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Awful Story: Cat Owners Beware
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Posts: 32
Joined: Jan 2008
Post: #1
05-12-2010 06:58 PM


It it with some sadness that I write this - last night a man knocked on our door (just off Stondon Park) and asked if I had a black and white cat, I replied that I didn't but I know my neighbours do ... he was very keen to trace the owners and I was half expecting him to say that he had accidentally run it over...

We got chatting and he explained that he went into his garden this morning and found a black white cat minus its head and one of its legs - he was genuinely quite distressed, and said that he had a cat himself and was reluctant to let it out now...

From what he was saying it looked unlikely that it had been done by an animal, and appeared to be what he he said "a clear cut" - obviously worse-case thinking may mean that it had been done deliberately by someone, but I would prefer to think it was indeed an unfortunate encounter with another animal Sad

Either way, just to warn any other local cat owners around the Stondon Park and off-roads area - I think the guy was going to call the RSPCA incase of any similar incidents.

Cheers, Daniel

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Posts: 294
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #2
06-12-2010 03:13 PM

Good grief Sad We don't normally let our cat out at night because that seems to be when the foxes are active. I really hope it's not something more sinister.

Can you narrow the area down any? Is it East or West of Stondon Park.

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Posts: 17
Joined: Sep 2010
Post: #3
06-12-2010 05:47 PM

I'd be interested to hear what the RSPCA have to say on the subject. It is likely to be either a fox (I once left my cats lead in the garden overnight and found it the next day totally shredded by foxes which did make me think how much damage they could do to something alive) or worst case scenario it could be one of those "status dogs" who are trained by their owners by being given animals to attack, a large dog could inflict damage of this kind quite easily. However as it was in this gentleman's garden (which is presumably private and not easy to access by people) it seems less likely to be a dog and more likely a rogue fox - they are sadly growing bolder and more agressive. Keeping pets in after dark is probably the safest bet and be especially watchful of older more vulnerable pets who are less able to fight back.

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Posts: 65
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #4
07-12-2010 03:58 PM

Yet another possibility - although maybe a more unlikely one? - is that this signals the return of the 'Sydenham Panther'.

There have been repeated sightings of an unidentified big cat in the area between Crystal Palace and Forest Hill over the last five years or so. Although this seems like the stuff of urban myth, not all of the witnesses could be written off as flaky self-publicists. I'm pretty sure that a poster on this forum has reported a sighting near their home in Netherby Road, which isn't that far from Stondon Park.

I can't cite chapter and verse on this but I remember that some of the online discussion/speculation on this theme referred to the remains of animals in Dulwich Woods that appeared to have been the victims of savage attacks by a large predator.

(The one thing that I do remember is a consensus that, even if there was a big cat roaming free around South East London, it was unlikely to be an actual panther, despite the local press giving it that title.)

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Posts: 65
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #5
09-12-2010 12:06 PM

@ ceetee : The RSPCA's website refers readers to an external link 'The Fox Website' whose line is that it is relatively rare for a fox to attack a fully grown cat (as opposed to a kitten).

''In an area of north-west Bristol with 1,225 pet cats, 8 (0.7%) were killed by foxes in a year and these were mainly kittens. This is an area with a high density of foxes and pet cats: one average fox home range included about 100 pet cat ranges, this is about 1 fox per 100 cats. Foxes can kill cats but this is rare and it is more likely that a cat will be run over by a car than killed by fox. This is not surprising as both species are predators armed with teeth and claws and are of similar size. Moreover, in Bristol fox densities were high; at lower, more common densities, it is likely that fewer pets will be lost.'' from The Fox Website

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Posts: 65
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #6
09-12-2010 12:17 PM

...and here's some Sydenham Panther related material.

This article from September 2009 concerns cat remains discovered in a Sydenham park. A commentator describes how the 'sandpapery' tongue of a black leopard can strip away animal fur and leave 'a clean kill' - this reminded me of the description in the original post:-

This article from 2005 contains an account by a man who claimed to have been attacked by the cat. The BBC is probably a more reliable news source than the News Shopper and, in this case, the cat was also witnessed by one of two policemen who attended the scene:-

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Posts: 17
Joined: Sep 2010
Post: #7
09-12-2010 03:14 PM

Indeed Spud, I agree that historically Foxes are unlikely to attack cats and have more often come off worse in a fight with bad scratches becoming infected. However there is some thinking, so far theory only, that foxes are becoming bolder. I would rather the attacker was our local panther (which incidentally my Brother is sure he has seen!) as I am a big fox fan, but whilst in doubt best to play safe.

