Western New York Sighting of Unidentified Feline Animal

by Jennifer
(Amherst, Ny)

While hiking in a swampland nature preserve 2 years ago with a friend, we happened upon a cat-like animal (appearing approx. 45lbs.) that was slowly moving through some tall grass.

We were approximately 30 ft. away, and could only see the body, shoulders, and tail, as it moved through the grass.

It’s head/face was hidden (to the ground) as it moved. I started to move closer out of curiosity, while my friend yelled for me to move back. Curiously enough, it was a solid dark brown color, not variegated as one might expect of the rare, wild felines occasionally spotted in this area.

The tail was long, thin and short-haired. It hung straight down. I could tell by the movement of the shoulders and by the tail that it was definitely feline in nature. Although unsure of it’s identity, I am certain that it was not a coyote, which is common in this area.

I have talked to numerous individuals familiar with wildlife in Amherst NY (Erie Co.), but have not to find someone who could give any info. that would appear to fit the description of this particular animal. Any thoughts or info. would be appreciated! Thanks.


Western New York Sighting of Unidentified Feline Animal to Wild Cat Species

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Western New York Sighting of Unidentified Feline Animal

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I let my yellow lab out at 7:30 am Sunday . We own a few acres of land and my dog is restrained only by an invisable fence around the perimeter of our partially wooded property. She has never caught or attacked any animal, but she loves to bark and chase the rabbits,deer, wild turkeys etc…off our property. She was out less than 10 minutes and came back barking desperately to let her in. I let her in and the poor dog was so scared she was shaking.For the rest of the day she would not go outside unless I went with her.
About 10:00 am I saw this strange animal standing on the cement around our pool. It had pointed ears like a cat,only bigger. It was about the same height as my dog,but was very skinny.I opened the window and yelled “gay avec” ,which means go away.It turned around and ran into the woods.It had a long skinny tail that stuck straight out when it ran.It was grayish brown and mangy looking. Apparently it understands Yiddish (lol),and scared my sweet doggie. BTW I live in a suburb just east of Syracuse, NY. I have lived here 25 years and have never before seen this type of animal. Does anyone know what kind of animal this is? Should I worry it will come back? Do you think it would hurt my dog or a person?

May 05, 2012 wappingers falls ny… cougar??
by: Anonymous

tan, short hair, 2ft long tail, 2ft high from ground…thick short hair like a cat except it wasn’t a house cat…ran across the road in seconds..didnt see face.

Oct 10, 2011 Lynx
by: Anonymous

Riding my bike up River Rd. north of Riverside – towards Tonawandas, there was a dead cat on the side of the road. It was large, about the size of a hound, spotted (uniformly so, even along its underside), and had very rich, dark eye markings. It was too large to be domestic, but did not have Lynx facial tuft, or bobcat tail. Escaped exotic maybe? Or do Lynx’s have tuft variety given the season?

Aug 31, 2011 cat like animal with really long legs in Angola NY
by: Tarrylou

My friend and I were driving down Old Lake Shore rd. on Aug.29th at about 5 PM when this very tall cat-like animal loped across the street in front of our car. It was light brown in color with pointed ears and a long tail.The thing that stood out the most was that the legs were really long and the animal`s body was pretty short but very sleek. I am familiar with fox and coyotes. It was neither. Has anyone else seen this animal?

Aug 08, 2011 saw the same creature
by: Mary O.

I just today saw the same animal…..it looks like a tall skinny shorthaired fox! Very adjile and quick. It was getting ready to scope out the underside of my deck but I chased it….it was 3:00 in the afternoon. I live in the Southern Tier of New York next to a wooded area.My husband said it was a coyote…..but what about the short haired long tail?

Jul 11, 2011 Cat Sighting
by: Richard

My son and I saw a cat on July 5, 2011 on route 22 about 100 yards shy of the turnoff for Ticonderoga. Around 3:30 pm. About 3 feet with a short stubby tail. It all happened so fast but it was definitely a large cat and there were two of us to see it. I would have said cougar missing it’s tail but I’m told that’s impossible. Sandy brown body with stumpy tail. Very sleek and FAST.

