UK Couple Narrowly Avoid Striking ‘Big Cat’ In Road, Cali Cat Cafe Holds Festivus Fundraiser

A UK couple say they narrowly avoided hitting a big cat that bolted in front of their car Wednesday morning.

Chris and Marion said they were driving on the A303 in Hampshire, a rural road in southern England surrounded by farmland, fields and wooded stretches, at 7 a.m. when the felid leapt across the road and ran into a nearby field, possibly giving chase to prey. While others suggested it could have been a lynx — which went extinct in the UK more than 1,000 years ago — the witnesses ruled out the possibility, saying the cat was “twice the size of a fox” with a tail that was “thick and solid.”

When they made a Facebook post about the encounter, several others claimed they’ve seen a similar-looking “big cat” moving through Hampshire’s fields. There are several groups dedicated to alleged big cat sightings in the UK on Facebook.

It’s the latest in a surprisingly persistent legend of phantom big cats prowling the British countryside. There are no extant big cats in the UK or in Europe. They exist only on other continents: Lions and leopards in Africa, tigers and leopards in Asia, and jaguars in South America. Among felids that are not true big cats but are often grouped with them, pumas exist only in the Americas and cheetahs are exclusively found in Africa.

Despite that, hundreds of witnesses report seeing feliform animals much larger than well-fed ferals or small wildcats. A similar phenomenon exists in Australia, where for years people have insisted they’ve seen big cats slinking through the bush.

Ghost Cat
“Ghost Cat” illustration by Ken Jovi Credit: Ken Jovi/Artstation

While it’s possible that people in the British countryside or Australian bush are illegally keeping large felids, and it’s possible that a handful could have escaped over the decades, that’s an unlikely explanation for the sightings for several reasons. While big cats are apex predators, animals who have lived in captivity all their lives and have been given food will not know where to go or how to hunt. In places like Texas, where as many as 5,000 tigers live in backyard enclosures, escaped cats are quickly spotted wandering human neighborhoods, confused and looking for food.

If an escaped tiger or leopard was somehow able to rapidly adjust to the English countryside and fend for itself without being spotted, there would be evidence — pug marks, droppings, claw marks denoting territorial boundaries on trees, the carcasses of prey animals, burglarized pens, farm animals missing and terrorized.

That goes double if, as some suggest, there is a breeding population of panthera genus cats. Even a handful of such animals would consume thousands of pounds of meat each week.

Still, as Wednesday’s alleged sighting proves, rumors of large cats stalking the mists of the English countryside are unlikely to die out any time soon.

A Festivus for the Rest of Us…And Our Cats

Festivus is the celebration that keeps on giving.

The operators of Tail Town Cats, a cat cafe in Pasadena, California, are hosting a Festivus get-together that will double as a showcase for adoptable kitties and a way to help support adoption efforts.

Hosted by a cat named Art Vandelay — who found his forever home through the cafe — the celebration will include a traditional Festivus pole, the Airing of Grievances and Feats of Strength. (Among the grievances listed in advance are general disappointment with the frequency of treats, displeasure at sharing litter boxes, and humans who recycle cardboard boxes instead of giving them to the felines.)

People in the Los Angeles area can attend in person, while others can watch online.

Art Vandelay
Art Vandelay found his forever home through the cat cafe and will return to host its first-ever Festivus celebration.

Seinfeld fans will recognize Art Vandelay as George Costanza’s most frequently-used alias. Vandelay is alternately described as an importer-exporter or as an architect. As George famously said: “I’ve always wanted to pretend to be an architect.”

As for Festivus, it’s taken on a life of its own 25 years after it was popularized on Seinfeld.

The made-up holiday had its humble origins in the home of writer Daniel O’Keefe, who introduced it to the nation — and immortalized it in the process — by writing it into “The Strike,” a 1997 episode of the sitcom. At the time, Seinfeld was a ratings juggernaut, averaging more than 30 million viewers an episode. Festivus is celebrated annually on Dec. 23.

13 thoughts on “UK Couple Narrowly Avoid Striking ‘Big Cat’ In Road, Cali Cat Cafe Holds Festivus Fundraiser”

  1. Dear Big Bud Why would someone send me a picture of a stupid kid with a dead cat tied to a rope throwing it into a pond to attract alligators? How long would it take to tie that kid up and troll with him? It makes me so SO sad that people do this! Someone should have done it to him while he was small! GREAT BAIT! I am so sorry to bother you as I know you all love cats, Buddy in particular… But I just want to punch someone like that who has no love for life! And then I suppose he would sell the poor alligator too? Or keep it illegally and not pay attention to its needs? Or feed it neighbors’ animals? It has really made me sad and I am so sorry to send this! Sincerely, SissyBeans

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hey Sissy – Can you help me understand the scenario? You said someone may have hacked your Facebook account? Or is someone on another account sending you these photos?

      Facebook has rules against harassing other users and against posting objectionable content, including animal abuse. If it’s an external account, I would report the poster to Facebook.

      I understand how frustrating and upsetting it is to see animal abuse videos and images online. For literally years I tried to get YouTube to remove monkey abuse videos, to no avail, until I started enlisting the help of animal welfare groups with big megaphones to shame the company. They started to remove the content, but it was like wack a mole, with new accounts springing up for every one we got banned. I felt a deep sense of despair knowing these animals were out there somewhere in China, Cambodia and Vietnam, being abused for the entertainment of YouTube users. Every instinct I had screamed at me to protect the animals and punish their tormentors, but of course that is not possible when I’m an American living thousands of miles away.

      I think your best recourse is to report the user, then block him or her for your own sanity.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Good idea! I am pretty sure I was hacked. No one I know would EVER send me things like that! I am pretty sure I deleted it so quick it burned rubber on the sides of the email! If I can just block all of those type of images! Once you see them they are forever burned into your mind! How is Little Bud doing? Up to mischief? Our Spunkmeyer is hard at work, trying to keep his chair warm!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Is someone sending it to you externally, from another account? Or are they using your account to post the animal abuse images?

        If it’s the former, it’s just a troll, if it’s the latter, then that’s concerning because it would mean you’ve been hacked.

        I apologize, that’s the best I can do without knowing more, but like I said, if it’s someone trolling you by posting the images to get a rise out of you, best to report them and block them.

        Good luck!

        Like

      3. I got off of Facebook years ago when i saw they allowed trash to post photo of dead puppies hanging on a rope. 5 teens in a row with 5 dead puppies. That image will never leave my mind.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Facebook/Meta has a monumental job policing content from hundreds of millions (billions?) of users, and I don’t envy anyone who has to do that job, but I agree with you. Some things you can’t “unsee,” and unfortunately there are people out there who think it’s funny or amusing to traumatize others.

        Like

  2. You are so kind! I have no way to stop the abuse! Why do people think a dead cat is amusing? (I am so sorry as I am also sick! I had some kind of flu even though vaccinated from it!) But the main thing is why do people hurt cats? Why do they hurt other animals? And my kitty is home and doesn’t go outside ever! He was a rescue from a pack of coyotes! He is ours and we protect him!

    Liked by 2 people

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