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?
Black California Wildcat? to Wild Cat Species
Farmer friend’s wife witnessed a waist-high black cat with a long tail while washing dinner plates at dusk, in North Fallbrook, CA in September 2016 (just north of Rock Mountain). Neighbors have reported sightings since, but she was the first. They had a mid-sized terrier dog which had just come indoors. She guessed the dog interrupted the cat hunt by going indoors. Not seen it myself, but I have photographed many large soil panther prints on this property, South of that location by 3-4 miles. I’ve even heard a large something walk on the roof of this single story house before dawn and heard the grounding of the 4 paws when it leapt off. Looking out the window, I saw nothing.
Anna, i just saw a large black feline matching your description, walking on too of a farmhouse roof, while driving along the S. Valley Freeway, near Coyote/Coyote Creek area. I was just googling what the heck it might be, when I came across your post. My thoughts were initially jagaurundi? Weird!
Today is July 10, 2020 I am almost 100% sure over the last month one of these cats has been coming to our property and eating our ducks and chickens. I’ve seen it 3 times already it is much bigger then a domestic feral house cat, super long tail, looks completely black. I’ve seen it crossing the road in front of me at 4 in the morning and it had an adult jack rabbit in its mouth. I’ve asked the neighbors if they’ve seen and they haven’t. It comes over our fence the same direction so it uses the same trail the birds it Has taken are ones either were sitting on eggs or ones that didn’t roost. I live in the Mojave desert in the town of Oro grande / Bryman off Route 66 straight across from the Mojave river. I know it’s not a Bobcat or a domestic cat! It’s diffrent. I’m going to try and get a pic of it. I will post the pic when and if I get it
I saw this black cat and its tail is longer then its own body it was in my back yard it was about forty pounds the dogs in the hood were going of I saw some very large tracks the morning before so I brushed the dirt so to mess the tracks up to see if it is a one time thing no it came back the next night same thing the dogs were barking I walked out side and then I saw it I had my light on it and I looked and stared and it at me I reached for my phone and it was not in my pocket because I knew no one would believe me then one of my neighbors Eric said he saw it too
Two possibilities; black panther i.e. young black cougar (melanistic) or black bobcat (melanistic too). There is a 3rd possibility: a large black domestic and you misjudged the cat’s size and weight. This is common I have to say. Thanks a lot for commenting CAL.
I live in central California I used to keep my horse at a near by ranch that runs along a canal that during the summer months is filled with water for farming / Agricultural reasons on the ranch behind the horse corrals is an area i used by people of about 100 trees with several huge areas with open areas for animals to lie or rest in but from time to time I will cut branch and remove excess debris from this area .on one evening I was working until it was too dark to see then I would stop .I was cutting a big limb and when I started to pull it out I noticed an outline of something
big and I screamed and I screamed it jumped up and turned around and fled it was black a rather large head a tail long with a slightly busher on the end tail. Sleek hair about 2-3 feet in length 2 1/2 feet tall I went home and when I returned in the morning there was eight chicken missing and fearhers everywhere I never saw it again and I don’t know anyone that has saw it but me
It sounds as if you saw a young cougar perhaps a melanistic (black) cougar. The darkness may have made the cat look darker than it really was so it was probably it’s usual colour (light brown). But at 2.5 feet in length, that is quite small, too small for a cougar so it might have been a bobcat or even a domestic cat. Anyway many thanks Christine for sharing your experience on this website.
