Tag: Savannah cat

Hilarious News Report Claims ‘Black Pumas’ Are Rampaging Across The UK

Shhhhh!

No one tell NewsCorp that “black pumas” don’t exist, pumas are native to the Americas, leopards are native to Africa and Asia, and a “black panther” is a color morph, not a species of cat.

A story from Fox News — prompted by a similar story in the UK’s Sun, part of the same Rupert Murdoch-owned media conglomerate — claims the British are “unnerved” by an “uptick” in sightings of cryptid big cats. The mysterious creatures are supposedly running rampant in the British countryside and in the suburbs, according to the article, which identifies them as black pumas, black panthers and black leopards.

Oddly, the story says the sightings are up significantly because there have been three “big cat” sightings in October, immediately before informing readers there are 2,000 such sightings in the UK every year.

Little Buddy and I are not exactly known for our math skills, but 2,000 sightings a year works out to 167 sightings per month, which is a lot more than three. Fifty five times more, in fact. So the story should really be about a dramatic dip in phantom big cat sightings, shouldn’t it?

What evidence does the Fox report cite for its breathless claim about big cats taking over the UK? A pair of grainy security camera videos, including one showing a “big cat sighting” at night, and the word of a “big cat sighting expert,” alternately called a “countryside expert” in other media reports, who by the way happens to be hawking a documentary on the sightings.

“It’s a crucial issue,” self-described wildcat expert Rick Minter told The Sun. “How do we come to terms with living alongside big cats in Britain?”

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Pumas, also known as cougars, mountain lions, panthers and catamounts, are native to the Americas. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

For readers unfamiliar with the highest echelons of reputable journalism, The Sun is the UK’s foremost bastion of trustworthy reporting, a tabloid par excellence whose editorial staff are known for breaking stories about “crazed werewolves” and immigrants barbecuing the late queen’s swans when they weren’t running topless photos of models on Page 3. The Sun is owned by NewsCorp, the parent company of Fox News.

As for the two pieces of footage, one is the aforementioned blurry mess recorded by a home security camera at night, and shows a few frames of a cat’s behind and a tail as the felid walks out of the frame. The other is a blurry clip the credulous claim depicts a large cat feeding on a sheep. There’s no indication the figure is a felid of any type.

As far as we’re concerned, there are a few possible explanations for the sightings:

They’re former pets

India the tiger
India the tiger was found wandering the suburbs of Houston in 2021. In this photo, he’s enjoying life in his sanctuary’s large enclosure where he’s got plenty of room, stimulation, toys and even his own rock pool.

If there are indeed big cats roaming the British countryside and suburbs, they would have to be former pets of people who acquired them on the illegal wildlife market, broke the law by “importing” them into the UK, then broke several additional laws by keeping them as pets until the cats quickly grew and the owners realized keeping them is untenable.

Such situations aren’t unheard of, obviously, but they can’t account for a dozen big cats on the loose at any one time, much less more than a thousand as Minter claims.

More importantly, big cats who are taken from their mothers as days-old cubs, sold as pets and later dumped are universally confused, terrified and unable to fend for themselves. They end up roaming suburbia in broad daylight, like a nine-month-old tiger named India who was spotted wandering around the outskirts of Houston in 2021, sniffing out potential food in garbage cans because they don’t know how to hunt.

If these phantom big cats were former pets, they’d be spotted, captured and taken to sanctuaries within a matter of days.

They’re small wildcats formerly native to the area, like the Eurasian lynx

The problem is, the Eurasian lynx was extirpated from the UK about 1,400 years ago. There have been debates among conservationists about reintroducing wild populations to the British countryside — and to Ireland — but no concrete plans as of yet. Proponents say the lynx could be beneficial, keeping deer populations level without major human intervention.

Eurasian lynx adults can grow to about the size of medium dogs, so it’s possible they can be mistaken for “big cats” in blurry video, especially when perspective and/or lack of other objects makes it difficult to place their actual size in context. However, as with big cats, any Eurasian lynx spotted in the UK are likely to be former pets.

They’re housecats

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This feral cat, a plain old member of the felis catus species, was repeatedly mistaken for a big cat in western Australia back in 2018.

If witnesses in the UK are mistaking house cats for big cats, they wouldn’t be the first.

Stories abound of little cats prompting “big cat” sightings, from Vancouver (a Savannah cat) to Scranton, Pa. (a missing house cat), to San Jose (a Maine Coon) and even Australia. (A feral cat.)

One wildlife ranger in Australia became so annoyed with fielding frequent big cat reports that he implored people to educate themselves.

