Wednesday, January 31, 2018

New Book Released

I am pleased to announce that my new book on the black panther phenomenon has been released and is now available for purchase. The book is titled Shadow Cats: The Black Panthers of North America and is published by Anomalist Books. It is available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other sites where books are sold.

For those interested here is a link to the book on Amazon:

Here is a look at the cover...

If you are so inclined, I would appreciate your picking up a copy. 

Many thanks.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Central Texas Speaking Engagement

I will be speaking at the Friends of the Lena Armstrong Public Library Book and Author Luncheon on February 24 in Belton, Texas. I will be talking about "Patty" and my soon to be released non-fiction title "Shadow Cats: The Black Panthers of North America." If you are in Central Texas that Saturday consider dropping by. I'd love to visit with you. 
- Michael Mayes

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Back in Black (Panthers)

Once again I find myself in the position of feeling like I need to apologize for my lengthy absence from the blog. I have been in the final stages of finishing up my upcoming book on the black panther phenomenon and it has been a bit time consuming. The whole process has been fascinating and enjoyable but the book process has consumed almost all of my free time for the past year. Finally, I am done and the book is tentatively due to be out by the end of January. The book is called Shadow Cats: The Black Panthers of North America. I must admit that I am pretty excited about it.

It should be noted that reports of black panthers never stopped rolling in to me; I just had precious little extra time to post or chart them. I aim to begin the process of rectifying that situation now. Below are some of the latest black panther sighting reports to be sent my way. As always, I need to clarify that science does not recognize the existence of such a cat. The black panthers in the movies and on television are almost all melanistic leopards with a few melanistic jaguars thrown in for good measure. The term black panther is a descriptor used by Texans and southerners to describe any large, black, long-tailed cat, whatever they may be. Now on to the reports.

Reported 10/22/17

“Rhome, TX 10/20/2017
I was driving on FM 3433 towards 287 and a large cat ran across the road about 100 yards in front of me. What caught my attention was the huge 3-4 foot long tail, about 6” in diameter. He was brown/black spotted weighing about 150-175 pounds. It was too far away for my dashcam to get a clear picture. It just looks like a large shadow crossing the road. Freaked me out so I called the Rhome police. They told me I saw a bobcat. I explained the long tail. He said he would check it out. I called the big cat sanctuary to see if one of their cats was out. He told me I saw a feral cat. Then I called Wise County game warden and he totally blew me off. Said I saw a bobcat and if there really was a big cat out there like that he would have heard reports about it.
I’m so glad to hear other reports out there. I know what I saw was no bobcat or feral cat. It had markings like a cloud leopard.”

- Anonymous

TCH Comment: Rhome sits in Wise County northwest of Fort Worth. The sighting location was just to the northeast of Eagle Mountain Lake, an 8,694 acre reservoir formed by the damming of the west fork of the Trinity River. While the area is situated very close to the Fort Worth area there remains quite a bit of open farmland and undeveloped property, especially back to the west of Rhome. Besides the previously mentioned Eagle Mountain Lake, Elizabeth Creek and multiple smaller private lakes and stock ponds can be found in the area. While this event occurred a bit closer to urban areas than most sightings do, it should not be discounted on that basis alone. The description of the cat as looking like a “cloud leopard” is interesting. I can understand why officials might have believed the witness saw a bobcat as they can exhibit markings similar to those of clouded leopards; however, if the witness is correct about the long tail, the bobcat must be eliminated as a possibility. The witness mentions that he called a “big cat sanctuary” to see if they were missing any big cats. While I’m not sure a facility would share information of that nature with a civilian, there are two such sanctuary/rescues in the area: the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Boyd and the Center for Animal Research and Education in Bridgeport. I do not know if either facility houses a clouded leopard or a snow leopard but I suppose it is not out of the realm of possibility that an escaped exotic from such a facility, or a private owner, could be responsible. I simply do not know quite what to think about this sighting. In any case, it does not fit the criteria to be placed on my Black Panther Sightings Distribution map so I will just keep my ears open for any additional sightings of cats that match this description.

