What Kind Of Cat Is This?

A reader in Alabama sent this image to the Bangor Daily News and asked for help identifying the cat.

Like many other states, Alabama is home to bobcats and cougars, but we can cross them both off the list: The long tail eliminates the possibility of a bobcat, while the coat pattern and build of the cat rules out a puma.

Aside from puma, bobcats and the lynx, almost all other species of wild cat in the western hemisphere are found only in South America.

The cat in the photo is muscular and looks like it’s taking a leisurely stroll, but something in the wooded area has caught its attention. The dipped tail may indicate uncertainty. Its tabby stripes are well-defined but broken, a trait often seen in domestic cats.

Finally, although Bangor says there’s not much to help put the cat’s overall size in context, it’s almost certainly smaller than it looks, judging from the barrel in the background. In fact, if you expand the image and look closely at the barrel, you can see there’s an arched entry cut out of it, and it’s secured to some kind of foundation. Who knows, maybe someone converted it into a small shelter for this cat and other strays.

I took the image, cropped it close, tried to enhance the details as much as possible without ruining the data, and got this:

The mystery cat of Alabama

My verdict: It’s a domestic cat.

The proportions, tail and gait are all consistent with a domestic cat, as is the coat pattern. The cat in the photo doesn’t resemble any local wild cats, and the cat isn’t as large as it may initially appear.

What do you think?

4 thoughts on “What Kind Of Cat Is This?”

  1. I agree. It may be on the large side for a domestic cat (as you said, there’s not much there for scale), but I’ve personally known cats that were on the high side of 20 pounds, so it’s quite likely just a larger-than-usual domestic cat.
    For reference, in my family’s households and mine, a “small” cat is at least 10 pounds, and the average is 15. We’ve always had big cats.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed, plus it seems to be a kind of regular thing when people mistake domestic cats for larger wild cats. Remember the Savannah cat that was abandoned in the UK and people thought it was a leopard or something?

      Just don’t tell Buddy that 10 pounds is a small cat, he thinks he’s a tiger!


    1. With all the stuff in the background it’s difficult to clearly see the outline of the cat’s head. I wasn’t sure if the head has a bobcat/lynx look or if just looks that way because of the visual ambiguity.

      Liked by 1 person

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