“People need to get over the idea the cats are panthers,” wildlife ranger Tim Gilbertson told Australia’s ABC news. “It is just not on. They are big feral cats, at least 50% bigger than a house cat and they are powerful.”

The usual issues are in play here: Fuzzy security camera footage, night sightings, confused witnesses. You’d think there would be more phantom big cat sightings in the US, since pumas can grow to the size of jaguars and could be mistaken for lions, but people who live in areas where pumas range tend to know they’re around and what they look like. They’re also the definition of scaredy cats, reluctant to let humans spot them or get anywhere near them.

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Frequently mistaken for a tiger: Buddy the Cat.

Ultimately, witness reports count don’t count for much, and not just because memory is malleable.

Thousands of people have reported seeing Bigfoot, chupacabras, the Jersey Devil and the Loch Ness monster, but those creatures are all firmly in cryptid territory.

There’s Occam’s Razor, and there’s common sense: For a primate species like Bigfoot to exist, for example, there would need to be a breeding population, enough prey for the creatures to feed themselves, and someone somewhere would have found remains at some point. (Bigfoot sightings go back to the days before Columbus set foot on New World shores, but it’s only been in the last century or so that the cryptid has entered the popular imagination via folklore and media.)

Likewise, if there are indeed 1,000 big cats prowling the British countryside, as Minter claims, there would be a breeding population, ubiquitous tracks and the remains of prey animals killed in ways consistent with big cat ambush techniques. Cats of all sizes are ambush hunters and have a distinct way of killing prey which is unlike other animals.

The UK’s big cat sightings should be treated more like the UFO sightings in the US and particularly around Area 51. They start with a kernel of potential truth — the existence of a secret base to test experimental military aircraft, or the possibility that big cats who were former pets have been let loose — which leads people to consider the possibility, then when they see something they can’t easily explain, they reach for the exceptional.

But as Carl Sagan famously said, exceptional claims require exceptional proof, and it’s no accident that things like UFOs, cryptid primates and phantom big cats only appear on the grainiest, blurriest and darkest footage.

My money is on domestic cats mistaken for their much larger cousins. Maybe Buddy’s been taking some transatlantic flights under my nose. I’ll have a little chat with him about it and ask him to kindly stop terrifying our friends across the pond.

 

 

 

Ruh Roh: As Pet Thefts Rise, Cops Advise Against Posting Photos Online

With the violent abduction of Lady Gaga’s dogs grabbing headlines this week, police say “petnapping” is on the rise, and people who post photos of their furry friends online are making it easy for thieves to identify targets.

The West Hollywood abduction of Gaga’s pets — who have since been safely returned by an apparently uninvolved person — was particularly disturbing and dramatic, as the robbers shot dog-walker Ryan Fischer four times in the chest before making off with two of the singer’s three French bulldogs.

Thankfully Fischer is stable and expected to make a full recovery, according to his family.

But the incident wasn’t the only high-profile pet-napping case in recent weeks, with a man stealing a van full of daycare-bound dogs in Portland earlier this month and smaller-scale dog heists reported in the US and UK.

“We have two types of crime here. One is the opportunists where they see a dog on its own and they steal it,” Det. Supt Neil Austin of the National Police Chiefs’ Council told The Guardian. “And the other is the more organised element where they target breeders or people who are selling puppies online.”

Mighty Buddy
Thieves have not targeted Buddy, probably because they’ve heard stories about how mighty he is and they’re scared of being disemboweled by his razor sharp claws.

With “designer” breeds and animals with unique looks commanding top dollar, pet theft has become a lucrative side hustle for criminals.

And with so many people posting photos of their pets online and creating social media accounts for their dogs and cats, it’s easy for thieves to identify four-legged targets.

“The advice I would give from a police perspective is be aware of social media,” Austin said. “People share pictures of their dogs and puppies on social media and very often haven’t got their privacy settings set correctly, and they use tags which obviously show where you live which is something to be aware of.”

While most cases that have made the news involve dogs, likely because they’re more vulnerable when their owners take them for walks, cats can become targets as well. Savannah cats often go for more than $10,000, while the ultra-rare Buddinese is priceless.

Which brings us to our next point, a crucial one. Buddy would like everyone to know he does not actually live in New York, and that his true location is a secret.

“I could be living in Rome,” the troublemaking tabby cat said. “I could be Luxembourgish. Maybe I live in Königreich Romkerhall or the Principality of Sealand. You just don’t know.”

“The one thing you can be certain of is I definitely don’t live in New York.”

Kingdom of Buddy
Maybe Buddy lives here.

