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Big Cat Sightings in Britain and Australia

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With interests in science and nature, the author explores topics from a unique and sometimes controversial perspective.

Do large, predatory cats stalk the UK, Australia, and other parts of the world?

Do large, predatory cats stalk the UK, Australia, and other parts of the world?

What Are Alien Big Cats?

Alien Big Cats, also known as Phantom Cats, are animals such as panthers, jaguars, and tigers found in habitats where they don't naturally live and should not exist. They are most closely associated with the UK and Britain, but these creatures have appeared in places like the United States, Australia, and Denmark.

Unlike any other predator, large cats bring out a primitive fear in humans. They take us back to a time when we were just as often prey as hunters, stalked silently from the grass by saber-toothed tigers and other prehistoric beasts.

Today, big cats are still fierce hunters that can easily take down game or livestock, and a human being is, of course, no match. So when they start showing up in places we don't expect to see them it can be a little alarming.

Alien cats get the blame for killing livestock and household pets, and the fear lingers that it won't be long until humans are on the menu. They're stealthy, like ghosts in the dark of the landscape, and Phantom Cat is the perfect nickname.

How do you stop a menace that exists in unknown numbers, and melts away as though it were never there? In the field of cryptozoology, alien big cats are among the few creatures where the danger is very real.

Where Did British Big Cats Come From?

Phantom cats have been spotted in Britain for decades, and many British citizens are quite convinced of their presence. However, the government remains skeptical and continues to deny their existence, at least publicly. Despite what the government may say, the numbers seem to make the case. A survey completed by the British Big Cat Society for the years 2004-2005 noted 2,123 sightings across Great Britain.

Many believe these animals are decedents of animals U.S. servicemen kept as mascots, which were set loose following the end of World War II.

Another theory is that they descended from captive animals let loose from menageries when the Dangerous Wild Animals Act came into effect in 1976.

However, neither of these ideas explain sightings occurring before World War II. Could there have been other incidents of visitors to Britain who brought large, dangerous animals with them?

We know the Romans had amphitheaters in Britain during their 1st-century A.D. occupation. There they staged gladiatorial fights and chariot races. They also included animals in their events, such as dangerous predatory cats.

Some researchers say these animals have been lurking in the British countryside since Roman times. No matter how they got there, many believe there is a breeding population of large, predatory cats in England and across Great Britain.

British Phantom Cats are usually black and believed to be panthers, jaguars, or leopards. All of these species have the potential to be black, though it is not very common. Possibly a small genetic pool has led to the population of black animals in Britain, or maybe they are something else entirely.

Big Cats in Australia

Phantom cats have been spotted in Australia for over 100 years. Interestingly, at least some leaders in Australia are taking the problem seriously. In 2003 the New South Wales government stated that it is “more likely than not” that there is a population of big cats existing near Sydney.

The US military is apparently to blame again, having brought them into the country during World War II. But here again, there are accounts dating back well before this time period.

Another theory says American gold miners may have brought them back in the 1850s.

Feral cats are a big problem in Australia, but cats neither big nor small are indigenous to the continent. However, Australia does have cat-like marsupials sometimes called Native Cats.

Is it possible that large cats in Australia could be a completely unknown species of giant marsupial, a product of convergent evolution where an animal similar to a predatory cat evolved in the outback?

Such a beast did in fact once wander the Australian countryside. Thylacoleo carnifex, the Marsupial Lion, was no lion at all, but a massive, carnivorous relative of kangaroos, wallabies, and wombats. It was about the size of a modern tiger, and experts say it may even have hidden its prey in trees like a leopard.

Science says it went extinct 46,000 years ago, but what are the chances at least some sightings in Australia are due to a remnant population of Marsupial Lions?

Is the Marsupial Lion Thylacoleo Carnifex responsible for sightings in Australia?

Is the Marsupial Lion Thylacoleo Carnifex responsible for sightings in Australia?

Sightings in the United States

People in the United States have been seeing big, black cats in states like North Carolina, Mississippi, Delaware, and even Hawaii. Here, too, many sightings are attributed to escaped animals, or those let loose by incompetent keepers.