Mar 18, 2011 Not sure what I saw
by: TBarr

I live in a very rural area of Western NY, around a lot of apple orchards and farm land. We have Lake Ontario in our back yard and of course all of the bays that go along with it. While driving to work at 6:15a an animal ran across the road in front of me. It was definitely feline, yet much bigger than any domestic or feral cat. It was tan, muscular and had a very thin tail with a bit of a tuft at the end. This is my second sighting of such a creature, but while sitting in the summer around a fire in the back yard, we hear this sort of crying/scream sound, its short and will repeat about 3 times before moving to another area and making the sound again. I do believe we have wild cats in New York State where we have not seen them before.

Feb 27, 2011 I just saw a Cougar
by: Lisa

I live on Lake Erie, and have a second story home office with a computer facing the lake. I looked up from my work and watched (in amazement) as a huge feline walked across my seawall from west to east. I have 3 domestic cats, and have had a huge domestic cat. No one can tell me that this was in any way a domestic cat. I see eagles and coyotes and all manor of creatures from my window especially in the winter with no cover for the creatures. I first thought it was a coyote or dog from its size. It was not. It was a cat, buff in color with a lighter face. I saw it from many angles as it would turn it’s face right at me. I’m not sure what kind of cat I saw for sure. It was NOT a domestic cat.

Aug 24, 2010 Just saw your comment
by: Michael

I have just seen your comment – too busy. The fisher cat makes a screaming sound. It is not a cat by the way.

Jul 08, 2010 I would love feed back
by: Anonymous

Ok so I live millersport sheridan area amherst ny. Approx 2 years ago ever night i heard what appeared to be a child screaming HELP! one night my neighboor told me there was a coyote in my yard chasing my cat and making crazy noises. after a few days it disappeared and as of today july 7th i came home at 1130 and my cat got a baby rabbit when i went to go put it in the fields something chased me. I finally got a foot away from it. It stood on its hind legs like a prarrie dog and made this horrible screeming noise then ran away. It for sure was at least 4 feet and ran very stealth and cat like. i’ve been doing research for years about to call the town. I can almost name every animal….. Never seen anything like this.

Jul 08, 2010 I would love feed back
by: Anonymous

Ok so I live millersport sheridan area amherst ny. Approx 2 years ago ever night i heard what appeared to be a child screaming HELP! one night my neighboor told me there was a coyote in my yard chasing my cat and making crazy noises. after a few days it disappeared and as of today july 7th i came home at 1130 and my cat got a baby rabbit when i went to go put it in the fields something chased me. I finally got a foot away from it. It stood on its hind legs like a prarrie dog and made this horrible screeming noise then ran away. It for sure was at least 4 feet and ran very stealth and cat like. i’ve been doing research for years about to call the town. I can almost name every animal….. Never seen anything like this.

Jun 16, 2010 What was that?!
by: Marie

As I was walking in the early evening in the Wheatfield/Pendleton area, a creature I’ve never seen before crossed the road quickly and headed for a wooded area. At first I thought it might have been a coyote, but it was definitely a feline. It had short hair, the body was sleek and thin with a long tail and was a medium brown color. The size was that of a small-medium sized dog, but thin. It would be interesting to find out what I saw.

May 07, 2010 Thank you!
by: Jennifer

Your comments validate my thoughts on this sighting. I have spoken to enough professionals who all were quick to discount that this was any kind of cat….some of their suggestions just never seemed to fit…a fisher (much too small/short), a coyote (just NOT the bushy tail one would have), beaver/otter/fox (again, not correct body type, tail or height).

Although my curiosity got the best of me, I foolishly moved in closer. The size of this animal was enough to make my friend call for me to come back. I guess I never took it into consideration that it may have been something not native to the area. I must say that it appears to be quite a stretch (geographically speaking) yet the photos of the jaguarundi truly appear to be a striking match to the animal I saw. (I had never heard of this animal, until I viewed your link—Thanks, Michael!) Certainly Interesting to say the least!!

