the Natcher Parkway this morning -Feb.11 – in Ohio County between mile markers 57 and 58. It was early morning and really overcast. I looked up on the hill and standing on top was a large black cat, call it what you will. I said to husband how rare it was to see one and he replied ‘wherever there is food’. He was not surprised as he had seen a black panther in the late ’60’s while hunting in neighboring Daviess County.Where there is still area known as Panther Creek.The vehicle was going normal speed and I did not have camera ready but I do know what I saw on that hilltop looking around. It was pretty awesome.

    • Thank you, Jan, for sharing your experiences. This sounds very interesting. And it certainly adds to the body of knowledge about “black cat in Kentucky”.

  8. Before about a yr and a half ago I would not have believed you but seeing what I saw with my own eyes up and close in broad daylight I am now a believer myself I hunt deer,coon turkey well what ever is in season lol I love the woods and hills,I live on a stripjob in eastern ky and around 1:00 in the day me my mother and 8 yr old son was out trying to find her horse she always stayed close to the barn.they went right and I went left from the barn and when i got out on the top ridge I was turning to look around for the horse and saw something black out the corner of my eyes I just kept turning around to look cause I assumed it was my dog but as I turned back around I saw a huge black cat with a very long hooked tail and it had tits hanging way down and was very Bonny as if it had been almost nursed to death and it walked very slowly and didn’t seem to care I was even there and it was only about 40 some yards from me I couldn’t believe what I was seeing!!!!

    • Hi Poodle. The only cat with your description in the USA would be a female, melanistic mountain lion (puma). I wonder is she was a breeder who escaped (or was released) from a private zoo. Thanks for sharing. Excellent.

  9. There are no black panthers in ky people! Thousands and thousands of hunters and np BP bodies! We can put ships in space but no one can come up with a body!! Please!

  10. People claim there are no “standard” color cougars in Kentucky, too, but they’re wrong. I’ve seen two over the years, one in Knott County and one in Johnson County. They’re scarce, but they’re here, and they’ve ALWAYS been here. People in Eastern Kentucky have seen them all of my life, at least. Dogs don’t move like cats, and anybody that can mistake one for the other needs to have their eyes checked.

  11. I live in western ky. Hrnderson Co. I have seen a cougar 2 separate times. Hwy 1299 both times. The first one was full grown standard color. The second time it was a smaller one, not a new born cub but a smaller one. 100% what it was.

  12. It is poss for an occasional lion to make its way thru,that is,in the normal color phase,not melanistic,which by the way has never been proven. All I’m saying is as far as BP’s,people jump to a conclusion on what they think they see and say” I saw a BP”. By now, there would be prints,scat,young,buried deer carcasses,strong photo evidence or bodies,not to mention livestock predation.

  13. We saw a black jaguar, Hardin County, Ky. End of Summer 2017. Two days in a row. First day the adult was close enough that you could see her spots. She was jetblack, but had a darker shade of black spots that was visible, but still black. You could see the spots in the jetblack fur. It has to be a jaguar. Second day she had an older kitten with her. It was definitely a kitten in size comparison with the momma, but it wasn’t a young kitten. It looked strong. She made a funky short meow/growly noise, and the kitten ran to her and they disappeared again. People have been seeing them here as far back as the early 1900’s that I know of for sure. I’ve heard multiple hunter tales over the years.

    • Jeremy, thanks for commenting. The only place where there might be some genuine jaguars in the USA is in the states of New Mexico and Arizona on the border of Mexico. Officially that is the only place. Melanistic pumas are more common than jaguars in the USA. These are black mountain lions.

      For many years and even today many people believe there are no jaguars in the US. Black jaguars are called black panthers sometimes. Thanks again.

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