'Chiselled jaw, big shoulders and long tail' - Dubai resident tells of close encounter with big cat
Eilidh Shaw reported the sighting to the authorities, who are looking for the creature
A Dubai resident told of how she spotted a big cat in her garden, sparking a full-scale search by the authorities.
Eilidh Shaw, 39, who lives in the Meadows, told The National she saw the creature prowling near her swimming pool on Saturday evening.
Ms Shaw, her husband and three young children – aged six, four and six months – watched as the animal strolled just metres away, before slipping out through the fence.
To me it just looked like a weird, oversized cat with a very strange body build
The cat, thought to be a young panther or jaguar, then reappeared in the garden the next evening, on Sunday, which is when Ms Shaw shot a video and reported it to Dubai Municipality.
“This very odd, large cat walked past the pool,” she said.
“To me it just looked like a weird, oversized cat with a very strange body build. It had a chiselled jaw, big shoulders and a slim back and long tail.
“It was big enough that it caught my attention but not big enough that I felt it was an exotic wild animal.
"It wasn’t fazed by us being there one bit.”
Less than an hour after reporting the sighting to Dubai Municipality on Sunday, she received a call saying the animal welfare officers were investigating the claim.
After forwarding the video clip to the municipality, the lead co-ordinator visited the site and said it was “unlikely to be a domestic cat” because of the size of the prints.
“They were on it straight away and alerted security in the area. They were very responsive and have taken the report very seriously,” she said.
“The police and municipality officers were very vigilant and they set a humane trap just outside the garden, on a path alongside the nearby lake, with food inside to try and catch the cat.
"The animal welfare officer said because it had passed through our garden several times, it was obviously using it as a path, so it could return."
For now, Ms Shaw said they were staying indoors and keeping the children out of the garden.
She said she sent the video on a small WhatsApp group, in good faith, to see if people could identify what breed the cat was, and unfortunately it caused a big stir and so much speculation.
On Wednesday morning, the trap was still empty but the family was being kept up to date with the search progress by the authorities.
Dubai Police officers used drones to scan the Springs and Meadows neighbourhood on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Officials advised residents to exercise caution and to call 999 if they spot the creature, but said there was no need for panic.
Updated: May 21, 2021 09:12 AM