Big cats sighted in Sussex

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MORE EVIDENCE has emerged that black panthers are living among us in Sussex.

Enid and Peter Barnes from Seaford spotted a big black cat while walking their dog Fred on South Heighton Hill.

Their two year old collie labrador was playing in the undergrowth when they believe he came across the cat on Bank Holiday Monday at around 6am.

Mrs Barnes said: “We have both discussed what we saw and agree that we were not witnessing an average domestic black cat escaping from a dog.

“A domestic cat would have shot up the nearest tree, under the first parked car it could find or into a garden.

“What we saw was a wild animal running for freedom, the gate into the paddock was no barrier.

“It was much too quick for Fred, he just couldn’t keep up, so reluctantly gave up the chase and ran back to us.”

Mrs Barnes said the cat was longer than Fred and only a little taller.

It was sleek and very black, carrying its tale in a gentle arc, rather like a lioness does when stalking prey and ran with gentle long loping strides, covering a lot of ground with each pace.

When Fred disappeared into the undergrowth to explore the couple realised there were two animals in there giving chase.

They saw the big cat shoot out of the hedgerow in full flight and race a cross the path and into a paddock.

Mrs Barnes added: “We feel rather privileged to have seen the South Downs Big Cat even though it was a rather worrying few moments trying to regain control of a confused dog who couldn’t work out where his new toy had gone.” Sussex Big Cat Watch released details of two incidents where big cats were seen on May 28 earlier this year. The first sighting was in Westmeston at 10.45pm.

A mother and son were driving down a road when they suddenly swerved to avoid hitting the back of a big black cat in front of them. Another testimony of a cat sighting was given by a dog walker earlier this year.

He was enjoying the country air on the South Downs near Kingston on January 21. Then a dark creature with a long, slim tail popped its head up 25 yards away.

His brave dog chased the cat away. In July last year seasoned farmer Ray Nice told the Express that a big cat had gobbled up 17 geese at his 25-acre smallholding in Swansbrook Lane, Chiddingly. A big paw print in nearby woods convinced him that only a big cat had the power to savage his flock. Have you seen a big cat in the Lewes or Wealden areas? If so email us at sussex.express@sussexnewspapers.co.uk with your full name and address and where abouts you saw the animal.