There's a panther in the house

Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
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Experts will tell you that there is no such thing as a black panther. Scientifically speaking, they do not exist (panthers, not the experts).

Experts know, because they study these things extensively. Black panthers are, in actuality, jaguars, leopards or perhaps even bobcats, depending on which continent you reside, born with the trademark ebony fur and haunting yellow-green eyes.

Confusion about the panther designation is understandable. While the wild felines in question are known by their common names, the genus for big cats like leopards and jaguars (again we're going scientific here) is Panthera.

Given this expert scientific terminology, I can see how the term "black panther" came to be. Thank goodness the experts can tell us what is and isn't real when it comes to black panthers, because if it were up to me I'd tell you I had one living at my house.

Black panthers (which are leopards without spots, really, but let's pretend for a moment) are distinguished hunters. I have witnessed this skill firsthand.

By night, when panthers benefit from the darkness of camouflage, my panther hunts wild, fast-flying prey, leaping from the couch to capture one mid-air and chomp it to pieces in a single pantheric bite. No need for a fly swatter when you have a black panther living with you.

Black panthers are quick and agile with a keen sense of hearing and sight.

By day, my panther chases bullets, catching them in her mouth and wrestling them to the carpeted floor with her sharp canine teeth. This is no small feat. Foam bullets from a toy Nerf gun soar through the air at speeds upwards of 15 miles per hour.

Black panthers often conceal themselves and creep up on their prey. When they get close, they leap forward and grab their victim in a surprise attack.

The laundry pile twitches and my panther jumps out at me from underneath the clean underwear. She retreats back to her clothing cave with only her golden eyes peeking out. I understand she feels invisible and invincible and I leave the folding until later. No need to be eaten by my panther today.

In the wild, black panther habitats include the forest (both rain and regular), mountains and deserts. They sleep in trees.

My panther doesn't get out much. Sometimes she jumps into the linen closet to catnap on the towels. Other times she sits on the windowsill, bird watching.

Female panthers weigh anywhere from 50 to 170 pounds and range in length from three to six feet.

My panther must be an infant because she's about five pounds and her length can be measured in mere inches. She'll need to catch countless houseflies and dodge a lot Nerf bullets if she's going to grow as big as her in-the-wild cousins.

Sounds made by panthers include growls, hisses and snarls. They are ferocious cats and should be feared.

My panther purrs. She also emits a decidedly unfeline sound, which is best described as a chirp. Maybe she's attempting a birdcall to boost her feather-watching efforts. When she's under the laundry pile, however, she's nothing but a predator and I'm sure I should be terrified of her overall ferociousness.

There's no such thing as a black panther. Experts will tell you they are merely darker versions of other cats. Still, their legend continues. Science, technology and DNA may prove they don't exist, but try telling that to a black panther.

Panthers have long, flexible tails that are used for balance and to communicate emotions.

My panther walks with her tail straight up in the air. The tip is curved downward in an arc, so it resembles a question mark. Perhaps she is asking the experts, "If black panthers don't exist, then how do you explain me?"

Good question, little kitten. I'd like to know the answer to that one myself.

Jill Pertler, award-winning syndicated columnist and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" is collecting fans on Facebook on her Slices of Life page. E-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; or visit her website at http://marketing-by-design.home.mchsi.com/.