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Reviewing pics like these from Wellsboro, PA used to be our bread and butter. But 14 years of looking at hundreds of bobcat and housecat photographs reported as cougars, with only one cougar confirmation from Nova Scotia to Mississippi crossing our desks (Greenwich, CT 2011) since 1999, helped us realize the ubiquity of misidentifications.

Compare the Wellsboro Abyssinian housecat to the young panther released this week in South Florida.

Abyssinian

Housecat

Panther

Note the absence in the Abyssinian of the panther’s dark mustache, the panther’s white markings through the nose, throat, chest, belly and legs, and compare the Abyssinian’s pointed ears with the panther’s more rounded ones.

If, as reported, this was a one-year old cougar, it would likely retain the spotting still evident on the two-year old panther. Also, as we see so often in such reports, a pic for scale of the raccoons and skunks (or a person) the camera was meant to capture is not provided.

In such cases, we’ve used the Scott Ratio to help us further distinguish cat species. Cougars have small heads and long tails in proportion to their bodies; house cats have large heads and shorter tails proportionally.

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