MYSTERY surrounds the sighting of a large black cat which was apparently seen on the A38 at Stone.

The jet black creature was spotted coming out of Stone Cricket Club grounds, when it crossed the road in front of a passing vehicle.

The animal was said to be between two and three feet long – about the size of a Border Collie – with a long stretched body and feline head.

Frank Tonbridge, a black cat expert who has spent many years tracking black cats in the region, says that he has received dozens of reports of sightings in recent weeks.

"When I got the call about the cat in Stone I wasn’t at all surprised," said Frank.

"The driver had been heading back to Dursley at the time and described it as ‘soft and silent as a barn owl’s flight’. This is a typical description.

"There was another sighting close to the car park at Coaley Peak just before Christmas – I think this may well be the same cat.

"The consensus is that this is a hybrid type of cat, which has been breeding in wild in Britain for up to 50 years."

Frank added: "I believe the Dangerous Animals Act to 1976 had a part to play. So many animals - including pumas and panthers - were simply dumped by their owners and they have been breeding ever since.

"The fact that we have so many deer around here also aids their survival. I have come to the conclusion that most of these animals are probably lying out in quarries and caves underground – and we’ve got plenty of those around here."

The sighting was reported in the early hours of Friday, February 13.

Pete Lavis, of Stone Cricket Club, was also not surprised to hear reports of the big cat in the grounds of the club.

"I haven’t seen it myself," said Pete," but I do know that a couple of people at the club saw a similar animal last summer, only that time it was the other side, close to the deer park."

If anyone has seen the elusive black cat, or any unexplained deer kill, call Frank Tonbridge on 07711 476715.