NBC Washington have questioned whether the cat videoed by a Ring door bell security camera is a mountain lion or a domestic cat. There is the usual hype. The lady who checked her Ring security camera said that the cat was huge and not like any domestic cat she has seen:
“This thing is huge and it has short hair. It is not any kind of domestic cat that I’ve ever seen before…”
The reason why this domestic cat looks huge is because the camera has an extreme wide angle lens and the cat is very close to the camera. This distorts the cat making him look larger.
But if you compare the anatomy of the toes and foot of the mountain lion to this cat you see a stark difference in scale. The mountain lion paw is much larger, more robust and less delicate as is the antomy to which it is attached.
The domestic cat’s toes (paw) are quite delicate and small compared to the paws of large wild cat species, even compared to medium sized wild cats like the caracal or serval. And the foot is much narrower in the domestic cat compared to the same anatomy of the puma.
There is another point to make. The cat in the picture is a tabby cat. You can see the stripes on the legs. Mountain lions are not tabby cats! They don’t have these markings.
That is the conclusion: this is clearly a domestic cat enjoying a bit of nighttime roaming and the lady, Giulia di Marzo, who saw it on her Ring video camera has assessed this completely incorrectly. Perhaps her thoughts are coloured by that ever present emotion: fear.
The press have shamelessly latched onto the story on a quiet news day. Don’t bother calling wildlife services or DC Animal Care and Control. You’d be wasting their time. Apparently the Smithsonian National Zoo has been called to advise. I apologise on behalf of this woman.
Mountain lions have been extinct in the east of the USA for donkeys years although there are sightings in the south e.g. North Carolina. These might be escaped pet pumas if they are genuine sightings.