Reported 10/26/17

I found your website after doing some research.  This morning as I was leaving for work I spotted a large black cat along my back fence.  I live on a little more than an acre that backs up to a ranch.  There is also a creek nearby and plenty of brush.  I don’t know much about wildlife so I reached out to some neighbors.  Bobcat came up a couple of times and neighbor mentioned something called a jaguarundi.  (Probably didn’t spell that right.) I am attaching a picture that is NOT my own but is the closest thing I can find to what I saw.  It’s pretty much dead on identical except mine was ever so slightly smaller. (I’m assuming scale by saying that.)  It was “slinky” for lack of a better word but muscled and if it wasn’t jet black (which I couldn’t tell from 100 yards away) then it was very black with spots or stripes that I couldn’t see.  It had a long tale and moved very slowly.  Any further thoughts on what this might be?  I have small dogs and worry about them being outside.  Also, do you think these animals are solo or roam in packs?”

- Beth Milam

TCH Comment: This sighting occurred in the Brazos Valley near the College Station area. The Brazos Valley has been the origin of a good number of black panther reports. The photo which the witness refers to as a comparison is a still taken from a video shot in Iberia Parish, Louisiana several years ago (This incident and photo are featured in my upcoming book: Shadow Cats, The Black Panthers of North America). The witness does not give an exact location for the sighting so I cannot map it. Neither does she mention a size estimate other than calling the cat “large.” While a jaguarundi is a possibility, the fact the witness was able to clearly see the cat at an approximate distance of 100 yards leads me to believe that the animal seen was larger than that species typically gets. Beth, if you see this post, please contact me with a little more detail as to the location as I would like to include the sighting on my sightings distribution map. Finally, to answer the final question of the witness, typically jaguars or cougars (if either species is what this cat indeed was) do not run together in groups. There have been a few documented cases of groups of mountain lions running together but this is rare. When this occurs it is almost certainly a nearly grown cub still traveling with its mother. In extremely rare instances, “cubs” up to two years-old hang around long enough to be seen with their mother and a very young cub from a more recent litter. Again, this is not common.

Reported 11/2/17

“Tuesday late afternoon, about 5:30 pm my daughter was hiking along the northern and eastern Wperimeter of our farm laced with pecan orchards and groves , the older groves being almost 90 years old trees. there is an abundance of hardwood forests and black locust thickets where deer and other wildlife abound and our herd of Arabians . She was hiking down to check the wild hog trap and see deer. Our 300 acres is a pie shaped wedge that’s bounded along the entire southern end by the Sabine in Hunt County . She was heading south along the eastern border (another river borders it on the east , a creek) and she heard an odd sound , thinking it was wild hogs, she turned around and saw a large black cat , larger than our Anatolian Shepherd dog with a long black tail. She said she froze and it was about 8 feet up the tree , climbing up . it stopped climbing and began to climb down and about half way down bounded the rest of the way off the tree , heading southeast to the river , about 60 yards away. My daughter is reliable, has excellent vision, calm and gives accurate honest reports. I went today and inspected the tree. there was, as she reported fresh bark off the tree about the distance one would expect between claws. I could only surmise it was looking for deer, in an area with lots, and also perhaps clawing on the tree , as cats sharpening their claws do , She said this is the sound she heard and it appeared to be doing this as she quietly turned around to look at the sound . she very first thought, seeing black, of a large size half way up a tree, that this might be one of the black bears occasionally sighted in the piney woods, but then she saw its tail and the entire cat as it climbed down and bounded off.

15 or 16 years ago, My brother who is an archery hunter of moose, elk, bear and white tail here saw a big black cat. Enormous , he said, cross our county road as he was driving around 11 pm at night. He is extremely reliable and is as close as a modern day Daniel Boone as one gets. A shame it was so fast as he is a remarkable wildlife photographer.

