After a few days on the run, the large cat that was first spotted in Central Islip on Tuesday morning has been caught by authorities and is currently at Sweetbriar Nature Center in Smithtown while officials determine what animal sanctuary to send it to.
Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone said they are waiting for an official veterinarian evaluation before they can determine exactly what type of animal the cat is, but that it’s most likely a Eurasion lynx that was somebody’s pet that escaped. Owning any type of exotic cat is illegal in New York.
Central Islip resident Diane Huwer first spotted the cat on Tuesday morning around 6:30 a.m. when she went to feed some of the feral cats in her backyard. Earlier that morning, Huwer said one of her neighbors saw the animal on their way to work. Huwer took photos of the cat that were then circulated widely on Facebook. Carole Baskin, who gained fame from the Netflix documentary show “Tiger King,” even commented on photos of the animal.
At a press conference on Friday afternoon, Bellone said that a resident in Central Islip called in to say they had seen the animal in a backyard, and officials came down to try and get the cat. Bellone noted that because the yard had no fencing, police used their bodies and cars to keep the animal in the area before experts arrived. Bellone said the experts were able to sedate the animal.
“Of course, this was a big concern because, No. 1, this is not an animal that is supposed to be out here on the loose in suburbia,” Bellone said.
“Fortunately, this ended quick enough that we didn’t have any nicknames associated with this animal,” Bellone joked, referencing a bull that escaped from a slaughterhouse and was loose in the Moriches/Mastic area for over a month last year.
Bellone also noted that when the cat was cornered by officials, it was more “frightened and panicked” than aggressive, which was a good thing. Now that the animal has been found, Bellone said that they are trying to ascertain where the animal came from.
Suffolk County SPCA chief Roy Gross reminded residents of the amnesty program that is offered. “Surrender it and you will not be charged,” Gross said of people who have illegal animals as pets.
Officials asked that anyone with information on where the cat may have come from to call the DEC at (631) 444- 0250.