One year ago I was walking up a hill to my friends house and saw what looked like a bear cub come running out from under the house accept it was fast and slinked real low to the ground. It jetted past an out building and mad a racquet when it hit the fence and was gone.it was nearing dark so I only cought a glimpse of what after a second of confusion I determined was a large black cat. My friend had an old black cat named mow who had been killed by a mountain lion some years in the past. When I saw him I said “I’ll be darned if I didn’t just see mow’s ghost run out from under the house”. His response? “I’ve seen it too”. Really? He said he’d seen it a couple of times under the same circumstances. Right at dark a black blur dart out from under the house and disappear. This was in mid may of 2013 on Sherwood Ranch on the headwaters of the Ten Mile River 45 minutes north west of Willits california. Fast forward to mid july. I was riding my dirt bike on the upper ranch road about an hour before sunset and I was not going slow. I rounded a corner and not fifty feet in front of me I saw two jet black bob cats which I caught up to within a second. I slowed not to get so close as that I might hit one but maintained about twenty feet behind them for at least 500 yards. I got a very good look at them. They were black as black shiny and big for bobcats. Both about the same size.both formidable looking around 50 lbs. Small tufts pointing up off the ears.what I noticed most was they’re eyes weren’t yellowish like most black cats. They were light brown with a starthisle like pattern. About a month later and I saw another one run across hwy 20 due south of the position I last saw them about ten miles respectively. They will forever be burned in my memory and I hope I see them again someday. Thanks.
Wow, great comment and sighting. I might turn it into an article. Thanks Sundance.
Well, Anna, you are not the only one. I was in Franklin Canyon Golf Course in Hercules and my friends and I saw the cat that you described. And I have done my research trying to find what I saw, but no luck 🙁
Thanks Alvaro for sharing your experience.
I saw one early this morning. It was a large as a small – medium size dog; much larger than a house cat and longer and darker than a bobcat, but not as big as a puma. I live in Butte Meadows, Butte County at 4500 feet.
Thanks for sharing your sighting Tom. Appreciated.
Tonight, I saw what had to be a Jargurundi. I live in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and hike daily because I live in the forest.
At 5:45 pm, August 11 2016 – I was on my favorite trail when I walked upon a dead mouse, laying in the middle of a well manicured and 7 ft wide trail in the forest. Behind the mouse’s body, were paw prints along with kicked up dirt. There was a trail of dirt actually, with paw prints going in a zig zag style… like a cat was chasing a mouse.. . Literally.
I studied the prints, and damage to the mouse’s body. I noticed that the paw prints looked smaller than a dogs paw.. smaller than my 55 pound dogs paw who wasnt with me on this hike, and also closer together – like my cats… but bigger than hers.
But too small to worry about.
I saw saliva on the mouses neck, which let me know it was fresh. I kept walking when I realized a squirrel was making a crazy loud noise.. they do that all the time at me, though, but I wanted to see who it was this time…
I walked toward this redwood tree, where I heard him yelling from… and climbing down from the other side – comes a big black cat.
I wasn’t sure what I was seeing…
It was 10-15 times bigger than a big cat, athletic and slender, probably 35 pounds but not nearly big enough for me to be scared…. I think? It had a long tail and was all black – which was what confused me (both) and its face was round and small and the ears were more rounded than I’ve seen in any bobcat.
It wasn’t a bobcat, mountain lion or a cat.. I see these often.
The cat jumped down from the tree, 10 feet from me and slightly jogged away, looking back often because he wanted the mouse and I think he had the squirrel cornered. I was mezmerized by it so like a dummy, I walked towards it… he kept his distance though, then went running, quietly, up a set of rocks up the side of the mountain.
I wanted to watch him athletically climbed, but when I glanced up his black color blended in with the shadows and after 15 minutes of starring I could not find him.
I came home and started googling big black cats in california to see my options. I know from nature shows Jagurundi’s aren’t in California.
Bit I’m quite certain I saw one, at 1876 ft in the coastal forest and it looked amazing..
Hi Joshua. Wow, what a sighting and I think you are right in your assessment. The Jaguarundi has a weasel-like appearance. At one time the experts thought that this species was not a cat at all. If the cat you saw had a weasel-like quality then you are certainly correct. They come in different colors. Here is a page on that weasel appearance of this unusual cat.
I am convinced that there are quite a lot of jaguarundi in parts of America where they are not meant to be. Florida is also a place where there are sightings. Many thanks for your comment.
I may turn it into a full article as it is both good enough and long enough.