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Posts: 65
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #8
09-12-2010 03:25 PM

That's fair enough, Cettee. Intrigued about your brother: where was he at the time?

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Posts: 17
Joined: Sep 2010
Post: #9
09-12-2010 03:52 PM

Hi Spud, I just checked with him and recalls it well! He "spotted" it near to the railway bridge by the Bonhoeffer Church on the side where the allotments are, it was a day or so before it appeared in the local papers, this was back in 2005.

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Posts: 269
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #10
09-12-2010 08:08 PM

I agree with the previous post that it is very rare for a fox to attack an adult cat.

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Posts: 555
Joined: May 2010
Post: #11
13-12-2010 08:17 PM

The story reminded me of this item from a few years back:

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Posts: 1
Joined: Dec 2010
Post: #12
14-12-2010 02:48 PM

It is an awful story about the cat.

I don't want to cause unnecessary panic, but I am pretty sure that there was a wolf[/b] outside my flat on Sunday. It was in the morning and I was 100% sober when my boyfriend called out that there was a fox outside the flat (the cat was fortunately slepping on the bed). I went to investigate and there was an extremely large 'fox' outside the flat. However, it was not the usual dull brown color of a fox but had dark markings on its back with white patches on the side. Also had a very round 'friendly' face and bushy tail, whereas foxed normaylly have pointy face and scrabby tail. I was so shocked that it ran away before I could even think of phoning the RSPCA.

I know that there aren't suppose to be wolves in England, certainly not in London, but people do smuggle all sorts of animals into the country as pets, and maybe this 'fox-looking-like-a-wolf' escaped/ got dumped?

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Posts: 459
Joined: Dec 2010
Post: #13
14-12-2010 06:25 PM

I saw a similar wolf like creature in the garden of my old house in west London some some years a panic I called the RSPCA wild animal
section (it was around 6am and I got an emergency number from directory enquiries) anyway I described the animal-tall and like a wolf
-or a husky type dog-I was told by the RSPCA that it was a 'dog fox' and was harmless and wouldnt hurt me or my elderly cat.
No idea what a 'dog-fox' is btw but thats what they called the creatureUnsure

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Posts: 1,111
Joined: Jun 2008
Post: #14
14-12-2010 07:56 PM

Isn't that just a male fox?

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Bonnie Blue

Posts: 131
Joined: Jan 2009
Post: #15
14-12-2010 09:58 PM

I dispute the idea that Foxes don't kill cats
I know of three, one was cornered in a greenhouse, one entered a friend's house through the open kitchen window, caused mayhem in the kitchen and took the Siamese cat, another young cat was found dead in the garden with a broken neck
I have had a Fox in my house in the early hours of the morning when I let my cat out for her morning wander
I assume it was after her food
Luckily she was unharmed

When she was much older a Fox came out of the bushes and chased her I happened to be there and it ran off but I never let her out on her own after that

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Posts: 9
Joined: Feb 2011
Post: #16
18-02-2011 02:34 PM

My husband was walking our two very large dogs in Sydenham Hill woods early one morning about 9 months ago and encountered what he believes was 'The Sydenham Panther' whilst it was out hunting. As he had our two large hunting dogs with him (who wouldn't go anywhere near the black beastie) he was able to get a very good comparison of size.

In our area several cats have disappeared (including two of our own) and I am sure I have smelt the panther on one occaision & given how many foxes we have in the area and having been around big cats - I can distinguish between the musks! Whether it's survived this winter...

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Posts: 1,796
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #17
18-02-2011 09:28 PM

You should report your sightings to the police who themselves have gone on record as seeing something like a panther.
Its interesting stuff. I'm surprised that no one has investigated this further with cctv or night cameras or something. Perhaps worth seeing if someone will do this? Otherwise it ll turn into just another urban myth.

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