Big black cat caught on film in Louisiana (UPDATE: not a panther)

Originally published on July 5, 2013, see the update to this story below.

This is our second black panther story of the day. What’s going on!? This one, however, is impressive and I would really like to see followup on this.

Family spots possible panther – Acadiana’s Multi-Media News Station.

Thursday night, at around 7:30, Karen Fory said her brother-in-law spotted a large black animal in the field behind her friend’s home located on Captain Cade Road.

“You could see it from the fence and it was pretty big. So, I came back to the truck and got the binoculars and we were looking at it through the binoculars,” she explained.

Cathy Irwin, who lives in the home, said Fory called her over immediately to see what they considered to be a black panther.

“We were standing about 100 feet away and you could see it. It was very large,” Irwin said.

Acadiana’s Multi-Media News Station

Even with the photos which are fairly good, game officials can not make a call if it is or isn’t a large domestic cat or big cat such as a black leopard or jaguar. It certainly is NOT a bobcat as indicative of the tracks they found. Game officials are typically very dodgy about this sort of thing and they never seem to be clear in their determinations. Of course they looked but didn’t find anything that would suggest that it is a big cat but the pictures are intriguing. The length of the body seems too large for a domestic cat but distance is unclear. Tests can be done to try and determine the size but I suspect that won’t be done or we won’t hear about it. This area of Louisiana is near wildlife refuges and unsettled areas west of New Orleans.

Screen shot of LA cat

Screen shot of LA cat

There used to be jaguar habitat along the Louisiana coast in the past. The last reported jaguar in Louisiana was killed in June 1886. If this is a jaguar, it is melanistic.

A jaguarundi is a bit smaller but not known to occur even in Texas on its way north from Central America. They may be dark colored but we are still dealing with an extraordinary claim that it is such an animal.

Cougars DO exist in Louisiana with the Department of Fish and Wildlife confirming several sightings. But cougars are NOT melanistic. That is, they have never been documented to occur as all black. That does not mean it’s impossible but it does make this an even stranger observation. The only other large cat (besides domestic) that can be melanistic is a leopard. They are native to Africa but… one was killed recently near the Kentucky/Indiana boarder. This must have been an escaped import. Is this mystery cat a non-native or is it a from nearby making its home here now? Or, it is just an oversized black tabby. I’m VERY curious.

Here is more on black panther sightings in Louisiana.

From 2007. Cryptomundo » Big Black Cats in Louisiana.

From 2011. Cryptomundo » Louisiana Panther Hysteria: Fever Pitch.

2011 sighting turned out to be a well-fed domestic cat. Alleged black panther in Covington was just a large domesticated kitty, state official says | NOLA.com.

Tip: Jay Cooney at Bizarre Zoology blog and Michael Mayes from Texas Cryptid Hunter blog

UPDATE (21-Jul-2013): Check out this video which shows that wildlife officials conducted a test with a full-size puma cutout for scale and showed that the animal in the original picts was MUCH smaller, thus, a domestic cat.

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  14 comments for “Big black cat caught on film in Louisiana (UPDATE: not a panther)

  1. July 5, 2013 at 8:46 PM

    I’d guess lost pet but I’d also like to see the credentials of the hunting & fishing authorities who suggested its a bobcal.

  2. July 5, 2013 at 10:07 PM

    Wow! That IS impressive. It sure looks like a black panther to me.

    Seeing one of these loose wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Irresponsible people can go on line and purchase just about any animal you can think of. Then so often one of two things happens, either the animal some how gets loose, or it gets too big and difficult to care for and they just release it out into the woods.

  3. RDW
    July 5, 2013 at 10:33 PM

    Based on the size of the ear in relation to the head and the length of the tail, It looks like a black panther to me. Of course, I’m no expert on the subject. But that’s what it looks like. If it were, I’d think it were an exotic pet that were turned loose or escaped. I’m somewhat opposed to owning such animals as pets, personally.

  4. DVMKurmes
    July 5, 2013 at 11:11 PM

    It appears that the grass in that field is cut quite short, and compared to the leaves on the tree/shrub near the cat, it looks like a larger than average domestic cat. There are certainly plenty of black kittens wandering around in the video. It is always difficult to judge size in a video like this, and it would be very interesting and fairly easy to get a person to stand in the spot the cat was filmed in to give some scale and perspective to the original video.