We are surrounded by 500 acres to 800 acre wild tracts of land along the Sabine in east Hunt County - replete with wildlife 4 of us have sighted mountain lions in the past 5 years, all tawny on our land or the neighbors adjoining. this one was huge and black. Our Anatolian is about 3.3 feet at the shoulder and 4.5 foot head to rump 85 to 95 pounds. slim. The cat she said seemed heavier built and maybe a bit longer when it jumped than our dog.

We’d love to set up a live trap and get some good pictures. Please reach out and bring your game camera ... maybe we can get a goat to use (not to kill, just to be in the trap ) for photos.”

- Kkamomma1

TCH Comment: Hunt County is located in northeast Texas in an area rich in water and food resources. While part of the Piney Woods sub-region of Texas, fruit-bearing hardwood trees thrive here as well, meaning a prey base of deer and hogs would do quite well. It is an area with a history of black panther sightings. Kkamomma1, I would like to discuss the possibility of putting up a game camera or two on the property. Please contact me at if you are still interested. If the estimate of size given by the witness is correct, the cat in question would have to be a cougar or jaguar. No other New World cat approaches the size described. I will be adding the sighting to my sightings distribution map.

Reported 11/7/17


I just listened to your interview on Inception Radio and that to share my experience.

Mid to late 1980’s, I was on a deer stand looking down a ravine on a cutover.  I heard the dogs start on a chase and prepared for the deer that I heard coming up the hill.  What I saw, numbed me momentarily, 30 feet away, a huge solid black cat bounded across my window of opportunity. Before my senses returned, he was gone.  I promptly reported to the next game warden i saw and he said impossible, we don’t have any such animals in Alabama.  I told him I should have dropped the cat, to which he said he would have arrested me.  Three other club members had seen the cat within a 3-4 year span. I along with a few more had seen a tan mountain lion over the years along the land bordering the Coosa River in Shelby County Alabama. 

Thanks for your work and hope the conservation people will finally admit to such cats.”

- Perry Edwards

TCH Comment: Perry, thank you for taking the time to send in your account. Black panther reports out of the Deep South are not uncommon and I detail many of them in my forthcoming book on the topic. Since the sighting took place outside of Texas I won’t be adding it to my sightings distribution map. Still, the sighting is anecdotal evidence that sighting of large, black, long-tailed cats is not strictly a Texas phenomenon.

Reported 11/7/17

“They say there's no such animal as a black panther because it is just a normal panther with a melanin disorder causing the fur to be darker, like a jaguar can be all black but it isn't a panther. Up north we call them mountain lions or cougar, but they can definitely have darker colors, the name black panther doesn't exist in the world of the big cat because it is just a black colored jaguar or cougar. But down south y'all call cougar panthers, so black panther. But it is more common for jaguar to be black, like I said it is a melanin disorder that causes the dark coloration but it is normal and entirely possible these sightings were jaguar and not panther.”

- Anonymous

TCH Comment: While this is not a sighting report the reader brings up a point I would like to address. I have said many times that science does not recognize the existence of “black panthers.” The term is a colloquialism used to describe any big, black cats with long tails here in Texas and the American South. No melanistic cougar has ever been officially documented. Jaguars do exhibit melanism on occasion. These are really the only two species of New World cat large enough to fit the description given by most witnesses who claim to have seen a black panther-sized cat.

Reported 11/7/17

“A black panther does not exist. What people of the South refer to as a panther is a cougar though cougar have many names, they are usually buff colored but a melanin disorder can cause darker fur. The black cat in the sightings is almost definitely a black jaguar, which are more common in central and South America, but the melanin disorder is most commonly found in jaguar. Which could be where the confusion is because yes they look like a "black panther" but scientifically, and as far as any official or zoologist is concerned, does not exist. Like I said, melanin disorder, dark coloring of the pelt, same breed though so it is just a normal panther/cougar or a jaguar.”

