Picture of black domestic cat versus genuine black panther in profile debunks the mystery big cat sightings

Several times each year the news media jump all over a mysterious black panther prowling around the British countryside tearing livestock to pieces. A lot of the time it is news media fiction – clickbait as it is a slow news day – but sometimes amateur observers genuinely believe that they’ve seen a black big cat or a large wild cat ‘the size of a Labrador’. A wild cat the size of a Labrador would not be big enough to be a genuine black panther by the way as the phrase ‘black panther’ applies to melanistic (black) leopards and jaguars and sometimes pumas. All are bigger than a Labrador, particularly the jaguar.

Showing the distinct difference between the profile of a black domestic cat in the countryside and a genuine black panther
Showing the distinct difference between the profile of a black domestic cat in the countryside and a genuine black panther. One of the obvious differences is the size of the head relative to the body. And the depth of the flank is very noticeable. Image: MikeB
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The pictures are invariably of poor quality. In this instance there were more than 1,300 sightings. The remains of the prey animals had deep puncture wounds to the bone. They say wildlife experts are taking the sightings seriously.

The recent example is a black leopard roaming around Dumfriesshire in Scotland. Even the Scottish Big Cat Research Team think this might be a big cat.

I think it is sad that people can actually believe all this guff. They take is seriously but it is simply isn’t true.

The latest sighting was captured on video or a still image (see above). I have used it to compare it to an image of a black panther (black jaguar). The jaguar is the biggest black panther and little stockier than the leopard but I am sure that you can see the distinct difference in profile of the two cat species while walking.

One giveaway is that the domestic cat’s gait is always far more delicate than that of the big cats. I have a page on this aspect of the difference – click here.

In the picture on this page, we see the forepaw of the black domestic cat being delicately and perhaps gingerly placed on the ground as they slowly stalk. You can see that this cat is hunting and has perhaps spotted a mouse in the grass.

But overall, it is undeniable that the domestic cat has a much slighter frame or body conformation. It is very clear. The jaguar has a heavier appearance and they don’t walk delicately and pause when stalking with their forepaw held as we see in the upper picture in the montage.

Over decades no one has ever produced a sharp image of one of these mysterious big cats. Never. They are always conveniently fuzzy. And no one has captured one of these mystery cats. It is because they don’t exist.

Supporters say that as there are 20 wild cats including 11 lions, eight tigers, 11 leopards, 18 pumas, ten cheetahs, two ligers (lion and tiger hybrid offspring) and one jaguar currently being kept privately in the UK some may have escaped and settled down to a life in the wild in the UK’s countryside. Sorry, it is inconceivable as we’d know about it in a much more certain way than a fuzzy picture and witness reports from imaginative residents.

Today, the Daily Mail has a long article with reports of many sightings with some supporting photos and the photos are always the same: crappy. Surely after decades of big cat spotting in the UK we’d have just one decent image! But no. That’s because we have to perpetuate the mystery cat story. A lot of it is news media hype and pap. Any decent quality image would prove beyond doubt that the cat was domestic.

We know that dogs often attack livestock. The National Sheep Association said (March 2023):

In the survey of more than 300 sheep farmers, 70% had experienced a sheep worrying attack in the past 12 months, with 95% of respondents experiencing up to 10 cases per year. On average three sheep deaths were reported each year due to a dog attack.

National Sheep Association

Common sense dictates that it is dogs worrying and attacking sheep that accounts for the sheep carcasses with deep puncture wounds. It happens all the time as reported and it is very concerning for sheep farmers.

Perhaps I am being too serious in this article. We all know that it is the news media having a bit of fun in providing light entertainment for their readers.

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