LYNDEN - A "cougar" sighted four times near the Lynden fairgrounds turned out to be a very muscular orange housecat.
A woman snapped photos of the alleged cougar Monday, Aug. 27, near the 1800 block of Front Street. She saw the cat two times, and another person reported seeing a cougar in a different part of town, said Lynden Police Chief Jack Foster. The sightings were first relayed to police Tuesday.
The photos, however, hadn't been forwarded to police as of Wednesday afternoon, when a fourth sighting was reported.
That time an officer was able to get within a few feet of the animal at 3 p.m. and discovered it was, in fact, a big cat - a big domestic cat.
From a distance, Foster acknowledged, the large feline did look like a cougar because of "the way the fur is kind of mottled."
Police don't know the cat's owner, but the cat appeared to be stalking small prey near Front Street. The original witness confirmed it was the same cat she had seen earlier, Foster said.
That would have been the third time in the past two decades a cougar had been seen in the city, Foster recalled. Each time the solitary wild cats wandered toward Lynden in search of water and food during warm summers, and the last one was spotted in the same floodplain, near the Northwest Washington Fair and Event Center.
So the recent case would have been on par with past sightings, and the police chief said it's good the woman took the precaution of reporting it.