May 07, 2010 could have been
by: kathy

YOU very well may have seen a wild cat. I live in the suburban area of Chicago and a few years back we had a puma or the dreaded cougar pass through here. My son actually saw it on a quite deserted road in southern Wisconsin. It was being sighted all over the place. Those cats can travel very long distances every day. No one knows what happened to it it just stopped being seen. Also in Chicago about 4 years ago there was one on the streets in Chicago. It hadnt escaped from any zoo so they shot it of course rather than tranqulize it and relocate it. Sometimes people just let their unruly cats go thinking they will survive in the wild. Or it could have been a hybrid escapee. A few years back in my ares people were letting their Bengals go thinking they could survive. People would find them and take them in.

May 07, 2010 My thoughts
by: Michael

On the basis that this is a cat as you say and that is weighs about 45 lbs and is solid dark brown, that narrows down the options massively. The cat was also living in swampland.

This description points overpoweringly to the cat being a jaguarundi except for the weight. This wild cat has a maximum weight of 15 lbs well below your estimate but it is a cat that is a little otter like in appearance and dark brown, ticked coat.

Also, there is the obvious obstacle to this being a jaguarundi namely that the state of New York is miles from its natural range — see jaguarundi range but it does occupy Central and South America.

Of course it could be a captive jaguarundi that is now wild. This wild cat by the way likes wet grassland but is tolerant of arid areas too. It is a decent swimmer. It also has a long thin tail.

What are the alternatives?

A caracal weighs a max of 45 lbs but has white facial markings and distinctive ear tufts, which would have been noticeable. This cat would have to be a released captive cat as its habitat is Africa.

As most wild cats (as you infer) have tabby patterns, for the time being, I am going for the jaguarundi if the assessment of weight can be reappraised.

Thanks for visiting and sharing your experiences.

Michael Avatar

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

29 thoughts on “Western New York Sighting of Unidentified Feline Animal”

  1. Saw long, thin, fairly large animal in my sister’s yard, threatening a cat in a tree, out on a limb. I went out to see why the cat was screaming, when my sister started yelling for me to get in the house, and to look at this animal- what is it? It definitely walked like feline. We could only see the outline, but it was definitely a large cat, bigger than a bobcat.

  2. I saw 2 large animals. They were about the size of a German Shepard. Not dogs. These moved like cats. They were black in color. I live in Lewiston NY. There is a large lawn in the back yard and beyond that there are woods. These animals were moving through the woods parallel to the lawn. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. They had to be about 50 to 60 lbs each. Definitely looked like large cats.

    1. They sound like melanistic (black) subadult cougars. There are other reports of melanistic cougars. They exist. Thanks for sharing Bonnie.

  3. We are getting way to many sights of different types of wild cats in the Eden,New York Area. The DEC will not respond to the fears of the people. I have a horse and am worried about letting him out in the pasture. Some of these cats are being sighted in the Town of Eden.

      1. a knowledgeable friend was out dear hunting in my back woods. that was 10 or 11 2019.he told me he saw a FISHER CAT there. this guy knows his stuff and reading avove felt i should relay this. thanks

  4. I recently saw only fleetingly a large dark colored cat like animal twice and not at the same place , the last time being at the Genesee county park a couple of weeks ago. I would guess it’s height to be around two feet .

    1. Thanks for the sighting Richard. Not sure what the cat is. There are only four possibilities: large domestic cat, bobcat, subadult puma or jaguarundi.

  5. Just had an animal light brownish long body long tail long legs not quite the size of a great dain it was a cat short face ran across the road on Cold Brook rd Homer NY

    1. Probably a fisher, we’ve seen several in the area in the last decade and our encounters have become more frequent the last few years (most of our sightings have been in the area of the upper east branch of the Tioughnioga River) The first time we spotted one was at Little Baltimore, it actually appeared to be relaxing stretched out on East Homer – Little Baltimore Rd., while it’s nose was at the center of the road the tip of it’s tail was at the wheel track near the edge of the road!

