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Mystery of Hampstead 'big cat' may be solved

PUBLISHED: 07:54 28 September 2017 | UPDATED: 08:01 28 September 2017

The beast photographed in the garden of the Ferncroft Avenue home in Hampstead, has been identified as a domestic cat.

The beast photographed in the garden of the Ferncroft Avenue home in Hampstead, has been identified as a domestic cat.

Archant

The mystery surrounding a 'big cat' sighting in a Hampstead garden has been solved.

Nine-year-old ginger tom, Rufus, is apparently not much of a hunter. Picture: LYDIA GLENNIENine-year-old ginger tom, Rufus, is apparently not much of a hunter. Picture: LYDIA GLENNIE

On Monday, September 11 a ‘puma-like’ creature was caught on camera in the garden of a home in Ferncroft Road, Hampstead. It was believed at the time the animal was feasting on a grey cat.

But solicitor Lydia Glennie, who lives in nearby Platt’s Lane, believes the ‘beast of Hampstead’ is none other than her nine-year-old ginger tom, Rufus.

“I recognised him in the picture straightaway. He’s larger than most cats. He stretches out to about two and a half feet, which is long. I also know he doesn’t eat cats,” she added.

According to Mrs Glennie, Rufus is very much a neighbourhood cat, making house calls over a wide area.

“He has a substantial property portfolio,” Mrs Glennie said before explaining how Rufus doesn’t come to his own home very much because of a “fiercely territorial” black and white cat half his size who “shares” it.

“He meets a lot of people. When I meet people socially they don’t know me, but they know my cat,” the mother of one said.

However, Rufus’s hunting skills leave much to be desired. Mrs Glennie said: “He’s not a great hunter. One of our cats is always bringing things in. When she was a kitten she brought in a crow.”

Quick to assure residents they have nothing to fear from Rufus, Mrs Glennie called on neighbours not to feed other people’s cats to avoid them getting ill. And on the thought of a big cat appearing on Hampstead’s streets she said: “I haven’t seen the Hampstead puma. I see the odd fox going by.”

Since last week’s story an expert from the Natural History Museum has also analysed the photo and confirmed the beast is a domestic cat eating a pigeon.

The Museum’s estimate is the wood pigeon is about 40cm long and the cat somewhere in the region of 80cm in length.

Florin Feneru, identification officer at the museum, said: “The photo clearly shows a domestic cat eating a pigeon. There is no need to worry about domestic cats. They are much smaller than pumas and not nearly as dangerous. Pumas are widely distributed: most of South America, plus areas in Central and North America. Yet people there live normal lives and accidents are rare. Accidents in Britain are even less likely, as there is no wild population.”

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