More large cat sightings reported by Cowetans

by Wes Mayer

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This photo of a black leopard, showing how long its tails can get, was taken at the Madrid Zoo in 2009. 


If you have any reason to believe you have seen a large black cat-like animal running around in Coweta County, you are not alone.

Seven more locals have stories to tell about how they have seen a large cat in the county. Some sightings have occurred this year, and another goes all the way back to the 1970s.

Lisa Perry is confident she saw a large black cat this spring while she was driving southbound on U.S. Highway 29 south of Newnan near Pearl Springs Lake. She didn’t recognize it as a cat at first. She said she was driving at dawn, and she thought she saw a snake moving around on the side of the road. As she got closer, however, she realized the “snake” was attached to a large black creature sitting off the road, and the “snake” was actually a tail. When she got even closer, the animal stood up, and she was certain it was a large black cat.

“You could tell it was watching something and looking into the woods,” Perry said. “It had a huge tail, and it just stood up and slowly walked into the woods. You could tell it wasn’t scared of traffic.”

Perry said the black cat walked into the woods toward Corinth Road, which is a fairly isolated area. She described the animal as acting just like a cat would when it sees something it is interested in, but it seemed to be about the size of a Great Dane.

About a week-and-a half ago, Suzette Binek and her son were driving on Hammock Road in the evening when a creature darted across the road in front of them. She said she couldn’t tell what it was, but it was not as tall as a deer, and it looked like another animal was waiting on the other side of the road.

Binek said it was dusk, but she believes the animal was more brown than it was black.

About a year-and-a-half ago, Don and Karen Bowen also saw a large black cat while they were driving on Roscoe Road near Dunaway Gardens. Don Bowen said it was around 5:30 p.m., and they were driving around a curve – fairly fast – when they came upon a large animal moving slowly from left to right across the road.

“It was a shocking cat,” he said. “It just exploded off to the right side. From the edge of the road, its tail must have been just inside the center line.”

Bowen said that, even though it was leaping off the road, he could tell it was a shiny black cat with a long tail, and it must have been at least five or six feet long.

Chris Watson and his son have both seen a large black cat, and his son saw it near Tope Road and Cannon Road while he was hunting around two years ago. Watson’s son said it was in the morning when he saw the black cat, which looked like a cougar, cross the road at a trot about 100 feet away.

Watson said he saw a large black cat in 1989 just outside of Luthersville in Meriwether County. He said he saw it at dusk, but he also recognized it as a black cougar, and he said its tail looked like it was three feet long. Watson said he could recognize it as a cougar because he knew someone who used to have one as a pet.

Jody Hobby remembers seeing a large black cat in 2007 while driving with a co-worker on Bear Creek Road near Moreland. Hobby said they both saw the cat at the same time as it jumped across the road in front of them, hitting the road twice as it crossed from a field into the woods.

Hobby said they then went to Carl Smith and Sons building supply in Turin and talked to some of the employees about the sighting. The employees told them they’d also seen the cats before while they were out hunting, so it didn’t surprise them.

“[The cats have] been around for a while,” Hobby said, “whether the authorities think they are or not. They’re just making themselves more well known now.”

Jimmy Davenport remembers seeing what he believes was a large brown Florida panther about 10 years ago, when he was driving on Lower Fayetteville Road into Newnan near where the Benton House residential facility is today. There was construction going on in the area and the workers were burning trees, so the Florida panther may have been spooked by the smoke, he said.

Davenport remembered seeing the animal on one side of the road, and it crossed underneath the road through a culvert. It looked like a German Shepherd, he said, except it had a long tail.

“When you see something in nature like that, you just see it for a second,” Davenport said. “And your brain is still trying to figure out what you saw.”

Davenport is confident it was a Florida panther because, years before that, he was eating at a Ruby Tuesday’s in Peachtree City and someone pulled up with a Florida panther in their car. Out of curiosity, Davenport said he went to check out the animal, and it looked like the animal was being nursed back to health.

He said he always wondered if that was the Florida panther that was shot and killed by a Newnan man in Troup County in 2008.

So far, one of the oldest sightings of a large black cat in Coweta County has been reported by Guy Cox, who believes he saw it in the spring of 1972 or 1973. Cox said he was taking his niece and nephew back to Newnan and turned from Dixon Road onto Highway 34. He saw the animal crossing the road.

At first, he thought the animal was a dog, but he turned his car to shine the headlights on it, and the animal turned around. He then realized it was a black “panther.”

Cox has actually seen a large black cat twice. During the second sighting in the late 1980s, his wife was with him. He said they just turned right from Ishman Ballard Road onto Highway 34, and they were passing the sheds on the left when a large black cat crossed the road.

“We slowed down to watch the cat walk through the folks’ yard as if it owned the place,” Cox said.





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