The Mysterious Black Long-Tailed TX Cat

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My heart pounded as I saw the silhouette of a black cat move through the tall grass.

Headed toward a clearing on the edge of a bayou it would be only seconds before it stepped into the open.

The fact I was on an expedition to investigate “black panther” sightings in the area added to the excitement.

What was I about to see?

As its head peeked out of the grass at a distance of about 70 yards I thought it might be a jaguarundi,.

When the entire body came out, it was obvious that was not the case.

jaguarundi
The cat the author saw was not a jaguarundi (pictured here’d) but something similar in size.

I estimated this cat to be around 42-45 inches in length, stocky, with a tail longer than the body and sporting a solid, dark coat.

The cat quickly shot into a thin line of cattail that intersected a marsh and I never saw it again.

This was fall of 2007 and I knew I had not seen a jaguarundi or a jaguar or a black cougar. It was a domestic cat or some kind of hybrid and it was bigger than normal. And somehow I knew that when an untrained eye saw this cat -“black panther- would get bestowed upon it quickly.

About two years after that as game camera prices plummeted and smart phones began featuring quality cameras I started getting many cat photos sent by readers. Most of them inquired whether the cat they captured an image of was a “black panther”. A couple asked if it might be a jaguarundi.

All but two of them have been some kind of feral house cat.

And I believe they are the source of the vast majority of “black panther” sightings.

I believe this for three key reasons.

  1. People Cannot Judge Size: I have received dozens of photos of bobcats people sent to me insisting they were cougars. I have now come to the conclusion many cougar sightings in nontraditional habitat are bobcats. I have personally identified dozens of “black panther” sightings as house cats or some kind of hybrid. (We’ll get to that in a minute)
  2. Distribution: Feral house cats are distributed throughout North America, have large populations in many forested areas and are the only known black cat to dwell continent-wide. I have received multiple photos of readers wondering what kind of wild cat they captured on their game camera. It turned out they were white, tabby and other colored feral house cats. People are not prepared to see a feral cat in the woods but they are abundant. When they see a black one they often label it “panther”.
  3. New research in Australia which has a massive feral cat problem suggests these cats are growing to much bigger sizes than anyone would expect. Recent states attributed to Oklahoma wildlife officials state sizes of up to 35 pounds for feral cats.

black longtail.jpg

The photo above was submitted by a landowner who wishes to remain anonymous.

As you can see it features a large black cat with a long tail. The cat has a build somewhat like a domestic cat but it has a very long tail and judging by the size of the cinder blocks it is larger than the average house cat.

In my book Field Guide to Mystery Cats of Texas, I have officially dubbed these “Black Longtails”.

Texas-based researcher Jeff Stewart who captured a similar cat on a game camera in Panola County has an interesting theory.

“One theory I have been working on to explain the sightings of large black cats in the South is that interbreeding could happen between a large cat with no black gene (like a cougar) and another which has the gene then the offspring have the ability to be black or even produce black kittens themselves,” Stewart said.

382337_3793092486077_470010339_n
The Jeff Stewart black cat photo.

Hybridization is rampant in cats and stranger things have happened in nature.

These black longtails could simply be feral domestic house cats that are adapting to a wild life. Or maybe there has been some sort of hybridization going on that science has not discovered.

Feral house cats are the key to understanding the bulk of the black panther phenomenon in America.

My research has shown me jaguarundis play a part in this as well and there is a slight chance of melanistic jaguars and bobcats in the mix. We can scratch black cougars off the list as there is no evidence they exist.

The corporate wildlife media have perpetuated the black panther hoax for ratings and web traffic and most amateur researchers including myself have overlooked the obvious as a solution because so many credible witnesses have great panther stories.

On this end the research will continue in the field and by communicating with people throughout the country who hunt, fish, ranch, farm and spend time in nature.

The black longtail is out there and whether is an evolving house cat or something else it is a mystery worth pursuing despite its obviously domestic roots. If you have any photos or videos of these cats email [email protected].

Chester Moore, Jr.

