Housecat or big cat? Dog-killer's reputation grows in Harrison County

Harrison County residents think this creature, spotted on a surveillance camera, killed a large dog last month.
Harrison County residents think this creature, spotted on a surveillance camera, killed a large dog last month.

CYNTHIANA — A Harrison County restaurant owner said she's heard people describe the mysterious creature as everything from "a lion to a cougar."

Others think it might be a bobcat.

A Kentucky Tech teacher who lives in Harrison County said her students refer to the movie Napoleon Dynamite, in which the title character sketches his favorite animal: a "liger," which might have magical powers.

The teacher, Tina Swinford, said she doesn't know what's prowling around Tim Humphries' home about five miles west of Cynthiana. Like many others in the area, she's seen the pictures in the local newspaper and on television. Her conclusion: "I don't think it's a kitty cat."

Humphries, who lives on Ky. 32 West, said something attacked his dog twice, July 13 and July 26. The dog, a full-blooded, 85-pound collie named Apollo, died nine days after the second attack.

Humphries said Apollo never left his yard and an area behind his barn. Humphries said he saw a large animal on July 31, about a week after the second attack, as he waited with a rifle. But the animal was spooked after a dog howled.

Humphries said the large cat's body resembles a lion, although its head does not. He said he thinks the animal might be some type of "hybrid."

"I know it's still out there," Humphries said. "Some child is going to get attacked and killed."

But law enforcement officials have declared that the animal, caught on video and in still pictures, is a domestic cat.

"We've been confident of that for about a week," Harrison County Sheriff's Detective Paul Olin said.

Olin said a Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources expert looked at the photos and agreed that the animal in question was a domestic cat. The fish and wildlife official could not be reached for comment.

Humphries' story has found its way into restaurants and cafes across Harrison County and traveled across county lines. For about a week, Olin said, the sheriff's office received two or three calls an hour about the animal, and people were invited into the office to view the pictures themselves.

Olin said 95 percent of the people who saw the pictures "had the same conclusion we did."

If that's the case, Mary Todd, owner of Biancke's restaurant, might count herself in the minority.

"I just don't think a regular cat can do something like that to a dog," Todd said.

Todd said a lot of diners have laughed about the mysterious animal. But others, especially those who live near Humphries, are concerned.

Swinford said she wasn't worried about the cat, but she would be anxious about her children's safety if she lived in the area.

"I would not want them out," Swinford said.

The sheriff's office does not plan to pursue the cat anymore, but Humphries said he will search every day until he finds and kills the animal that attacked Apollo.

"They don't want to alarm the public," Humphries said of police and fish and wildlife officials. "But I want to alert the public."