- Ashley Noonan

TCH Comment: I am guessing this comment and the one above it are both attributable to Ashley Noonan as they so closely mirror one another (maybe the first try did not seem to go through so Ashley tried again?). In any event, please see my reply to the previous post/comment.

Reported 11/14/17

“Kemp tx 11/11/2017 got a game camera picture on my ranch of a big black cat.”

- Lamar D. Garland

TCH Comment: Kemp sits in Kaufman County southeast of Dallas and not too far north of Cedar Creek Reservoir. It is in an area from which sightings have been reported before. Lamar, I would like to see that photo. If you are willing to share it with me, email it to I will hold off on adding this sighting to my distribution map until (if) I get a look at that photo.

Reported 11/15/17

“I live in Burnet County on 40 acres. Each neighbor on both sides have 50 acres but they live in town. My parents were driving down our 1/2 mile private road and saw a large black cat that looked at least 50 lbs. It jumped over our neighbor’s fence and stole something black from an eagle (his dinner). Then jumped back over the fence and was gone. I spoke to my other neighbor today, she said her neighbors have seen it too!!”

- Anonymous

TCH Comment: Burnet County sits in central Texas on the Edwards Plateau. It is in the region typically recognized as the beginning of the Texas Hill Country; a region rich in black panther reports. A 50 lb. cat is clearly larger than a jaguarundi but smaller than would be expected of a mountain lion. The witness does not mention whether or not a tail was visible. Bobcats can reach 50 lbs., though that is on the large size for the species, and exhibit melanism on occasion. Is it possible this is what the witness saw? Since the description lacks any information on a tail, for the moment, I will be leaving the sighting off my distribution map. I have no reason to believe the witness is not being truthful but would like to be reassured the cat seen did exhibit a long tail prior to charting the sighting.

Reported 11/16/17

“We just moved to the Crystal Cove community in Lake o the Pines in Jefferson TX. We have three dogs, an adult, an 11 months and 2 months old puppy. We have a fenced area for them. In the past couple of days the dogs seem afraid to be outside. I’m home all day and they’re very few people around. I feel I’m being watched when I’m outside. Any new sightings reported recently in this area? One neighbor is 100% sure we have panthers here.”

- Arlean

TCH Comment: Arlean, there are no fresh mountain lion or black panther sightings that I am aware of in your immediate area, but I have no doubt cougars are in those woods. Having said that, there are any number of reasons your dogs might be acting nervous. Bobcats, coyotes, and, according to some east Texas residents, wolves could be to blame. Depending on the size of your dogs, even a fox could be responsible. Just keep a close eye on those pups and all should be fine. You might consider investing in a game camera to post on your property. It might help you figure out what is roaming around your place at night.

Reported 12/8/17

“I was with a buddy on his ranch near Falfurrias, TX. We were driving down the ranch road at night and a bobcat sized black, slender cat ran across the road with some small animal in its mouth. It didn't look like a house cat or even a bobcat. It looked like some kind of puma or something.”

- Anonymous

TCH Comment: Falfurrias is a lightly populated town in lightly populated Brooks County in deep south Texas. It is right on the edge of the accepted range of both the mountain lion and the jaguarundi. The area is close enough to the Mexican border that the occasional jaguar could be crossing the Rio Grande and roaming the area. Like the report earlier, it is not clear whether or not the cat seen had a long tail. The cat is referred to as “bobcat-sized.” If no tail was visible, it was likely just that; a bobcat. If the tail was long and visible then I will need to revisit the sighting. In the meantime, I will not be placing the sighting on my distribution chart.

