A BIG cat was spotted prowling around a Lancashire housing estate on a summer afternoon, it has been revealed.

The sighting of the four-foot long creature, described as a cross between a tiger, cheetah and leopard, was one of 26 reported to Lancashire Police in the last five years.

The caller told officers the animal, which had a long tail and ‘tiger spots’, had been running down back streets on the Brunshaw estate, in Burnley.

Suspecting it was a Bengal cat, or ocelot, police contacted the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to find out if any were licensed in the area.

The out-of-place animal was spotted in Brunshaw Avenue, on a June afternoon, but no further sightings were reported.

In October last year, a security guard on a night shift at premises in Lower Darwen told officers he saw a large golden cat, resembling a puma, behind a fence.

Reports also feature sightings of black panthers in Hoghton, a wild white cat in Hoddlesden, and pumas in Turton and Waterfoot also feature in the reports.

In Leagram, near Chipping, a man contacted police on four separate occasions in a six-month period to report having seen a puma-like cat with a head the size of a football.

On one occasion, he said, the six-foot long animal, which had been following him around, even growled at him.

Almost half of the 26 sightings reported to police were in East Lancashire locations, suggesting the area is something of a big cat ‘hot spot’.

The details were revealed to the Lancashire Telegraph under the Freedom of Information Act.

However, the list does not include reports of lions, or jaguars, because searches under those words on police systems brought up a lot of unrelated information.

The 1976 Dangerous Wild Animals Act made it illegal to keep big cats as pets and may have led to some being released by owners.

Click on the link below to see the full details of the Freedom of Information request.