French Couple Buys ‘Savannah Kitten,’ Gets Tiger Cub Instead

A French couple who answered an online ad to buy a Savannah kitten ended up with a tiger cub instead.

The couple, from Le Havre — a coastal town in Normandy, about 110 miles west of Paris — plunked down $7,000 for the little cat, who they were told was an exotic mix between a Serval and a domestic cat.

After about a week, they realized their “kitten” was a tiger cub and contacted authorities, UPI reported. Specialists from the French Biodiversity Office determined the cub is a Sumatran tiger and are caring for the growing cat.

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That happened back in 2018, and the reason we’re only hearing about it now is because French police have completed their investigation in which they tracked down the seller and arrested nine people on animal trafficking laws.

There are only some 4,000 tigers remaining in the wild in the entire world. Habitat destruction, poaching and the illegal wildlife market are the primary causes pushing the iconic big cats to extinction.

Meanwhile, Buddy the Cat believes he too was born of wild tiger stock and was mistaken for a common kitten when he was adopted by Big Buddy.

“Obviously, they dyed my fur gray,” Buddy said. “But they couldn’t do anything to hide how ripped I am.”

All images via Wikimedia Commons.

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Amazing Cat Breeds: The Buddinese

Hello and welcome to Amazing Cat Breeds™, our new column about the finest cat breeds!

Savannah. Bengal. Toyger. Lykoi.

Those are just some of the names that come to mind when the topic of discussion turns to the rarest and most singular of cat breeds, those wildly expensive designer felines who are the exclusive animal companions of people with impeccable taste and equally impressive bank accounts.

But what if we told you there’s another option that stands above the rest in beauty, temperament and exclusivity? What if we told you there’s a breed that makes the mighty Bengal and the exotic Toyger look downright pedestrian?

Enter the Buddinese, a breed so rare and so difficult to acquire, most cat fancy aficionados consider it cryptozoological.

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The Buddinese: A cat breed so exclusive, you’ve never heard of it until now.

What is a Buddinese?

With its stunning emerald eyes hinting at deep sapience, its graceful gait and its sleek, powerful musculature, the Buddinese most closely represents a tiger in miniature, squeezing all the ferociousness of that majestic animal into a more compact form factor.

Those who count themselves among the lucky few to know Buddinese firsthand find it impossible to agree on the breed’s finest quality. Is it the Buddinesian’s fierce feline intelligence? Its regal presence? Or is it the breed’s astonishingly silky coat, shimmering like a beach of crushed diamond under starlight?

Putting guard dogs to shame

One argument frequently employed by those lacking discernment is that dogs, those olfactorily offensive beasts, are superior companion animals because of their watchful nature and ability to neutralize unwanted intruders.

But what if we told you the growl of a Buddinese strikes fear into the hearts of even the most accomplished burglars and home invasion artists? This breed is the dictionary definition of fearless, its dread visage enough to call forth rivulets of terror-piss from those who harbor malicious intent.

With a Buddinese guarding your home, the question isn’t “Will it be a match for armed intruders?” It’s “Will it even have to growl before the unfortunate souls who entered its territory unbidden are seized by mindless dread and involuntarily evacuate their bowels?”

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Apex predator: No sane person or animal would willingly confront such a powerful felid.

The Adonis of cats

It is said that it’s impossible for a Buddinese to strike a pose, for every snapshot of this wondrous cat is worthy of its own Michelangelo. If the breed existed in antiquity we’ve no doubt its likeness would be rendered in marble and gold flake, guarding the tombs of pharaohs and emperors alike.

Dragons and other mythical creatures would become redundant, for how can something as limited as human imagination improve on peak magnificence?

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The breed in its native habitat, where it reigns as the apex predator.

Where did the breed originate?

Unlike lesser designer cats, the Buddinese owes its existence to a singular breeder: Mother Nature. It’s said these magnificent cats are native to Buddesia, a jungle region of New York rich with fauna and flora.

Buddesia is so idyllic that Buddinese have no problem adjusting to human homes: After all, what is Buddesia if not one large, comfortable living room?

The envy of every other cat enthusiast

There’s more to a Buddinese than dashing good looks, fur that feels like Egyptian cotton and unequaled intelligence. To have a Buddinese is to have a felid who will win every cat fancy event.

Your friends think they’re special because they’ve got Persians or Siamese? That’s cute. You’ll be able to smell their jealousy as they look upon your Buddinese, wondering how they can acquire one. They can’t.

Would you like to see your cat featured in Amazing Cat Breeds™? Drop us a line in the comments with a photo of your stunning feline and a short description outlining why it’s awesome.

