Following are the latest reports submitted to me by fellow Texans who claim to have encountered large, black, long-tailed cats matching the classic description of a “black panther.” As I have stated here numerous times, there is not supposed to be any such animal. Despite this fact, Texans, and other people across the American South, continue to report sightings of these enigmatic felines.
Before we go any farther, numerous people have posted comments to previous posts on this topic claiming to have photos of these mystery cats. It is true that photos cannot be attached to comments; however, pictures can be emailed directly to me at Texascryptidhunter@yahoo.com. This email address can also be found in the right margin of the blog site. PLEASE, if you have photos or videos, attach them to an email and send them to this address. If you are leaving a comment on another post and would like for me to contact you directly, contact information will have to be included in the comment you leave, as I cannot respond directly to said comments.
Now, on to the reports…
“I hope this goes through.
My sighting was at 10:45 PM on the 22nd of September outside of Boerne at White Oak Trail Road.. It was less than 20 yards in front of my car. My late model Mercedes has Halogen lights, it turned the driveway from night to day where in front of me was, what I believe now to be a Black Jaguar just walking up the driveway toward the house. Total sighting time was 3.5-4 seconds. It was at least 29 inches high, the girth was at least 12-14 inches across the back between the hind end. The cat turned slightly right about 10-15 degrees, never saw the head but estimated its length a good 4.5-5+ feet long not including its very bushy tail end about 3.5+ feet long turned up at the end about 5-7 inches above the ground. I estimated the weight to be 120-150 lbs but thinking back it may be larger.
The lady down the road reported the same sighting and size. She was about 200' from the animal and it was just dusk outside her electric fence. The sighting about three years ago about dusk a couple spotted the same size animal eating a deer kill on the side of the stream they were canoeing in. I called in my sighting to the Texas Parks & Wildlife, Katherin McCoy. She asked me to have the other person contact her, which the lady did. She has golden retrievers. Her male is 24 inches tall and her description to me was that the black cat was much larger and longer.
Since there were no photos the TPWD pretty much was surprised with the sightings and have recorded the eyewitness accounts. It’s been many decades since the last sightings in this general area and I'm sure the TPWD is skeptical.”
- Gary Fi
TCH Comment: This is an interesting report. I did do some digging and there is a TPWD employee named Katherin McCoy in the area of the alleged sighting. I am in the process of trying to contact her now.
The size of the cat described is really big. Jaguars, of course, can reach the size of the cat reported; though, jags this size are usually found more in Central and South America while the Mexican jaguars tend to be smaller in size.
Boerne is the county seat of Kendall County in South-Central Texas. It is an area where mountain lion sightings drift in from time to time. The Guadalupe River flows toward the Gulf of Mexico just to the north of town and could provide food, water and cover enough for, if nothing else, a transient cat. There have been at least four credible black panther reports from the area surrounding Boerne. While I feel it is possible the witness might have overestimated the size of the cat – though, maybe not – he did supply his real name, the name of the TPWD employee to whom the sighting was reported and other details that hoaxers, generally, do not. I will be adding the sighting to my distribution map for the time being. If Ms. McCoy gets back to me and disputes the claims of the witness, I will reconsider.
“This morning at around 5:15am in Round Rock, Tx, my husband was walking our dog and spotted a large sleek black cat weighing around 50 lbs. Later that day a neighbor reported that an owl was found injured outside of his apartment. We live in the La Frontera section of Round Rock.”
- Donna J******
TCH Comment: At first glance, the location of this alleged sighting would seem an unlikely spot to see any type of large wildlife. The greater Austin area, however, is unlike almost anywhere else I have ever been. There remain large green areas and riparian corridors that intermingle with suburbia. Deer and hogs are a continual presence in the area of the sighting location. The Colorado River winds through the area only 10-12 miles to the S-SW, Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Preserve is less than 20 miles to the west. This area is heavily populated along the I-35 corridor but gets lonesome pretty quickly to the west. Having said all of that, I think it is very possible this lady’s husband saw an extremely large domestic/feral. I could very well be wrong, of course, but feel this is the most likely scenario for this specific heavily populated area. As for the injured owl, a domestic/feral could very well be the culprit and I cannot automatically assume these two separate events are related. I will not be placing this report on my distribution map for those reasons.
