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Have you seen a large, spotted, long-tailed wildcat?

Have you seen a large, spotted, long-tailed wildcat?

 

The photo above is of a rare, spotted Jaguarmundi, captured in Costa Rica! The wildcat I saw had the same body proportions, but the spots were more muted, like on an indigenous Bobcat. Also, its tail was furry, like a Bobcat, but very long like a Jaguarmundi. The Ocelot’s tail is not as furry.

Bobcats got their name because of their bobbed tail.  However, there was a wildcat in my back woods Friday night that had the body proportions and size of an Ocelot or Jaguarmundi and which looked like a spotted Jaguarmundi.   Such critters are not supposed to be in the Southern Appalachians!  They are tropical animals, which supposedly could not survive our mountain winters.

Appalachian Bobcat

My newly restored old house is on the brow of a mountain overlooking the Nacoochee Valley.  I see a lot of wildlife here.  A 2-3 year old male Black Bear passes through several times a week.  Herds of deer are also common.  Gray Squirrels and Flying Squirrels are endemic.  Two nature preserves . . . one 50 acres and the other, 12 acres, adjoin my 2 1/2 acres so the feeling of the mountainous landscape is like being in a national forest.  Of course, the Chattahoochee National Forest and Chattahoochee River are close by.  The house and nearby property are illuminated with floodlights to discourage our local bear from messing with the house.

Friday morning, a flock of wild turkeys nested in the back of my property.   That night around 11 PM, my dogs started barking.  I looked out the second story bathroom, swept the woods with a powerful light and was surprised to see a large spotted wildcat with a long tail.  It was much too long and tall to be a feral domesticated cat.  It must have weighed at least 40 pounds.  Unlike Bobcats and Mountain Lions, it made no sound while hunting.  The animal ignored my search light.  It continued stalking the turkeys, until it came to an oak where, they were nesting on branches and climbed the tree.  It caught one that flew into the trunk, while in a panic.

An ocelot in Mexico.

In know what I saw.  I have 20-5 vision and good night time vision.   Such critters are not supposed to live here.   I googled “long tailed Bobcat” and found several articles about eyewitnesses, who have claimed to have see such animals in Texas, Arkansas and Pennsylvania.  Biologists are generally dismissive of their claims, but again . . . I know what I saw.  It was NOT a feral house cat or a Bobcat.  The spots were more like this ocelot, but muted . . . plus the tail was furry, like a Jaguarmundi.  It was big enough to quickly overpower and kill an adult turkey.  Have you seen any animals like this one in your neck of the woods?

 

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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.

24 Comments

  1. PRES@GLORIAFARLEY.COM'

    Richard, get your self a trail-cam and see if you can get photos/videos of the creature.

    I live in the Panhandle of Nebraska. A man who lives in Scottsbluff told be that a couple of years ago he saw what looked like a black mountain lion. Mountain lions are making a comeback in the Panhandle. But ours are tan/brown. He was sure it was a South American panther (or whatever the correct name is)

    Reply
    • There are Black Mountain Lions in South Georgia and Florida, but again academicians, sitting at their university desks, don’t believe the eyewitnesses. Our mountain lions seem to be a dark tan color, but I have only seem them at night, when there is minimal moonlight.

      Reply
      • DBREWTONJR@GMAIL.com'

        The DNR and Fl FWC deny all sightings in order to continue pushing their narrative of less than 160 FL panthers in the wild. They need the funds to continue doing their research and repopulation efforts. 7 years ago my wife and I watched a FL panther in daytime 14 miles northwest of Savannah Ga for over 2 minutes and they fail to substantiate our claim. Although one was killed in Lagrange Ga 10 years ago. DNA testing showed it was an offspring from one released in Florida. Too many sightings for the population to be only 160!

        Reply
        • Two young mountain lions have actually been captured in Metro Atlanta and then transported southward to the Okefenokee, yet the DNR continues to deny their presence in Georgia. I think the problem is rooted in the DNR Board of Directors, who for the most part seem to be lobbyists for environmentally harmful industries, mainly serving in order to get free weekends at golf resorts.

          Reply
  2. redearth@hemc.net'

    Did you get a look at its face? if it was wide, it could have been a Maine Coon/bobcat mix. The markings would be like the cat pictured above, but the south American cat has a narrow face compared to the Maine coon and/or the bobcat

    Reply
    • It had a narrow face like an Ocelot. The head was much smaller in proportion to the body than a Bobcat. I couldn’t get a clear view of the front of the face because the cat was moving along the edge of the illumination from my floodlights.

