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'Big Cat' Causing Stir In Detroit Is Shot Dead

DETROIT (WWJ) - An exotic-looking "big cat" is no longer roaming a northwest Detroit neighborhood.

Several residents called animal control officers after seeing the feline -- by some reports described as nearly four feet tall -- roaming the streets.

"It got out of its owner's home about a month ago through a screened-in window. So, we have been out there day and night, trying to set traps out to get this cat," Laura Wilhelm-Bruzek, with Paws for the Cause Feral Cat Rescue, told WWJ Newsradio 950.

Wilhelm-Bruzek said she spoke to reporters on Saturday who said the cat was killed.

"They gave me a picture of a cat that was deceased, that was shot by a neighbor. So, we already had a good suspicion that the cat was deceased," she said.

Wilhelm-Bruzek said after word spread about the big cat sightings, she was contacted by people who claimed to be the animal's owner.

"Yesterday, we finally were contacted by the people that thought this might be their cat. They had heard that I had pictures of the deceased cat and wanted to know if it was their cat," she said.

Wilhelm-Bruzek met up with the couple, traded pictures and determined they were in fact the cat's owners.

"They were just hysterical, I mean, they're heartbroken. They had to watch this unfold over the news and all the lies with people saying this cat is dangerous, you know, when those of us that know the breed know that it was not. I mean, the neighbors have pictures of them petting the cat," she said.

Wilhelm-Bruzek said the feline is a Savannah, which is a hybrid domestic cat breed.

"It was simply ignorance. A Savannah cat is a cross between an African Serval and a domestic cat, and that is it. They're larger cats, they're very beautiful, they have a lot of stripes and spots, which I think was more intimidating to people than even the size of the cat, because the cat wasn't overly huge, about 25 pounds and maybe when it was sitting was probably two feet tall. But they're very sweet animals, they're kind of like the dog of the cat world" she said.

Wilhelm-Bruzek said rumors that the cat is an exotic animal are partly true, but that doesn't mean the breed is dangerous.

"They're totally legal pets. As long as they're cared for and socialized properly from a young age, they're wonderful animals. They're legal exotic pets," she said.

Wilhelm-Bruzek said the situation is one that ultimately could have been prevented, and reminded pet owners to always make sure their animals are in secure closures.

MORE: Big Cat Has Detroit Area Residents On Alert

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