No one, except big cat watchers, is smiling after a “massive” black puma was photographed outside of the Chester Football Club’s Deva Stadium in Cheshire, England. The cat wasn’t smiling either, but that did little to relieve the fear of the witness who said about trying to get a better photo: “I guess it wouldn’t have let me get closer anyway, unless I accidentally cornered it, but f*** that it was massive.” Was it one of the elusive big cats of Cheshire and England?
“On my way back from work very early in the morning, just after daylight. Walking past the football ground I saw something big skulking behind the building site, way down the far end by the fields. I watched from the road for 20 to 30 seconds, until it emerged and was clearly a big cat. It was too big to be anything else like a dog or a fox, and the wrong colour, it was jet black like a puma, despite it being a bit dark still this was clear to see. It skulked along like it was watching something behind the stand, moving slowly but with movement that was undoubtedly a cat.”
Matty Rodgers tells Cheshire Live he was in the parking lot of Chester FC’s Deva Stadium in the early morning of July 20 when he saw what he is convinced was a big black cat. (Photo here.) The Deva Stadium is named for the Roman fort Deva Victrix, which became the city of Chester. The stadium is near the River Dee on the border between England and Wales, which is why Rodgers contacted Puma Watch North Wales, which posted the photo on its website and Facebook page with a handy red circle to see it in the unmagnified photo. According to the site and a map of recent reported sightings, Chester would appear to be an alien black cat hotspot. Cheshire Live agrees.
“There have been a number of suspected ‘big cat’ sightings over the past year in Chester. In December, an Uber Eats driver believes he took a photo of an ‘enormous big cat’ on Chester Meadows. Weeks later, a woman and her puppy were shaken by a ‘deep growl’ coming from thick undergrowth at the same location. In February, a ‘big cat’ was reportedly spotted overnight on Plas Newton Lane, close to Chester Zoo. CheshireLive also shared a video of a suspected ‘big cat’ filmed near the Chester branch of the Shropshire Union Canal in early January. A suspected ‘big cat’ was reportedly spotted twice in the Countess of Chester Country Park, one on Tuesday March 23 and another on Monday, March 29.”
Is there a Welsh word for “Yikes!”? Puma Watch North Wales does an excellent job of explaining that the UK banned big cats as pets in the 1970s but not releasing them into the local wilds, so owners brought them to the remote Welsh countryside where small but significant populations have thrived ever since. Pumas of any color, assuming that’s what they are, are solitary animals occupying vast territories alone. This is why evidence of their existence is rare. To survive, they avoid humans, which explains why photos are rare and those taken, like Rodgers’ are far away. However, Puma Watch North Wales tells skeptics “hundreds of sightings each year can’t be wrong.”
“A BBC study collated more than 100 big cat sightings in 18 months across North and Mid Wales. Another study recorded 123 Welsh sightings over two years.”
Why was this particular big cat attracted to the Chester FC’s Deva Stadium? The club’s mascot is a wolf. However, until recently the club purchased its shirts from … Puma! Perhaps the cat is seeking revenge for its namesake.
Or it’s just hungry for some stadium grub – its Blues Bar is rumored to have great pies and sandwiches.