Jul 5, 2013 7:08 PM by Allison Bourne-Vanneck

'Big cat' piques Iberia neighborhood's curiosity

A big black cat is the talk of the town in Iberia Parish. Those who have seen it, like Cathy Irwin, are worried for their safety.

"In this pen right here we had some geese, and out of this pen we lost three chickens and a duck last night due to this large animal," Irwin said.

Irwin says her guests saw a big black cat from across her yard, during their Fourth of July celebration.

"They weren't sure what it was, they went up with some binoculars and started looking at it they called me over to go see, and it was this very large black cat," Irwin said.

They took photos of the cat about 70 yards away. Irwin says it was prancing around slowly, and eventually moved out of sight.

She notified authorities immediately.

"Oh my God, was all we could say you could see the eyes of the cat real real well, and as it stood up you saw actually how large it was," Irwin said.

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is using a cut-out of a cougar as part of their investigation to determine exactly what kind of animal was spotted.

"What we found was that it definitely wasn't a wild cat, it was not a cougar. It was probably a large domestic cat," Wildlife and Fisheries Biologist Travis Dufour said.

To make that determination, Wildlife and Fisheries took a photo of the large cat and compared that to the life-sized silhouette of a cougar. They put the cut-out in the same spot the mystery cay was in when neighbors snapped the photo.

Dufour says the large cat seen in Iberia Parish has legs that are too short and it's too small to be cougar, panther, or other wildcat.

"It is a large domestic cat and for it's size it is, but compared to a wildcat it's small," Dufour said.

"I hope and pray they can capture it safely, and no one gets hurt by this animal because we don't know exactly what this animal can do. It's not something you see everyday in a neighborhood," Irwin said.

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says there are only six big cat species, one of which is the cougar which is found in the U.S. However, cougars come in either a brown or tan color, and the cat in Iberia Parish was black.



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