“Just this afternoon (9/4/16) at about 3:30, a large black cat crossed the road in front of me. This occurred on LCR 377 at Lake Mexia where the road crosses over Cedar Creek. It was larger than my 55-pound dog but very thin, black, with a very long tail. If it had not been pure black and so thin, I would have thought it was a cougar so my gut reaction was 'black panther'. I was driving slowly already when I came around the curve right before the bridge. The cat was crossing slowly as well and looked up at me. I could not see its features, however, the shape of its head was unmistakably cat like. I googled black cats of Texas and did look at pictures of jaguarundis. While the body and tail shapes were very similar, the head was not and this cat seemed to be much larger. I had always heard these black cats had roamed this area long ago as well as rumors of sightings in the recent past. Very exciting to now be a part of the gang!”
TCH Comment: Mexia is a small town in Limestone County. It sits right in the area where what is considered Central Texas begins to give way to the region considered to be East Texas. The area is very rural and sparsely populated. As of the 2010 census, only 7,459 people lived in Mexia. As a matter of fact, less than 25,000 people live in all of Limestone County. There is an ample prey base of deer, feral hogs and smaller mammals, plenty of water and cover in the area. Numerous reports of large cats have come from this vicinity. I find the report credible and will be adding the sighting to my distribution map. I feel strongly that Limestone County may one day prove to be the area that yields proof of the existence of large, black, long-tailed cats in Texas. One last interesting side note, Mexia High School’s mascot is “black cats.” Coincidence?
“I live in east Montgomery County, TX. I have 5 acres and it's pretty wooded all around us. Several nights now I have seen a large animal (cat like) but I don't see its face. I found a paw print that scared me. I'm not sure what to do. I have ducks, dogs a cat and horse outside plus I'm a mother of 5 small children.”
- Julianne H*******
TCH Comment: Montgomery County sites in SE Texas and contains a large part of the Sam Houston National Forest. The area has been the source of more than one anomalous big cat report in the past. I know there are big cats in the area as I have personally seen a mountain lion (tawny-colored) near the Stubblefield area. Julianne did not send any photos of the tracks she found so it is impossible to say if they are the tracks of a big cat. I am quite curious to know if the sightings have continued. Julianne, if you see this, please email me at Texascryptidhunter@yahoo.com and let me know if you would be interested in having a couple of game cameras posted on your property. I do not feel you should be too concerned about your children’s safety. Just supervise your kids as you normally would and all should be fine. If the animal was going to be aggressive toward you or your family, chances are, you would know it by now. For the time being, I am going to leave this sighting off my distribution map. This is not because I do not believe Julianne; rather, it is due to the simple fact that her description is pretty short on details. “Cat-like” is pretty vague. I would like to hear more about estimated size, weight, appearance, length of tail, etc. before adding it to the map.
“I would have never thought to report big cat sightings. In the late 1970's we lived on our farm in Shelby County near Tenaha and Flat Fork Creek. We had what was referred to as a black panther. It had a routine of coming through our property about every 6 weeks. We heard it screaming when it was in our area. I am again living on property in Shelby County near Tenaha. Hilliard Creek runs through my property leading to Flat Fork Creek. Two years ago I saw a large black cat with a long tail on Easter morning twice. I have seen a bobcat with babies in my area before. This was definitely larger. I have a neighbor that reports seeing a large black cat (panther) and a tawny mountain lion on his properly on the same day. So any.idea what it is that we call a black panther.”
- Martha B*******-*****
TCH Comment: Martha’s point of view – that large, black, long-tailed cats are nothing overly unusual – is one shared by many people living in East Texas. They are simply considered another animal that lives in the woods and bottoms. While not common, they are not thought of as unusual either. Her comments on hearing a big cat scream is a common refrain as well. It is true that many people misidentify “screams” in the woods. More often than not, it is probably a fox that is heard (they can make a terrible racket). Having said that, I cannot discount Martha’s account as the auditory report is backed up by two visuals. Clearly, Martha knows what a bobcat looks like and seems sure that is not what she saw on that Easter Sunday. Shelby County sits in deep East Texas and has yielded multiple reports of “black panthers” over the years as well as one very intriguing photo of an unusually dark cougar stalking a deer at a feeder. As for the questions, “Any idea what it is we call a black panther?” That is the million dollar question isn’t it? I am doing my best to find out. I will be adding this account to my distribution map.
