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Exotic 'Savannah Cat' Found Roaming The Streets Of Paterson

PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- An exotic feline was resting Thursday, after being found out and about, prowling around Passaic County.

Snuggled up inside a cage at Wildlife Freedom Animal Rescue in Wanaque, was a newly acquired, exotic Savannah cat.

It was picked up Thursday morning, by animal control after it was found behind a pool on Mill Street in Paterson.

Residents saw the spotted animal -- unsure exactly what kind of cat it was.

"I cannot believe what I see, and I ask her look at this, and I saw it's not a regular cat, I don't know what it is," one resident said.

"That is not a regular cat, that is something like a puma," another added.

A Savannah cat is a hybrid between a domestic cat and the serval -- a large, wild cat found in Africa.

Lysa DeLaurentis, founder of All Humane Animal Rescue, said the large cats which can be double or triple the size of a house are legal pets as long as it's at least one percent domestic cat.

"Just look at it, it looks like a wild cat from Africa, so I think they should have to have a license for it," DeLaurentis said.

Bob Considine of the Department of Environmental Protection told WCBS 880's Kelly Waldron that the cats are not regulated by the state.

"It wouldn't be something that's considered potentially dangerous," Considine said.

The Savannah -- still recovering -- had to be tranquilized by animal control officers in order to be captured.

One man claimed to know its owner, and said the cat escaped.

"He left the window open and went back in. Everybody know him, it's always on the window. Real nice cat," he said.

CBS2 tried to reach the owner by phone, but he hung up.

Savannah cats can be very expensive to purchase -- ranging in price from about $1,000 to up to $30,000 -- so the animal rescue said they will require extensive proof of ownership before releasing the cat to anyone.

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