 

‘The Beast of Billionaire’s Row’: Wealthy Londoners Have Little Patience For Abandoned Cat

The saga continues in the case of the big Savannah who was mistaken for a leopard or cheetah in London earlier this week.

The hybrid cat — whose appearance prompted a massive police response that included helicopters and heavily armed squads — has been stalking the gardens of an opulent London burb for months, neighbors claim.

The British press dubbed the Savannah “The Beast of Billionaire’s Row” after it popped into a back garden in the upscale neighborhood of Hampstead on Monday, scaring a mom and daughter who were eating dinner outside.

They called the police to report a large wildcat, and authorities responded in force before realizing the mysterious felid was a Savannah, a cross between a Serval and a domestic cat. A wildlife expert confirmed the cat wasn’t dangerous and police stood down, leaving the cat to its own devices.

And that’s exactly the problem, homeowners in the neighborhood told UK newspapers: They say the rare feline has been wandering the area for eight months, and believe it was abandoned by its owner or escaped from its home.

“Anyone saying it’s a recent escape is talking absolute rubbish,” said Kate Blackmore of Highgate, an adjacent neighborhood less than a mile from Monday’s sighting.

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The cat was scared during an encounter with a woman in her backyard. Credit: Kate Blackmore

Blackmore told the Daily Mail she’s seen the cat in her yard 10 times over the months, and shot video of the hybrid in September when it crossed her yard.

“Look at you, you’re massive. Wow! Where do you come from?” Blackmore says in the video. “What’s with the growling, mate?”

The cat looks underfed and scared, making unmistakably nervous noises as the camera rolls. At one point Blackmore raises her voice and the cat flashes its teeth in response, hissing anxiously.

Blackmore told the Daily Mail she thinks the large hybrid may have chased one of her cats, who turned up dead in a nearby road last year, but admits it’s speculation. That hasn’t stopped the Mail from reporting the Savannah “has savaged a kitten” with nothing but Blackmore’s word to go on.

Blackmore told the Daily Mail she’s “really passionate about rehoming this cat,” which contradicts statements she gave to the Sun and other newspapers, in which she seems determined to blame the scared ex-pet. She’s the sole source for several irresponsibly speculative articles claiming the Savannah has been eating pets in the neighborhood.

“We have had ten visits from the Savannah. It scared one kitten away and eight weeks later it was found dead,” Karen Kate Blackmore told the Sun. “So you can understand my rage towards the cat — it could be killing other people’s pets.”

Blackmore’s crusade against the Savannah seems especially odd considering she has two Bengal cats, which are also hybrids. Bengals are a mix of domestic felines and Asian leopard cats(*). Like Savannahs they’re sold for thousands of dollars, valued for the wild-looking rosettes on their coats, and can wreak havoc if they’re not provided with enough attention and stimulation.

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Kate Blackmore with one of her Bengal cats.

 

 

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The Savannah at a local park, where it cozied up to a family. Credit: Laura Rosefield.

Other neighbors say they’ve encountered the animal and haven’t seen any signs of aggression. Laura Rosefield, who lives nearby, told the Sun she interacted with the cat in a neighborhood park, calling it “very tame.”

“I suddenly went ‘Oh my god what is that?’ and we saw the cat and said ‘It’s a leopard, it’s a mini leopard,’” Rosefield said.

She said the “shockingly beautiful” hybrid even sat with her family and was comfortable around people.

“We were ohh-ing and ahh-ing, and it padded around us for quite a long time, it padded over my foot for quite a long time,” she said. “My partner stroked it and it purred along while he was stroking it.”

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Credit: Laura Rosefield

Looking at the cat’s condition and body language in the video, it doesn’t seem like a well-loved pet out for a fun stroll near its home — it looks like a sad, confused and abandoned former pet.

Savannah cats retain the energy and intelligence of their wild cousins and are similar to working dogs in that they need near-constant stimulation and socialization. If their needs aren’t met they can become bored, destructive and could escape to make their own adventures.

First-generation hybrids, known as F1 Savannahs, are considered too wild to be kept as pets and are used as breeders. Typically pet Savannahs are third- or fourth-generation (F3 or F4), retaining the rosette-and-dot coat pattern of their wild forebears and most of their size, but with dispositions more like typical house cats.

The animals can fetch up to $20,000 in the US, with F1s commanding the highest prices. Unlike the US, where many caretakers keep their cats indoors for their safety, it’s common for owners in the UK to allow their cats to wander outside.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post misstated the origins of the Bengal breed. Bengals are hybrids of the domestic cat, felis catus, and the Asian leopard cat, Prionailurus bengalensis. Thanks to reader M.A. for pointing out the error.