“I bought ~31 acres almost 2 years ago, 4 miles east of Ben Wheeler TX., 3.5 miles west of Edom on Hwy 279. Early on, I heard the cat's screams at night that sounded like a child or woman crying. I found paw prints (attaching) and started asking neighbors about it. There is a history of locals seeing a large black cat near this property. Nobody has lived on this property in 30-40 years, I am told.
I started walking the property to get it fenced & cross fenced once the screaming stopped. Presuming the cat had left the area. One of the men I was dealing & I went down in a gorge and found the den. He said he thought it was active. He's in the pic & stands over 6' tall. The den opening is about 4'x4'... It has its own pond near the den. It's a very dense wooded area - a gorge - when you climb the hill, it comes out to either a front open area of my land beside the other neighbor’s house or behind his house which opens to a big field. Lots of woods to east of it.
My neighbors across the road said they saw a large black animal moving across the field like a cat moves (forgot to ask about the tail) ... They insisted it moved like a large cat, not at all like a dog & then disappeared into my woods at the same point that I found the den.
About 6 weeks ago, I was thinking of putting in one more cross fence to the NE of that pond... Walked with a fencer through area & found a flutter of what looked like chicken feathers on ground.... So I figured it was back. About 3 weeks ago was brush hogging front area near back of neighbor’s house just over the "ridge" of that gorge... Felt like I was being watched & looked up into trees & saw a large black animal & it immediately leaped like a cat down into the gorge right where the den is.
I'd like the thing caught & taken to a zoo or refuge... Far better than having to shoot it if it starts attacking baby calves or my dogs... I’m not crazy about going back in there to set up a game camera since seeing it as I live alone with my dogs... & can't safely watch for it with a gun & hang a camera up at same time. I'm going to try to set one up near top of ridge but it'd be better to set in the gorge to see what we are dealing with. It's definitely a large black cat.
Any suggestions on any group that could assist?”
- Karen R*****
TCH Comment: This is an intriguing report and one that I am interested in investigating further. Karen is sure that what she saw was a cat of some kind. The fact that the property was uninhabited for 30-40 years adds to the intrigue. It is very possible that wildlife has become very comfortable there due to the lack of any human presence. Ben Wheeler sits in Van Zandt County in East Texas just SE of Canton. The area has yielded big cat sightings before. Karen, if you see this, please email me at Texascryptidhunter@yahoo.com and let me know if you would be open to my visiting the property and posting a couple of cameras. I will be adding this sighting to my distribution map.
“I live in River Oaks, Texas. Zip code 76114. The Trinity River runs directly beside my next door neighbor’s house. There is a small amount of woods between their house and the Trinity River. A couple of weeks ago they had a large black cat the size of a large dog that was posted up on their back porch watching their house cats and their daughter through the back sliding glass door on their house. They said it stayed there for a couple of hours. They are afraid to come out of their house.”
TCH Comment: This is a very interesting report and the behavior described has been seen before. River Oaks sits in Tarrant County just NW of Fort Worth. Lake Worth, where all sorts of weird things have been reported, sits just to the west. The area gets pretty rural and lonesome pretty fast just west of River Oaks. I am sure many of you have seen photos and videos on the internet of a mountain lion sitting on a deck or porch and looking into a home, usually at a pet, through a glass door. The length of time the cat stayed around seems like a long time but I have never been in that situation before so I cannot say that with any degree of certainty. What I do feel strongly about is that if the cat did hang around on the porch that long, someone would have taken a photograph. Based on the fact that this is a second hand account and that no photo was provided, I will be leaving the report off my distribution map. If the actual family that witnessed the cat on their porch or a photo is produced, I will reconsider the status of the report.
Reports of these large, black, long-tailed cats continue to flow in to my inbox on a weekly basis. I strongly believe that people are seeing a living animal. Please continue to forward reports of sightings to me at Texascryptidhunter@yahoo.com. You never know, yours might be the report that breaks this mystery wide open.
*If you would care to peruse the interactive black panther sighting distribution map, click here. Once you can view the map, click on individual pins to read a brief synopsis of what was reported at the location.