A mysterious panther-like cat darted in front of a car in Marlborough, New Zealand that left a couple in complete shock. Juliearna Kavanagh was driving down the road just before Ward on the east coast of the South Island when the huge cat-like creature leapt across the road about 10 to 15 feet in front of her vehicle. The encounter happened on Friday night (April 26, 2019) at approximately 11:30 P.M. when Kavanagh and her partner, Warren Lewis, were coming back from Invercargill.
“It was in full flight; it was big and sleek and with a cat’s head and a huge tail,” Kavanagh explained, “We both looked at each other, thinking what the heck had just happened?” She added that it had a “strong-looking body and it had a huge, long tail.” She said that it was a lot bigger and longer than a domestic or feral cat and that it was either dark brown or black in color.
They tried to make sense of what they had just witnessed, “We pulled off the road, slightly hysterical and went through every animal that it could possibly be, but nothing made sense,” she said, adding, “It was shocking.” After the encounter, she contacted the police and Ministry of Primary Industries.
While there are no large cats that are native to New Zealand, many people have reported seeing them over the years – some as far back as the early 1900s. With so many reported sightings, perhaps there is a cat population living in the wild.
There have been several stories circulating as to why so many people are seeing large cats, including a pregnant puma that escaped from a circus in Lyttelton Harbour, and cougars being used to control the deer population in the Canterbury foothills. However, officials continue to explain the sightings as being just a feral cat.
Kavanagh is convinced that what she saw that night was a puma. “A big cat isn’t the first thing that we naturally thought of; after all we don’t live in a country where you expect to see them. But that’s what it was,” she claimed, adding, “I don’t scare easily, I’ve seen some s***, but it was big, quick and black and I was struck by how big its tail was.”
And there’s no way that she believes that it was a feral cat, “If that was a feral cat, it’s a feral cat on steroids,” she stated.
So, was it a panther or a feral cat? There have been too many sightings to say that it’s only a feral cat, especially when the witnesses claim that it was much bigger than feral ones. Hopefully someone will be able to take a good picture of it to prove once and for all what the creature actually is.