House cat the ‘size of a panther’ caught in NZ wilderness

A “muscular” black cat the “size of a panther” has been caught by a trapper in the New Zealand wilderness.


Pest eradicator Doug Beech of the firm Matukituki Natives has been trapping pests for the Conservation Department and private landowners near tourist resort Lake Wanaka, when he stumbled across the huge cat.

“It was quite intimidating to be fair, even though it was dead – we use kill-traps. It looked a bit oversize in some of its features, it had a big head on it, decent sized teeth. I brought it back to show a few people because I was so surprised by it, by the size of it. It looked like a panther.

“It filled up the length of a fish bin – just the body – and the tail was longer again.”

The bins are nearly 70cm long. Beech says the cat was “muscular” and clearly in its prime.

“Feral cats can be quite skinny and look underfed, but this one was definitely doing pretty well for itself.”

Beech says it isn’t the first really big domestic cat to have surprised locals.

“There was a guy who shot one down in Fiordland, a hunter. He said it had really short legs on it, and they reckoned it had started to revert to how they used to be. Because domestic cats have a lot longer legs on them now and a slinky body, but they used to have quite short legs which were much more effective for hunting. I think he took it into DOC, because they were quite concerned these wild cats were reverting quite quickly. He said it was about a metre in length.”

Photo: Mark Price/ODT. Doug Beech with his fish bin, for size comparison
Photo: Mark Price/ODT. Doug Beech with his fish bin, for size comparison

Although this cat was definitely a domestic breed, albeit oversized and muscular, it’s not the first big cat sighting in New Zealand.

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