A terrifying leopard-like creature dubbed the “Beast of Broomfield” could be a missing pet Bengal cat named Dougal, its owner has said.
Dougal went missing from his Chelmsford home about ten days ago, prompting Hannah Butcher and Darren Brown to put up posters “absolutely everywhere”.
They have been “inundated” with calls after the Essex Chronicle reported a leopard could be terrorising the area.
“It’s not a leopard,” Miss Butcher said.”It’s bound to be Dougal, my cat.”
At 7kg (15lbs) Dougal, aged seven, is a distinctive feline as he has no tail, “but he’s not a leopard and he’s not a sphinx, either”, his owner told the BBC.
Dougal’s disappearance had left the couple “devastated”, but after reading about the fearless feline roaming the area, “the search for him possibly took an unexpected turn,” Mr Brown said.
The newspaper published extracts from an anonymous letter claiming a “huge” wild cat was on the loose in the Chelmsford suburb.
The “Beast of Broomfield” had left the letter writer “shaken” and terrified her Yorkshire terrier, Dylan, after roaming through her back garden.
The woman, who had been washing the dishes at the time, was stopped in her tracks when she spotted the “huge cat with leopard-like markings and no tail”.
She told the newspaper she wanted to warn other pet owners and parents of small children about the “jungle cat” that had reduced her pet terrier to a “whimpering” wreck.
After the Mirror also picked up the story of Broomfield’s “beast”, Mr Brown said: “We have been inundated with calls from people who know him, or received our flyer, convinced that our Dougal is the ‘Beast of Broomfield’.”
However, Miss Butcher was quick to dismiss the wild cat theory.
“How many cats can there be with such distinctive markings and no tail? It’s just my domestic Bengal,” she said.
“All I want is to have Dougal back home.”
Leopards v Bengal cats
- Leopards are the smallest of the big cats, but at about 10 times the weight of a Bengal cat, you would probably know if you had a leopard in your garden
- Both leopards and Bengals are excellent climbers. Leopards are also very good swimmers and unlike most domestic cats, Bengals are also known for their love of water
- A leopard’s diet includes insects, fish and reptiles, as well as grazing animals. Domestic Bengals are more likely to graze on tinned or dry food from the local supermarket
- Leopards spend most of the day hidden in trees or caves, usually hunting at night. Pet cats are also night-hunters, but most prefer a snooze on a sofa to a cave or tree
- Leopards have spots – Bengals go one better, with some having stripes as well
- Leopards cannot roar as powerfully as a lion, but they can purr like domestic cats. The Bengal’s voice is very distinctive – making a cooing, chirping or strange gravelly sound
- The Bengal breed was created by crossing an Asian leopard cat with a domestic cat