SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
scroll down to see the video: http://www.wane.com/Global/category.asp?C=1185
Well … laugh at me about my seeing nightmare cats now, why don’t ‘cha?
More black cat sightings have been made, this time down in Adams County on the other side of Fort Wayne. This time, witnesses got it twice on video, making it clear they were seeing a very large exotic animal, probably a black leopard. Not a fat house cat, not an alcohol induced eye spot, and not Bigfoot. The line to kiss my hand and beg forgiveness forms here. Clearly, that’s my black cat.
Or, maybe not.
Those of you with long memories will recall that this all happened in Noble County a few years ago, with a series of sightings of what I like to call the “Big Honkin’ Cat”. We’re not talking Too-much Special Blend cat; we’re talking a “Call out the Japanese Army, this thing is a mutant” kind of a cat. There had already been sightings in the past when, one day, I got wind that it had been seen in a field just north of SR 8, almost at Albion town limits.
Naturally, I headed out there, because when a man-eating feline is seen wandering in an open field, isn’t a person’s first impulse to run outside and say, “Here, kitty kitty kitty …?”
I saw it twice – once running so fast that no human could escape it, including people in fast mopeds or small cars; and once crossing a field, where I got a good look at it in profile. In all the time since then, I have never spoken ill of a cat in public. Fear is a powerful thing.
Anyway, most sightings of the animal were in a crescent shaped area around Albion – and yes, it did give me a feeling we might be under siege – but, like any good urban legend, no one ever got it on camera. After awhile, the number of sightings waned, and then it was no more. Maybe it died, maybe it got caught by its original owner, maybe it went off to Hollywood to star in a remake of “Tarzan” … who knew? Based on witness accounts, including a sighting by an exotic animal expert from Black Pine Animal Park, the conclusion is that it was a black leopard. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no such thing as a black panther – not that I’d want to tell them that.
It was weird that people argued so voraciously over whether the cat, which I have named Sir, ever existed. (I figure if I ran into it again I’d say, “Hello, Sir”, and maybe it would go easy on me.) I’ll admit I was as doubtful as anyone, until I saw it stomping along like something out of a 50’s horror movie. But we’re not talking Bigfoot here, people.
Granted, Black Leopards aren’t native to this area, but the very simple explanation is that it was brought here, and either escaped, or was released by an owner who couldn’t afford 8 tons of kibble a week to keep its purr furnace going. It wasn’t a UFO; it wasn’t the Loch Ness Monster (which I understand has been sighted near Churubusco); it wasn’t an honest politician; it wasn’t any of those things that most serious people don’t believe in.
It was a cat. I mean, it was a cat in the same way King Kong was a monkey, but still – just a cat. I found it strange that people thought of it as some kind of Bermuda Triangle thing and, I confess, I also found it annoying that I’d become one of those people who was forced into the position of defensive believer.
So why am I not triumphantly declaring this as proof that my cat exists? Because Karen Hoag, cofounder of Black Pine Animal Park, saw it at the same time I did, and Karen knows a whole lot more about exotic animals than almost anyone else around here. She says these cats tend to set up a territory and stay there, rather than traveling all the way around the second largest city in Indiana. She knows their habits, saw my cat (and in no way is that a claim of ownership), and she knows of whence she speaks.
So what does the Adams County sighting prove? Two things: First, if it’s happening now there’s no reason to think it didn’t happen before; and second, there are some really stupid, nutcase exotic animal owners out there. Even if it wasn’t illegal to have those animals without a permit, how smart is it? Couldn’t they get a poodle? I mean, instead of the cat, not with it – owning both would only end badly.
If Godzilla showed up to smash Albion (that would take, what – three Godzilla-sized baby steps?), that would surprise me. If Dracula set up a mansion on the edge of town, I would be taken aback. If the federal government shrank, I’d have a heart attack and go to the Light. But a big cat? Cool (unless you’re being eaten), but not a reason to mobilize FEMA.
Maybe, one of these days, a male and female leopard will both escape and set up house together somewhere. Give that a few years, and then we’ll have something to talk about.