More than 48 hours after a lynx, bobcat or perhaps a serval was spotted on a Central Islip porch, the feline is still on the lam as of Thursday morning — and no sightings have been reported to authorities.
Reports of the elusive exotic cat first surfaced early Tuesday morning when a resident on Half Acre Road in Central Islip discovered the animal on her front porch. The cat, which is illegal to own in New York, has been spotted in various parts of Central Islip, as well as one report to police that it was spotted eight miles away in West Islip on Boulevard Avenue.
But as of Thursday morning, no new sightings have been reported to Suffolk County police, the Suffolk County SPCA or Humane Long Island.
SPCA Chief Roy Gross and Strong Island Animal Rescue League president Frank Floridia both confirmed that traps have been set in Islip Town, but declined to share specific locations. Gross asked residents to avoid the traps if they do spot them.
John Di Leonardo, president of Humane Long Island, said he had secured placement for the cat at the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Colorado, a refuge for abused, abandoned and neglected big cats.
The breed of the mystery cat is unclear, although Luke Hunter, executive director of the Big Cat Program at the Wildlife Conservation Society, believes it is most likely a Eurasian lynx, a type of cat not native to the Americas. It is native to parts of Europe, Russia and Central Asia.
Laurel Serieys, a small cat expert at Panthera, a global wild cat conservation group, also says the cat is a Eurasian lynx, although it is smaller than the breed typically is. Its spot patterns and ear tufts are distinct features the breed has, she said.
In the wild, the lynx feeds on deer and even rabbits, but in an urban setting, its options could be limited, Serieys said. In captivity, the cat would require a steady diet of whole small mammals, including organ meat and bones. Having enough food options for the cat is a concern, she said.
Eurasian lynxes, which can travel up to 25 miles in a single day, also require significant exercise, which would be difficult to achieve in a residence, she said.
“These exotic cats should not be pets,” she said. “In the wild, they are extremely mobile animals and keeping them in captivity is a sad life for them.”
The animal groups leaders agreed the feline was likely domesticated and was either abandoned or escaped. They are concerned the cat appeared emaciated. Gross believes the cat weighs about 40 pounds.
Anyone who spots the cat is asked to call authorities and take a photo if possible; they are discouraged from approaching the animal.
Strong Island Animal Rescue League can be reached at 631-403-0598. Suffolk County SPCA can be reached at 631-382-7722. The DEC Wildlife Unit may be reached at 631-444-0310 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.