      Reply
      • csmoke@webound.com'

        If you locate a fur buyer in your area, and if he is friendly…, you can likely get best information about the animals your area. the jaguar used to come into Arizona from Mexico.

        Reply
  3. overtonsonly@hotmail.com'

    wild cats as they are called in Texas (to be distinct from bobcats & lynx) & not rare in south part. Are not unknown in Oklahoma along Red River. My father & I in 70s, chased large one down dirt road in PU (us, not the cat) until it jumped into brush. Father said that was the first he had seen since 20s or 30s. BUT this one was tawny/grey with stripped tail. & yes, the experts “Know” they are not here. He even mentioned it to a game warden. reply “it must have escaped from a zoo” Kin living at or near Wichita Mts, say they see them often.

    Reply
    • Thank you! Finally, someone knows what I am talking about.

      Reply
  4. silverton4@silverton4.net'

    You’ll probably see this one again. A trail cam is a good idea as an earlier commenter said. Mountain lions aren’t supposed to be here where I live, but the local paper recently published the trail cam image of one taken by a local man’s camera. Hope to see the image of this jaguarmundi you saw, posted to an article here.

    Reply
  5. kkakins@gmail.com'

    I thought I’d read somewhere that climate change has all sorts of critters moving hither and yon these days, so I’m not at all surprised! Very cool sighting! Can’t wait until you see a skunk ape!

    Reply
  6. rogerbondsmedical@gmail.com'

    I don’t know what your cat was, but thought you’d find this interesting. In the late ’90s my wife and son saw what must have been a Florida panther in what is now called Milton, GA. I didn’t believe it and carefully interviewed them separately. Their description was spot on including the size, color, long tail, short hair and how they could see the muscles as it bounded like a cat, completely unlike a canine from the parking lot and across the lawn. They got a good long look at it. Here’s another cat sighting: My neighbor who is a great outdoorsman, was head of night security for a large office building that is on Big Creek in Alpharetta, GA. One of his men was terrified when he claimed to have seen a “mountain lion” behind the building along the creek (that creek is still pretty wild to this day). My neighbor is a trained security professional and sat his man down and showed him images on the internet of animals, including large cats. The man described and repeatedly identified a mountain lion/panther. Then two months later it was spotted again, with a cub, so they were breeding. The following year they spotted another that the guard claimed was bigger, so perhaps it was the male. In 2014 I saw a Lynx near Milton, GA. it was late afternoon but with good light. I saw whatever it was running along a fence line for over 100 yards. At first I assumed it was a coyote but then it broke in the the clear and in a few bounds sailed from fence line to fence line across the road. I’ve seen Lynx out west, and plenty of bobcats in Georgia and they are very different animals. Lynx have much longer legs and are much bigger than our little bobcats. This was absolutely 100% a Lynx. Some months later a farm customer of ours told me she had seen Lynx several times near Stone Mountain where she’s lived for 40 years. For the Lynx near me, I think it may have escaped from a wild animal farm that used to be a few miles from my sighting. It’s closed now. But then she’s made me wonder how her family could have seen them for years so many miles away. I just wonder what else is out there.

    Reply
    • On several occasions a mountain lion sauntered past my previous cabin at night. I also heard its call even more times. A lot of people have seen mountain lions in North Georgia. Some have even been caught within the city limits of Atlanta, but the official policy of the State of Georgias is still that there are no mountain lions in Georgia.

      Reply
  7. woolvinj@gmail.com'

    People are always buying exotic cats as pets. You may have seen a Savannah cat, a Maine coon/bobcat mix as someone mentioned, or who knows. I saw a jacarundi on my gamecam one night, you should install a gamecam. I have lions and bears oh my out in West Texas, but not in the numbers that you have them where you live in Georgia.

    Reply
  8. iwg42@hotmail.com'

    Hey Richard,
    In the later 90’s a friend had a Stafford shire Terrier that was about 110 lbs. She did not like cats and killed several over the years despite my friends best efforts to stop her. One day they came back from the park and when they went on the front porch, a VERY large cat was on the far end railing. That end of the porch was about 10 ft off the ground, so instead of jumping off when the dog went after it ,the cat turned and attacked. After going back and forth across the porch the dog killed the cat. but her face and chest were torn up from the cats claws and had a large rip on the neck from its teeth. The vet put a couple of stitches in her neck, gave her a shot and said she was luck to have not lost one or both eyes, the claw marks went across the eyes.
    When I saw the dead cat I was not sure what kind it was. Another friend had a stuffed bobcat his dad had killed years before so I knew what one looked like. This cat had markings like a bobcat, had a long tail and had to be about 40 lbs. This would have been a monster of a domestic cat and was not fat or fluffy. To this day I have no idea what kind of cat or how such a large cat was in the Norcross area. I think some one may have had it as an exotic pet or maybe a hybrid cat of some type, but like you I could not find a match that was supposed to live in Georgia.
    I guess these animals did not talk to the experts to find out of they are supposed live here!
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • That is exactly the type wildcat I saw. It was powerful like a jungle cat. A Bobcat would have been no match. The unfortunate turkey flew into a tree trunk. Before it could fly away, the wild cat had leaped through the air and broken its neck, before either animal hit the ground below.

