Large Cat Sighting in Simsbury

Between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m., Sunday, May 5, 2013, my husband and I spotted two large cats in the Mountain Farms neighborhood in West Simsbury.

We were talking a walk around our front yard, when movement from the cul-de-sac's common area caught my eye. I looked up to see two large objects running from the street to Ethel Walker woods that butt up against the neighbor's yards.

The first figure slipped off into the brush before I could note anything other than movement, but I pointed to the second one, and my husband and I got a good look at it before it also disappeared into the woods.

The figure was backlit, so we couldn't make out any color or markings. I immediately looked at the head, thinking it was a coyote. Realizing the head shape wasn't canine, but feline shaped, I checked body size, thinking it was the neighbor's cat. The animal was much too large to be a housecat. My husband and I estimate it to be about three and a half feet long- NOT INCLUDING THE TAIL.

The tail is what stopped us. The tail was at least a foot and a half long, and it was held in a very distinct angle. The first six inches or so were held up and away from the rear of the animal at a 45 degree angle, then the rest of the tail sloped down from that point. There was no white visible on any part of the tail, which, even though the animal was backlit, would still have been able to be seen given how close we were to them (we were about 100 yards off).

The last impressions we were left with before the animal was gone from our view was that it had very thick legs and paws, and it didn't run like a dog.

We've had bobcats walk down our driveway in broad daylight. A couple hours after spotting the mystery cat, I watched a bobcat stalk its way across Tulmeadow during church. We know what bobcats look like, and this creature (I use the singular, and not plural, because we didn't see anything from the first animal other than motion) did not look like any of the ones we're used to seeing around here.

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  1. Well to be clear, a bobcat only has a tail thats at maximum 9 inches long. We’ve seen some mountain lions with shorter than 5-6 ft tails before. So longer than 9 inches by any measure is an indicator, but not positive ID, need something else.


  3. Mountain lions have tails that are 1/3rd the length of their bodies. Newborn and juvenile mountain lions’ tails are not 5-6 feet long. Additionally, I’m wondering where you come up with that number, as 2-3 feet is the length I’ve most often seen reported. An 18 inch long tail on a bobcat would not be usual and would, in an of itself, be worthy of note.

    I would also argue with your assertion that an observer would just know, without any doubt, that they are seeing a mountain lion simply based on their desire to “want to turn and run from them”.

    Lastly, if you’d take a moment and try your hand at careful reading, you’d notice that I did not identify the animal as anything specific. I didn’t claim I saw a mountain lion. I saw an animal whose field marks did not immediately and obviously match up with any of the known wildlife in my area.

    • I think the people who say the tail is as long as their body are a bit off. But 1/3 of their body is something I have never seen or read about. The tail is ALWAYS over half the body, most scientists agree its about 2/3 the head and body length.

      • Nope, i was wrong. Of all the websites I just visited, ONE did say 1/3. Weird, never read that before (Currier, 1983)

        • If they are measuring nose to tail then the tail is 1/3rd that length. Most sights quote the overall length as the nose to tip of tail. So the length of the tail is 1/2 the body if it is 1/3 of the total nose to tail length.

  4. Maybe a fisher? Though skunks more often hold their tail at the angle described and fishers don’t. Size can be deceiving as perceptions can be affected by distance and relative objects near animal.

    • The snout didn’t protrude the way a fisher’s does. The profile was undeniably feline. The tail was sleek and in no way bushy like a skunk’s.
      If what I saw were a fisher or a skunk, it would be the scariest one of its kind, due to sheer size. 😉

      • Is it really possible to confuse a ML and a fisher cat??? I don’t get it….size is completely different, height and color as well……….

  5. I just spotted a mt lion off of Old Farms Rd (6/23/16 @ 8:27 pm) crossing a field on the western side near the soccer fields it was traveling south.