Reported 12/10/17

“I will on the southeast corner of Rockwall county in a somewhat wooded area surrounded by corn field to our north and cattle pasture to our south. Late September my sons and I were driving home around 8:30 and a midsize cat ran across our black top road about 12 feet in front of my car. I knew it wasn't a bobcat-seen those before a lot. This cat had a large head and ears that seemed down and not pointed up, also a long tail. I would say it's span was 4-5 feet long and about 2 feet tall. Not sure what color it was as I really just saw the animals silhouette.
A few days ago my neighbor said he saw what he knew was a black cat plain as day that stretched 8-9 feet long in full stride and 3 feet in height. It also ran across the black top road. He has a lot of wooded area where there's a small stream by his place. Wondering if there's a pack roving back there. I would love to get a game camera set up to find out.
I obviously ran across your site when searching for black cats on Texas and find everyone's posts very interesting. Growing up my grandfather had acres of land in Delta county in the boonies on the east side of the county. He swore there was a black panther behind his pond as he could hear them screaming like women at night and I'm pretty sure he spotted the cat (whatever type it was) once or twice before. If I get any more info from Rockwall county however I will let you know.

- Joni

TCH Comment: Rockwall County is in northeast Texas just east of Lake Ray Hubbard. While urban sprawl continues to creep that way, the eastern edges of the county remain surprisingly rural. If the cat in question really was 4-5 feet long it was no bobcat. Multiple black panther and mountain lion reports have come out of this area. I do not doubt the witness saw what they described but since she could not definitively say what color the cat was I will not be charting the incident on my black panther distribution map. Neither will I be charting the other two anecdotal reports as they are secondhand in nature. That is not a knock on Joni (the witness); I just want to maintain a high standard on charted reports.

Reported 12/27/17

“My Husband, son and sister saw a large black cat walking along the fence line in Sulphur Bluff, TX. It was Early December 2017. I contacted a local Sheriff Deputy that we know and asked if there had been any other sightings and he said yes. We live in the Sulphur River Bottom..75481.”

- Lori

TCH Comment: The Sulphur River has long been associated with sightings of cryptid cats and other…mysterious animals. The area is sparsely populated, wooded, and has ample water and food resources. It could very easily support a small population of large cat. I would recommend placing a game camera on the property in the hopes of capturing photographic evidence.

Reported 12/30/17

“Shot this video yesterday in Stephens county Texas. Was trying to figure out what it was and came across your site

This is at at least 40 yards with a crappy iphone video.

My guess is cat was 2.5 feet long plus a 2 foot tail. At least 35 lbs. My guess is closer to 45-50. The grass in the video is easy knee high.

Been an avid outdoorsman for 50 years. Looked at tens of thousand of trail cam pics. This was pretty shocking.

But I do know for a fact this critter was at least 35 lbs. minimum and that’s giving him a lot of credit for a super heavy coat.
I really think this animal could easily have weighed 50 lbs. He was one and half the size of any bobcat I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen a lot of those

I apologize for the coarse language. I didnt even realize I was talking to myself

Appreciate any thoughts.”

- Kapt Jack

TCH Comment: Stephens County sits in north-central Texas west of Fort Worth. Three major bodies of water (Possum Kingdom Lake, Hubbard Creek Lake, and Lake Daniel can be found in the county. It is very rural with lots of room for a cat to live virtually undetected. The video is interesting. If the witness is correct and he was approximately 40 yards away from the subject then this is a pretty big cat. If he was off in his estimation of distance, the cat could be significantly smaller. The witness is adamant that the cat weighed at least 35 lbs., possibly more. This would seem to rule out a jaguarundi or domestic/feral; however, the cat looks like a domestic/feral to me. The head shape is especially telling. There is strong anecdotal evidence that domestic/feral cats in Australia are growing to unusually large sizes; some the size of small leopards. I go into this in detail in my upcoming book (Ok, sorry, no more plugs). If domestic/ferals in Australia are growing to unusually large sizes there is really no reason the same thing could not occur here in the U.S. Maybe these cats are growing larger in order to fill a niche left vacant by larger cats and wolves hunted to the brink of extirpation?

Have you seen a black panther or some other unusual or out of place animal? If so, please email me at