      Reply
  9. ah.all@inorbit.com'

    Fantastic that you were able to witness this cat capture prey, Richard. Certainly sounds, from the distinctions you list, it is, indeed, a jaguarundi. I know, for a fact, they exist outside the tropics. One, affectionately known as “Blackie,” rested against my bedroom window every week when making it’s rounds. I never heard anything but soft mewing from ol’ Blackie. I’ve seen the 3 types of Jaguarundi native to Costa Rica, large, medium, and small. The smallest, a stocky, perhaps 10 -12 pounder, were almost always brindled, like a pit bull, dark tan with dark grey streaks, and most commonly seen pretty high up in the mountains of Heredia, where it is downright chilly all night, every night. The largest, 60 – 90 pounds, with a slender, 4 foot long body, excluding an equally long, thick tail, were most often a solid, uniform, very dark grey or cinnamon, rarely brindled. I never heard of a spotted jagarundi of any size, but will not dispute your description, as it sounds like that’s precisely what you saw. From my experience, I’m pretty confident the “black panthers” people spot in south Georgia and north Florida are, in fact, jaguarundi. As you mentioned, they have an unusually small head, and a thick, long tail, long hind legs and short front legs, relative to body size. There is no mistaking a jaguarundi for any other wild cat. The most recent sighting I had was this spring, visiting my sister, in New Orleans. We watched a small, very likely female, dark grey Jaguarundi sunning on the wall of a memorial cemetery. They definitely inhabit North America.

    Reply
    • Thank you sir for the info! I suspect that the Jaguarmundi’s in these parts have cross bred with bobcats, but this was definitely NOT a bobcat.

      Reply
    • The Alabama jaguarundi is described as being smaller than a bobcat, but what I saw was bigger than a bobcat. It was about the size of an ocelot. At least I now know that I was not imaginging things!

      Reply
      • moonbranchinfo@gmail.com'

        It can also depend on the size of your bobcats. Here in the mountains of WNC they range a little larger than a domestic cat. On the coastal plain of NC (and farther south I conjecture) they can be as large as a collie…. Of course you could have seen one of our infamous Wampus Cats!

        Check these also:
        https://karlshuker.blogspot.com/2017/09/the-onza-heresy-unmasking-mystery-cat.html

        https://karlshuker.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-black-puma-that-never-was-case-of.html

        Dr. Shakur maintains a wealth of info on mystery animals of the world… including stuff on our favorite hairy wildman of the woods….. When you see one of those let me know; we can compare notes.

        Reply
        • Our bobcats in the Georgia Mountains are much larger than domestic cats. However, they have a stocky build. This wild cat had the bod proportions of a mountain lion, but was smaller.

          Reply
  10. Lokitoad@gmail.com'

    thank you for your great website. – i live in staunton, va and just finished your wonderful article on aboriginal inhabitants of the shenandoah valley. – i’m a zoologist and know that Jagaurundis are indeed in north america; certified records from texas and E.O. Wilson recently wrote about sightings in alabama. – so they could be in your neck of the woods. – did you know that the Jaguar was sighted in arkansas when europeans first arrived here (sometime around 1600s). – and the sightings of Cougars that commenters talk about make total sense; individuals, particularly young adult males are known to have traveled/dispersed over a thousand miles from their birth site – one was unfortunately killed in connecticutt that had made it their from north dakota

    Reply
    • Oh the state DNR has captured two mountain lions inside the Perimeter Highway of Metro Atlanta, but still claims that there are none in Georgia. A mountain lion came by my previous cabin near Amicalola Falls several times at night. I have heard their calls even more times. It is different than the bobcat’s. Jaguars appear on the art of Native towns in Alabama and southern Georgia, so I assume that they were once here. I know Staunton well . . . once did a radio show there, when I lived on Toms Brook in Shenandoah County, VA.

      Reply

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