I recently saw a headline suggesting that a black panther could be on the loose in Gloucestershire. A walker spotted what looked like a large black cat and took some photos, which unfortunately are quite obscured. There have allegedly been several other sightings in the area too. I used to think such stories were hoaxes. However, this headline evoked memories from around 10 years ago when I may, or may not, have had a ‘big cat’ encounter myself in the Kentish countryside.
It was not long after dark and the weather was horrendous. There was torrential rain so bad that you could hardly see the road ahead due to the amount of spray. It was the kind of rain you get in Wales or the west country, but rarely see this way. Indeed, everyone on the A2 was going at a reduced speed, apart from your usual idiots going much too fast for the conditions in the outside lane.
My husband, (then fiancé), and I were on our way to his Uncle’s place to feed his cat as he was on holiday. Finally away from all the surface water of the A2, we made our way along the country lanes into Betsham, just outside Gravesend in Kent. Upon arrival, we decided that in spite of the weather we’d both get out and split jobs between us.
We walked up the driveway to the gate, looking towards the fields. As we opened it, rain beating down hard on us, we called for his Uncle’s cat. Less than a second later, we heard a snarling sound coming from a bush to the right of us. We looked at each other, as if to say “Did you hear that?” Then it happened again.
It absolutely sounded like the sort of noise a big cat would make, certainly not a domestic one. We struggled to attribute it to any other kind of animal.
It quickly became apparent that his Uncle’s semi-feral cat wasn’t coming and we scarpered, drenched and somewhat shaken by the experience, I still wonder what we heard that day and am so glad my husband was there too, otherwise I would have thought it a figment of my imagination.