Big cat report from Henley on Thames

Tuesday 7th September 2021

Big cat comeback – Henley Standard

“A BIG cat described as being like a panther has been spotted near Woodcote. Alan Bertram says he was travelling along the A4074, near the Oratory School”…

I only ever went to Henley on Thames once, and that was many years ago, to stand in awe outside Friar Park, the stately home designed by the legendary (not to say notorious) Sir Frank Crisp and then lived in by the late George Harrison. However, this sleepy Oxfordshire town has now become the epicenter of a series of new mystery cat reports. The most recent sighting was made by Nigel Spiers, who was driving to work when he was what he assumes was a melanistic Leopard.  

Mr Spiers, 45, of Farm Road, Henley, said: “He was sitting down and just looking at me and didn’t seem at all bothered I was there. He just stood up, ducked his head and, with two loping strides, was through the hedge and into the field.”

He said the animal was about the size of a labrador.

“It was jet black,” said Mr Spiers. “I know my wildlife and it was not a dog. I am certain it was a big cat. It looked just like a panther. It had the most beautiful tail, which was like that of a cheetah, designed to help balance when running”.

I do not want to be blase about this or any other sightings, but although I am certain that there are big cats wild in the British countryside, because I have seen them on two occasions as have Richard Freeman and various other CFZ luminaries over the years, I am far from sure that all these reports can be genuinely of various members of big cat species. However, as Henley on Thames has more rockstars per square inch than one could shake a shitty stick at, and it has been suggested by those in the know that some of these animals escaped into the British countryside after being kept as pets by the rock and roll glitterati, this might well be a part of the country where those things can be seen more often. 

Check out other British mystery cat reports HERE

Jonathan Downes
Cryptozoologist, naturalist, musician, singer, composer, poet, novelist and Director of the Centre for Fortean Zoology since 1992. Jon was born in Portsmouth in 1959 and spent his infancy in Nigeria and his childhood in Hong Kong. His wife Corinna died of cancer in 2020, leaving him with two stepdaughters and a six year old granddaughter called Evelyn.