Tonight, about 5 PM, I was walking my German Shepherd on my 80 acre property bordering the Las Padres National forest near Lake Santa Margarita in SLO county, when I spotted a large black cat, about 40-50 pounds across the field. It had the body shape of a mountain lion, including a long tail, curled at the end. My dog, who alerts and barks at everything, stood close to me and just watched. The cat eventually slowly began to lope, like a mountain lion, towards my neighbor’s property eventually disappearing into 4 ft. brush. I’ve lived here for 33 years and have seen boar, bear, mountain lion, bobcat, etc. but never a black cat. I have seen black squirrel, but this cat puzzles me. The fact that my dog watched intently but did not bark (I’ve only seen him do this with rattlesnakes – show such caution) makes me think that this animal was a potential threat. I hope no one shoots this beautiful animal. I’m almost afraid to alert neighbors since this would be such a trophy.
Must have been sub-adult black panther – a melanistic young mountain lion. Thanks for sharing Marilyn. Very interesting.
I saw a black bobcat in the los Padres National forest off highway 166 near Cayucas. I have been observing wild life for 60 years and it was a bobcat. Dogs have tails..this was not a dog. I am a believer now.
Fantastic. Thanks for reporting your sighting. Black bobcats are pretty rare aren’t they?
About a month ago, I found a dead buck that had been eviscerated by some animal floating in the small lake behind my house in Cool, California. Unlike other deer killed by Mountain Lions on my property, the neck had not been broken on the deer.
The next day I received a call from a neighbor that a Mountain Lion was walking up towards my house. My wife spotted a large black cat the size of our Labrador Retriever (65 lbs.) The cat had large feet and a long tail that was bushy at the end and the tail was nearly the size of the cat and curved up at the end. It was far larger than any domesticated cat and bigger than the Bobcats that I have seen on the property.
When we first saw the cat, it was about 50 yards away. Later my wife saw the cat again and I was able to take a picture of the cat using my pocket camera at a distance of 349 feet. Unfortunately, it looks small at that distance.
I called the California Fish and Game and asked them if anyone has reported a missing exotic pet like a Jaguar but none were reported. The person at Fish and Game said there have been numerous reports of black Mountain Lions but no one has every taken a picture of one.
I asked if they would like a copy of my picture and I sent them a copy via email. So far I have not heard from Fish and Game.
I have set up two trail cameras and hope to get better pictures of the cat and possibly scat and hair samples to establish what this cat is.
This cat has been seen by others in the area and has been seen in Oak trees behind my neighbor’s house. It has been seen 10 miles away from here.
I am glad to see that others have seen similar cats and I hope that someday someone will be able to establish that the big black cats do exist.
Hi Stephen. Thanks for sharing this. Your account is very convincing. The most convincing I have read. It really does seem like you have a black mountain lion where you are.
If you can get a good photo I think it will be commercially valuable because I don’t think there is a good photo of a black mountain lion on the planet, or any photo! However, I insist you let me publish it on this website 😉
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!
If you can get a photo, I’d love to have a look!
San Benito County : saw one today early afternoon…on acreage backing on to open space…grass lands and shrubs….nice animal…beautiful sight.
Thanks Tilly for the sighting.
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.
Fantastic. It sounds as if you have a really nice place. The sort of place where you might be lucky to get a sighting.
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 !!!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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?
Now how did this cat get all the way up here from Mexico?
That is the big $64,000 question. They call them “vagrants”.
Not the only sighting. Another well known Anza local that raises championship rabbits sighted one as well off of Mitchell. Swears it was a Jaguarundi.
Thank you Mark for passing on your information.
“Since everyone in the area shoots or runs over the coyotes, this guy gets all the rabbits that have overpopulated the area.”
Such a sweet, animal loving place!!!
Yes, my thoughts too. How anyone can deliberately run over any animal is completely beyond me.
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.
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 ?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
This is an interesting sighting. How close where you? You sound confident. It is easy to make a mistake on size, though.
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.
The jaguarundi seems to be seen not that infrequently in America. Florida is another location. Yet this small wild cat’s range (distribution) does not extend into North America. In fact the range stops well short of the Mexican/USA border. Are these escaped captive jaguarundi?
Map of distribution:
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.
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.
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 !!!!