Tinicum

Unknown small Cat of Pennsylvania.

Etymology: After the township where one was killed in 1922.

Variant names: Indian devil, Nockamixon cat, Timber cat, Woods cat.

Physical description: Bobcatlike felid. Total length, 30 inches. Shoulder height, 13 inches. Weight, 8.5 pounds. Sandy-gray coat, with some yellow or buff color mixed in. A dark streak extends from the shoulders along the spine to the end of the tail. Tigerlike stripes on the body, legs, and tail. Fluffy winter coat. Said to be noticeably different from a feral domestic cat. Round head. Flat ears. Broad gray face, 7 inches across the ears. Regular black lines on the face. Strong teeth. Stiff, white whiskers. Conspicuous white spot on the throat. Front legs, 17 inches long. Hind legs, 13 inches. Thick, ringed tail, 10-11 inches long, with a black tip.

Behavior: Fights fiercely when cornered.

Habitat: Rocky, wooded hills.

Distribution: Bucks and Fayette Counties, Pennsylvania. Also possibly in southern Illinois.

Significant sightings: Hunters in the early nineteenth century said these cats were plentiful when the first settlers moved in but had become much rarer in the intervening years. Three specimens were caught in Irish Gap, Pennsylvania, in 1857 and 1858 by C. H. Shearer.

A pair of strange wildcats had apparently been uttering terrifying screams at night for three years. On January 16, 1922, after tracking them for several days, Tunis Brady caught the male in a trap near its den in some rocks in Tinicum Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The animal put up a terrific fight, and Brady had to dispatch it with a rifle. The cat was given to State Game Warden Warren Fretz, of Doylestown, who took photographs and made arrangements to have it mounted. It is not known where the specimen is now. At the time, it seemed obvious to local people that it was neither a bobcat nor a feral cat; most favored the theory that it was a European wildcat, either indigenous to the region or introduced from Europe long ago.

Possible explanations:

(1) A Bobcat (Lynx rufus) x feral Domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus) hybrid.

TINICUM CAT 551

(2) A European wildcat (F. s. silvestris) introduced in colonial times.

(3) A long-established regional phenotype of a feral cat population.

(4) An introduced Jaguarundi (Herpailurus yaguarondi), though that animal is not known to be striped. The Jaguarundi is normally found from Paraguay to south Texas but is uncommon throughout its range. Sources: Henry W. Shoemaker, Felis Catus in

Pennsylvania? Being Reports of the Taking ofa Genuine European Wild Cat in Tinicum Township, Bucks County, January 16, 1922 (Altoona, Pa.: Times Tribune Co., 1922); Robert R. Lyman Sr., Amazing Indeed! Strange Events in the Black Forest (Coudersport, Pa.: Potter Enterprise, 1973); Chad Arment, "More Odd 'Wildcat' Reports," North American BioFortean Review 2, no. 2 (2000): 41, http:// www.strangeark.com/nabr/NABR4.pdf.

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