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Saturday, June 13, 2009

SCOTTIE WESTFALL: All because I lost my router

Jon,

I lost a router last week, and I was without internet access.

However, if I had internet access, I would have noticed an unusual cat story in my local daily news website. Amazingly, for a small county in very rural West Virginia, we have a daily internet news site.

This cat was captured in a cage trap. And no one knew what it was. It was like a domestic cat with rounder ears and lots of spots.

After perusing the photos on the news story, I instantly thought "Bengal!" Bengals are a hybrid between domestic cats and the Asian leopard cat. They are widely marketed as pets in the US, although they are usually backcrosses with domestic cats. The F1's are often too much for the average person.

It turns out that a local cat breeder had purchased an F1 Bengal for breeding purposes. Somehow, the cat got out.

It was then trapped in the cage trap. The owners of the trap didn't know what it was. So they called the local authorities-- who didn't know what it was either!

And here's the kicker: instead of doing some research on what the animal was or even trying to find its owner, they took the cat to a remote area AND RELEASED IT!

Now, the cat's owner is looking for her. And local authorities look like total fools.

This has now made statewide news. It's not quite to the level of the supposed African lion that was running loose in the southeastern part of the state, but it's pretty bad.

Now, if I had been able to access the internet on Monday, I would have known what it was. I know the owner of the news website, and he would have received a response from me. He then would have passed this along to the authorities, and I'm sure the authorities would have at least performed a google search. And then they probably wouldn't have been as cavalier about turning such an animal loose.

And then a woman might have been reunited with her cat.

And all of this because my last router stopped working.

I've done a full story on it here: http://wildlifemysteries.wordpress.com/2009/06/13/strange-cat-captured-and-then-released/

1 comment:

Dr Dan Holdsworth said...

These sorts of domestic cat / wildcat hybrids are becoming more common in the UK as pets and feline genetics aside (there must be something a bit peculiar going on if you can make fertile hybrids of supposedly quite different little cat species) they do tend to cause a few problems.

For a start, they don't look like domestic cats, they are noisier than domestic cats and can be wilder, plus are a little bit more wary so very often all an observer seeing one sees is a brief look of cat, which then vanishes completely.

Such a thing happened, I believe, in Yorkshire a couple of years ago. The initial press reports were the usual ragbag of misheard gossip and so on, but asking around afterwards got me the actual story: One day a man out walking his dog had seen a biggish cat near some chicken sheds close to Church Fenton, which he estimated to be around a metre long.

He identified it as a tiger, which were it an actual tiger would have made it a half-grown specimen only a few months old or so. Subsequent reports were NOT eyewitness reports, but merely people saying that they'd heard this animal again in the vicinity of the sheds. Subsequently the story died down and the animal was not seen or heard again.

Now, on the face of it just like many other big cat seen stories, but most unlikely to be an actual big cat for several reasons. Firstly, Church Fenton is home to an RAF training airfield, so the surrounding area is very, very extensively overflown at low altitude by slow propeller-driven aircraft, and the airfield perimeter is thoroughly patrolled by the RAF police.

Secondly, that area is one of the favourite hunting grounds of the Badsworth and Bramham Moor foxhounds, and if there's one thing guaranteed to make any cat react it is the sights, sound and smell of 40-odd foxhounds drawing through an area (and not even the airfield is safe if a fox heads in the wrong direction here).

Finally, the area is well enough walked by dog walkers and rough shooters that any large animal would be spotted fairly quickly just from debris of kills and the like, so all I can think is that this "tiger" was a misidentified domestic cat hybrid which as soon as the news story broke was confined to a house indefinitely thereafter by a somewhat alarmed owner.