  6. Have been searching for an answer to what my husband and I saw cross the state highway in Cairo, Greene county, NY. It was about 3 in the afternoon, summer 2 years ago. The animal was about 3 feet tall, and about 3 feet long from nose to end of tail. The head was feline, pointed ears, no tufts, pointed nose, high cheek bones, long neck. I can not remember if the tail was sleek or had any bushiness to it, but it was not stubby. The animal moved smoothly as it ran across the road and into the brush. We have seen fox, coyotes,cougars, bobcats, have NEVER seen anything like this. It was light brown in color.

  7. Could it have been an animal called a fisher? My brother spotted a strange animal on his trail camera a few years ago. It was eventually identified as a fisher. It looks similar to a wolverine

    1. Good point Amy. Some people do mistake the Fisher Cat as a feline when this species of animal is not a cat.

  8. North of cooperstown, ny. Just an hour ago saw very very clearly a feline animal like ive never seen before. Short hair, brownish, long skinny tail. What also caught my attention.was how it ran across the road. There was no up and down motion to its running. It moved fast and smooth. Smooth is the only word that comes to mind. Did not run like any animal that ive seen.

    1. Good sighting, Jerry. There are only three possibilities if the cat is one of the wild cat species: bobcat, puma or jaguarundi (released from a captive environment?). It might have been a wild cat hybrid bred by someone.

  9. Today I took my boys to the bus stop and I thought I was nuts been trying to find this animal we saw on the internet all morning, then i came across this web page and it made me realize I’m not nuts lol. What we saw was the size of a medium sized dog, very skinny, long skinny tail, light brown color, head down never looked up while running across the road so didn’t see face to well, but it didn’t run like a dog it was more graceful, can’t explain. I’ve seen many wild animals and this was nothing like i’ve ever seen before. I’m in Wappingers Falls, NY area

    1. Thanks Jen. Your sighting is not that unusual and there some wild cats out there which should not be there. Sometimes I think people who keep wild cats as pets end up with the cat escaping. Your sighting does not fit in with any adult wild cat species but an underfed young mountain lion would fit the description.

    2. My husband and I saw the most crazy looking wild animal this morning in Hanover, Pa. First glance was very tall, skinny cat. Very little, short hair. Super long tail (not bushy at all, almost bald looking). It looked like a cross between baby deer, dog, and a cat!! It ran into my neighbors back yard.. about an hour later it was back. My 15 yr old son said it was a chupacabra. I googled this and those are more dog like..similar looking but this thing was more agile like a cat. But tall like a baby deer. Crazy pointed face too. Please tell me we aren’t nuts.. what is this thing??

      1. 🙂 – your comment made me smile. It sounds like you saw a purebred cat (if it is a cat!). If the cat had a tabby coat it might be a Savannah cat – say an F3 (third filial). They are long limbed and what I call “rangy” meaning slender with long limbs. But they do look like cats and you are describing an animal that does not completely look like a cat! The Abyssinian is a possibility and the Ashera. The Cornish Rex is rangy too but the coat is permed!

        The best thing is to look at the pictures of cat breeds page and see if it matches a cat. If not the animal may just be a large slender random bred cat. Some cats are exceptional in their body conformation.

        Failing that you did not see a cat 🙂 – try and get a photo!

  10. My daughter and I were driving on Amsdell road towards rte 20 when a cat-like animal crossed quickly in front of us. It was not a house cat. Too tall, too agile, and too wild looking. Pointed ears grayish-brown in color I’m thinking a Bobcat.and pretty sure it was

  11. Ticonderoga sighting sounds like a bobcat. I’m from that area.

    However, saw something interesting in Pittsford NY today. I have 2 pictures. Not great ones, but the second shows the tail pretty well, one of its more interesting features. VERY bushy. It was at least 20 lbs and had a disproportionately large head, with extra tufts on its neck. It came into our yard around noon, I believe in response to hearing my own cat meowing to get out (screen door). Thought it could be rabid but now I’m pretty sure it was just hungry. It went away when we came out.

    I’m thinking a wild-domestic hybrid. I would’ve said Bobcat bc of the size and head, but not with that tail. I’ll try to get somewhere to upload the pics.

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