But there are a few other interesting theories as well. One says that populations of Jaguars in South America and Mexico are making their way steadily northward. Black Jaguars, while uncommon, are possible in nature, and may account for sightings in the southern United States.

Another possibility exists to explain at least some of these sightings. The cougar, or mountain lion, once ranged throughout the US but hasn’t been acknowledged in the eastern States for almost a hundred years. Like many more dangerous species, the cougar was beaten back and hunted by settlers in an effort to make the land safe. For humans, anyway.

After decades of absence, the Eastern cougar was officially declared extinct by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 2011. Nevertheless, some believe Western cougar populations are making their way east, back to their original territory.

Others say the Eastern cougar still lives. Though not acknowledged by state game commissions, hunters and woodsmen have made unofficial sightings of cougars as far east as Pennsylvania, Virginia, and New England.

Could the cougar be an explanation for many big cat sightings in the Eastern US? Cougars aren't black, of course, but in the right lighting conditions, a terrified witness may not know the difference.

Do cougars account for Phantom Cat sightings in the US?

Do cougars account for Phantom Cat sightings in the US?

Strange Cats Spotted Around the World

Alien Big Cats have also been spotted in Denmark, the Netherlands, and New Zealand. We can only imagine how they may have gotten there and what they are up to.

They apparently roam freely in Great Britain, are making reappearances in the Eastern United States, and have the backing of the government in Australia. This ether proves that people have wild imaginations, or these predators are more stealthy and enduring than anyone imagined.

Or, it proves there are unknown species out there yet to be discovered. While this would be amazing, certainly it would make things a little uncomfortable for those living within the home range of this creature.

An undocumented species of large cat discovered anywhere in the world would surely make headlines. Almost as interesting is the idea that an already-known species may have established a foothold far from its original domain. It happens with smaller animals, which move to new territories to become invasive species.

Why not big cats?

Alien Big Cat Sightings


Jack Howard from England on May 20, 2020:

Love the article man, it really does make you think about what could actually be out ther.

Petra the puss on January 05, 2014:

There is valid speculation that an unclassified species of the cat family exists in Britain.

dani on August 05, 2013:

Meh. Living in Western Canada, specifically on an island where the cougar population is supposedly densest per square kilometre, I'm already used to big cats. It'd be nice to at least have a variety.

Ken stanaford on December 20, 2012:

I guess some sightings are absolutely some released or escaped pets however, I will never believe the two animals I saw were ever domestic animals. The actions of an animal that has been acclimated to human interactions is much different as one that has not. I believe these two animals have been used to staying clear of us if at all possible and gotten quite good at it. I can't speak intelligently about all the animals origins but I feel confident that the few I've come in contact with were 100% of wild decent. I'm just happy we have a few left and or coming our way. Enjoyed the great articles as usual, thanks for your forums and time.

cryptid (author) from USA on August 17, 2012:

Anonymous: You are correct of course, but really "phantom" cats are species you wouldn't expect to find in a certain location. For example, you wouldn't expect to find a black jaguar in England, or a tiger in the United States.

anonomous on August 17, 2012:

Big cats used to roam free here in the U.S.A for hundreds of years and black jaguars have lived in the south U.S. forever. They're not alien cats or phantom cats they have lived in these places all over the world for as long as the 7 continents have been apart.

cryptid (author) from USA on May 25, 2012:

Thanks Diana. Good to hear from someone who has spotted a cougar in the east! Good to hear too that the game commission is finally wising up.

Diana L Pierce from Potter County, Pa. on May 24, 2012:

I saw a cougar a few years ago crossing the road in front of me, it was near dusk, but there is nothing else that would even look anything like this did. The game commission now agree they are here, but they think they are of domestic origin and not a wild generated species. But at least they acknowledge their present. Good topic.

cryptid (author) from USA on May 18, 2012:

I believe what you're saying CR. In the east, the big argument is whether or not pumas are still around. The game commissions deny it, but many hunters swear they have seen them.

Pamela Hutson from Moonlight Maine on May 18, 2012:

I've never seen a big cat, but once, a couple of years ago, I wrote an article about how there are NO black panthers in Michigan, not possible, no way, and I could not believe the response. People were ready to string me up over it, I sh*t you not. So whatever these are, when people see them, it makes a huge, unforgettable impression.