Big cat sightings: All the times 'panthers' and 'pumas' were thought to have been spotted in South Yorkshire

Following the suggestion that a ‘big cat’ was roaming South Yorkshire last week, we take a look back at some of the most memorable sightings in the county from over the years.

Wednesday, 9th February 2022, 9:21 am

Earlier this week, a ‘four foot, sandy coloured beast’ was spotted near a McDonald’s drive thru in Doncaster with fears it could have travelled 50 miles to South Yorkshire.

A woman living in North Yorkshire said the big cat may be her Savannah-breed feline which went missing from her home two years ago.

Local diners at the McDonald’s branch spotted the cat and were struck with shock as the size of the cat as it roamed around, presumably looking for food.

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Big Cat sighting in Derbyshire

Diner Jon Middleton said: “I was just sat in the queue for the drive thru in my car when this animal emerged out of the hedgerow.

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“It was huge. Its markings and behaviour were quite distinctive. Everyone was saying how beautiful it was, but everyone was really freaked out too.”

After watching footage of the animal as it slowly crept alongside the hedgerow near to the restaurant in Woodlands, Pamella Standish said: “The description of the cat seen would appear to be the same as my cat.

Big Cat Sighting near McDonald's Doncaster last week. Photo: Jon Middleton

“He has been missing for almost two years now.”

Sightings and stories of big cats in South Yorkshire date back to the 1960s when wealthy people kept them as pets.

But since it was banned in 1976, South Yorkshire has become somewhat of a hotspot for sightings of these big cats.

Here are some of the most memorable sightings and stories from over the years:

Possible big cat paw print in Cleckheaton.

November 2019 – Black Panther in Doncaster

In November 2019, mum Jessica Clark spotted what she thought was a huge five foot black panther in the countryside close to Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium in an experience she described as “terrifying.”

“As we got closer, I thought it was a dog or something. But when we were right at the side of it, I could clearly tell it was a big cat,” she said.

“It looked about 5ft tall and I could see it over the grass. You could see its tail, its face, its muscular legs, everything.”

Possible big cat sighting on Ilkey Moor

January 2017 – Panther Sighting on Junction One

Alan Tomlinson claimed to have spotted a panther or puma near to junction one of the M180, close to Doncaster services.

Mr Tomlinson, who says he has never seen anything like it, said he realised it was a big cat once he saw the tail.

“I only saw the back of it, but I knew it was a puma or a panther when I saw the size of its tale which was curled right round. That's how I knew.”

2018 – Bolsterstone

A woman in Bolsterstone was shocked when she saw a cat she “could only describe as a puma” roaming the area – and was seemingly staring at her until it seemed to be spooked and ran off.

“I know that the chance of seeing such an animal in the wild, especially around these parts, are practically nil. However this was a huge beast by feline standards and was about two feet tall on all four legs,” she said.