5 Comments

  1. Sean says:

    Agreed pretty much unanimously. Size perception & color shade/shadow in low light and through scopes/binocs/cameras, are always the culprits in the stories. And where I disagree with only 1 thing in the article… the photo in the story with the cat on the cinder blocks is clearly & simply a domestic cat. From a very well trained & educated eye – its size doesnt even appear “large” or above average in my opinion. CMU blocks are 8″T x 8″W x 16″L. Nothing in this photo, especially with the cat being in the foreground of the blocks, indicates it is larger than normal. Not to say there arent exceptions out there, so I’ll never say never. 🙂

  2. Sean says:

    Agreed pretty much unanimously. Size perception & color shade/shadow in low light and through scopes/binocs/cameras, are always the culprits in the stories. And where I disagree with only 1 thing in the article… the photo in the story with the cat on the cinder blocks is clearly & simply a domestic cat. From a very well trained & educated eye – its size doesnt even appear “large” or above average in my opinion. CMU blocks are 8″T x 8″W x 16″L. Nothing in this photo, especially with the cat being in the foreground of the blocks, indicates it is larger than normal. Not to say there arent exceptions out there, so I’ll never say never. 🙂

  3. Chick says:

    It is a feral cat. I had a friend on Bob Hall Rd, insist there was a panther coming up behind her house. I put a trail cam out and captured a picture of a bobcat. The friend squealed with delight, “There’s my kitty!”. Some people just do not know what a cougar is, or a panther, either. I lease over 6000 acres of timberlands for a hunting club, that I run. Numerous members come in with a report of seeing a cougar. Some describe a long brown cat, 8 ft from tip of nose to tip of tail. On this lease, at any point of time, there might be over 100 trail cams in use, and not once have we captured a picture of a cougar. Lots of bobcats, though. A couple of years ago, there was pictures published of a cougar in the middle of Hemphill, in broad daylight. A couple years prior to that, a woman in the Newton area, fought off a cougar that was attacking a colt. Both sides of the hindquarters had long wide and deep scratches, such as a cougar would inflict. Over 25 years ago, a cougar weighing 125 lbs was taken in Cherokee county (NE Texas). A few years after that, I helped a friend find a deer he had shot that afternoon. I found it drug up under a mat of dewberry vines. 1 shoulder and 1 hindquarter had been ate on, before the deer was covered with pine needles, and left. Couger or coyote? I think it was a cougar, because coyotes are more vicious and unrelenting in their dining, and not apt to leave that much meat. There are cougars around, but they can have a range of over 100 miles. In my 61 years, I have only seen one, and it was at 20 ft.

  4. Chick says:

    It is a feral cat. I had a friend on Bob Hall Rd, insist there was a panther coming up behind her house. I put a trail cam out and captured a picture of a bobcat. The friend squealed with delight, “There’s my kitty!”. Some people just do not know what a cougar is, or a panther, either. I lease over 6000 acres of timberlands for a hunting club, that I run. Numerous members come in with a report of seeing a cougar. Some describe a long brown cat, 8 ft from tip of nose to tip of tail. On this lease, at any point of time, there might be over 100 trail cams in use, and not once have we captured a picture of a cougar. Lots of bobcats, though. A couple of years ago, there was pictures published of a cougar in the middle of Hemphill, in broad daylight. A couple years prior to that, a woman in the Newton area, fought off a cougar that was attacking a colt. Both sides of the hindquarters had long wide and deep scratches, such as a cougar would inflict. Over 25 years ago, a cougar weighing 125 lbs was taken in Cherokee county (NE Texas). A few years after that, I helped a friend find a deer he had shot that afternoon. I found it drug up under a mat of dewberry vines. 1 shoulder and 1 hindquarter had been ate on, before the deer was covered with pine needles, and left. Couger or coyote? I think it was a cougar, because coyotes are more vicious and unrelenting in their dining, and not apt to leave that much meat. There are cougars around, but they can have a range of over 100 miles. In my 61 years, I have only seen one, and it was at 20 ft.

  5. Chick Collins says:

    It is a feral cat. I wish I had a nickle for every cat misidentified in Texas. A friend, living on Bob Hall Rd, said a cougar was coming up behind her house. I placed a trail cam behind her house. A few days later, viewing her card, a pic of a bobcat appeared, “There’s my kitty!”, she squealed. A bobcat. Some people, even those that should, do not know what a cougar, much less a panther, even looks like. I lease over 6000 acres of timberland in Deep East Texas, to run a hunting club on. Numerous members have com in with a report of a cougar sighting, describing a long brown cat, over 8 ft long. At any point in time, there might be over 100 trail cams in use, and never has a cougar picture been captured, nor have we ever found a track, which can be 5″ wide, or so. There are a few cougars in East Texas, though. I have seen one myself, at about 20 ft. A couple years ago, pictures were published of one in broad daylight, in the middle of Hemphill. Several years prior to that, a woman fought off a cougar, with a rake, after it attacked her colt. Both sides of the colt’s hindquarters had long, wide and deep scratches, such as a cougar would inflict. About 30 years ago, there was a cougar, that weighed 125 lbs, taken in Cherokee County. They are here, just few and far between, and can range over 100 miles. But, that black cat, in a feral house cat.

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