  5. July 8, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    Since feral cats of enormous size have been spotted/found/killed in Australia, is it possible that something similar is happening in the U.S.? I know it’s unlikely, since the cats are getting big in Aus due to no predators. But maybe there are regions in the U.S. where predators that might take care of feral cats — like coyotes — are almost no longer in the picture, and that’s opened things up for pets gone wild to get significantly larger over the generations.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-04/huge-feral-cats-arnhem-land/4731696

  6. July 15, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    Aren’t panthers native to the southern US?

  7. July 15, 2013 at 2:06 PM

    NVM…Florida panthers are tan, not black.

  8. July 21, 2013 at 2:00 AM

    I really think this is just another case like the gigantic [ > 1000 lbs] wild boar that a hunter claimed his son killed with a handgun. It’s all an issue of perception. [http://www.dvorak.org/blog/2007/06/08/update-giant-hog-hoax-exposed/] The cat in this picture seems far too close to the ground in the middle, whereas a panther would stand a bit taller in that area. This seems to be the new internet fad of the week, good-bye harlem shake ;) hello black panthers.

  9. July 23, 2013 at 9:55 AM

    I’ve had this happen to me, where I see a domestic house cat in just the right angle and distance and it looks like a large cat. I have to say, though, in the Puma cutout, it doesn’t look like they lined it up in the same spot as the house cat to me. I think they should have taken more pictures from different spots.

  10. Katkinkate
    July 25, 2013 at 4:41 AM

    A person’s eyes can play tricks on them, especially in the late afternoon/evening half-light and after ingestion of alcohol. In the evening the half-light distorts our perception of distances and relative sizes and some domestic moggies are just the right proportions and move like a big cat, especially when they’re black.

  11. Lennie
    November 14, 2013 at 8:46 PM

    As a child, I saw a black panther with a cub in the woods. Both the adult and the cub were all black; and despite the presence of her young, both the parent and cub took off after a quick glance our way. They may have had spots, but they were definitely black. My uncle and my cousin who were with me at the time were also witness to them. My grandparents also remember seeing panthers often, and they do indeed recall spotting a few black ones. That was well over sixty years ago, and we are no where near any jaguar habitat. Furthermore, several people in our area have seen an elusive Louisiana panther, even though most experts say that they are no longer in existence in the wild. A few years ago, one was caught on camera here , and a plethora of tracks were left behind. Wildlife and fisheries confirmed it was a panther. It was tan in coloration, but it was indeed a legitimate spotting. If anyone is interested there are two Louisiana panthers in captivity at the Alexandria Zoo. They are not black, and the staff is quick to say that there is no such thing as a Louisiana black panther. Nevertheless, the staff are very knowledgeable about the native Louisiana panther. I am baffled as to why so many sites attribute not only the black panther as a myth, but simply the Louisiana panther as legend as well despite historical documentation proving that they used to be a part of the local ecosystem. The one that I saw may very well have been an exotic that either migrated too far, or it could have been an escaped captive animal; however, I find it very odd that my grandparents saw one or two black panthers as children. My grandfather also told stories about seeing one as an adult while keeping a watchful eye over his cattle. He took no pleasure in tall tales and was of a very serious sort . It is indeed odd as well that the one that I saw had a cub. Nevertheless, perhaps it best that they remain a myth, that might be the only way to protect them. After all, there are far too many fools with guns in Louisiana.

  12. Karen Oliver-Paull
    March 1, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    If the tracks are as large as a bobcats (which this cat obviously wasn’t if for no other reason than the long tail) it has to be something around the size of a bobcat. It could be just a huge black house cat. I’ve seen some really big house cats, one of which weighed 24 pounds and was nearly up to my knee at the shoulder and wasn’t fat at all, just very big.

  13. MR
    March 19, 2014 at 9:16 PM

    I saw a large black cat/cat-like animal a few years ago in Massachusetts near a bridge that goes over some train tracks. The town is full of woods but there are historic stories of anything like that being there and no one believes me. It was much thinner than this guy though, with much longer legs…

  14. fnord
    April 14, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    LDWF has confirmed black jaguars are in Louisiana

    http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/news/34503

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