CD Witness Statement: Thanks for this opportunity to share my account of seeing a large black cat some years ago. I live in Didcot South Oxfordshire, and my sighting was a couple of miles away from home. The area is just a short walk from the Thames and has a lot of small ponds or water sources scattered all across the area. A mix of woodlands and farm fields it is an ideal place for any large predator to stay hidden and thrive.
In July 1999 and I had just finished work for the day and as I often do, I had decided to go fishing in Sutton courtney gravel pits just outside Didcot, It was in the evening. I would say around 7 pm I was just driving through the pit area to the lake, thinking about getting set up and just enjoying the unwind, when I realised that where I was looking, about half way down where a fence met the track a large black feline had stepped out of tall grass onto the track! It was clearly a cat and not a domestic cat, this was much bigger in build and length, it clearly stood out as unusual to me.
I slammed on the brakes of the car and was sitting there watching it. The creature at this point was on the passenger side and about six feet from the car, so I got a really good look at it approaching me and as it walked by on the passenger side. I opened the door and got out and for obvious reasons I stayed on the drivers side of the vehicle. I stepped on to the sill of the door to get a better look, and as I did, I saw the creature walk around the end of the fence and back into the long grass! I can only describe it as black about four to five feet long, with shortish legs, a long tail curled upwards, the closest resemblance I can think of is a jaguar or puma! I had been to this area fishing many times and have never seen the like before or since.
The Oxford Newspaper states:
DOZENS of big cat sightings have been reported across many corners of Oxfordshire, a new Freedom of Information Act request has revealed. Police have revealed they received 13 reported sightings of big cats in Oxfordshire since January 2010, with another 11 scattered across the rest of the policing area. Sightings of panther-type creatures have ranged from Minster Lovell and Aston Rowant, to the heart of Oxford in Headington.
The Oxford Mail reported that Thames Valley Police wildlife officer Pc Simon Towers had found a puma’s footprint in West Oxfordshire. Karen Godfrey, 41, of Hewitt Close, Leafield, was with her mother-in-law in July 2000 when a big cat crossed in front of the car on the outskirts of Chadlington. She said: “It was more the size of the tail that scared us. “It jumped over a wall in two leaps. “We got out and stupidly tried to chase it, but it had gone.” Derek Bowers, of Eynsham Road, Botley, was heading to a business meeting in Great Rollright when a big cat crossed the road in front of him. He said: “When I told people in the village, they said it had been seen quite regularly around that area.”
Kyle Walters, from Barton, saw a big cat a month ago while walking his dog on the outskirts of the city. He said: “My dog was looking into the field and a jet black cat-like animal passed us only 15 metres away. “It was about a foot-and-a-half tall and did not seem the slightest bit bothered by me or my dog.” In July, organisers of Truck in Steventon were sent photographs apparently showing a panther-like creature skulking around the Hill Farm venue after this year’s music festival. Wildlife officer Pc Simon Towers had found a puma’s footprint in West Oxfordshire.
I have taken a huge number of cat reports over the years, so many I no long doubt they are here. Elusive and in a natural environment most cats will avoid humans at all costs. If your interested in big cat research there are a number of people who I can put you in touch with that may know of any sightings in your area. It goes without saying a simple google search of your area using the words Puma or Large Black Cat will bring forth a flood of accounts. Far too many for me to name here.