Feline predator feared to be a will leopard is unmasked - as a pet cat
A huge feline predator feared to be a wild leopard that was spotted prowling near a sleepy Warwickshire village has been unmasked - as a pet cat.
Footage that appeared to show a 4ft (1.2m) long beast skulking in a field went viral after dad-of-one Philip White, 39, spotted it on October 29.
But despite having the same markings as a lynx the mysterious animal on the loose in Warwickshire was in fact a 50cm long Bengal Cat called Hiro.
His perplexed owner, who did not wish to be named, came forward after footage of her 14-month-old puss spread across the internet.
The 4kg domestic pet has a very long tail that has identical markings to an Asian leopard and regularly hunts for mice in the field where he was filmed.
Hiro’s owner said: “The moment I saw the video footage I knew it was Hiro.
“The story has gone viral, appearing in local and national newspapers and across social media and has sparked real fear among some of the people in the village.
“I can assure everyone that there is no Big Cat stalking the fields of Great Alne - at least not this time - it is just my lovely pet cat Hiro.
“There is no question whatsoever it is him - just look at him and then factor in that he plays in the field in question all the time.
“I do have to see the funny side of things, but I want the story put to bed now before it escalates further.
“I want the people of the village to know they are perfectly safe to let their pets out and I want everyone who is interested in spotting the mystery Big Cat to realise it is Hiro.
“You never know how silly some people might be if they thought there was a chance to find themselves a genuine Big Cat.
“In fact, I’ve been so worried about what people may do that I haven’t been able to let Hiro or Qurroa out.”
Bengal cats are bred to look like exotic jungle cats and are descended from Asian leopards.
The sighting baffled experts due to the angle from which the film was shot giving no sense of scale.
Big cat expert Frank Tunbridge, 70, who has investigated wild animal sightings for 30 years, said at the time: “From the size of this big cat, it looks like some kind of leopard.
“It has an enormous tail and appears to be preparing to get into a crouching position, probably to pounce on a small mammal.
“It is definitely a big cat, you can tell that from its body movement and the size of its tail.
“It could be jaguar but the colouring suggests it’s a leopard hybrid of some kind.”