TWO witnesses report seeing a big cat near a Chester retail park on the same night.

The sightings of a big cat prowling fields between the Greyhound Retail Park and Blacon were made within 15 minutes of each other on Wednesday, February 12.

Simon Holliday was walking his dog near Gorse Hill playing fields at around 10.15pm when he heard a growl from the hedgerow.

Turning to face it with a torch, he saw a 4ft-long cat “with a great big tail”, leaving both Simon and his dog “frozen in shock”.

After 10 seconds “which seemed like a lifetime”, the animal turned and “bolted” away through the hedgerow.

Reporting the sighting to Puma Watch North Wales after returning home, Simon said: “As I type this I am shaking and my adrenaline is pumping.”

A second report was made to the group - set up to investigate and document reports of "big cats" in North Wales - the latest in a number of reports made about possible sightings in Cheshire.

At about the same time, Nathan Smith was finishing his shift at Asda and preparing to walk home.

Satellite image of the Greyhound Retail Park and Blacon. Witnesses say a big black cat was seen in the fields between the shopping park and estate. Image: Google

Satellite image of the Greyhound Retail Park and Blacon. Witnesses say a big black cat was seen in the fields between the shopping park and estate. Image: Google

Passing through the “fields behind the store, near Gorse Hill” at around 10.30pm, he heard a rustle and turned to see “a rather large black cat” that he described as “so long and muscular”.

He said the creature was just 10 metres away from him.

He froze in place as the creature darted away “like it didn’t want to be seen”.

He told Puma Watch “I’ve worked there and walked home after every shift and seen foxes, small cats, dogs etc but never anything like this, it was so long and muscular, after a Google search it was definitely what looks to be a puma.”

These sightings following several encounters in Chester and Ellesmere Port, including a report of a cat-like creature in a park in Ellesmere Port.

Some of the sightings have turned out to be of large domestic cats - such as Sheldon the 6kg pussycat who was mistaken for the "Puma of Pontybodkin" last month.

But other encounters remain unexplained, with witnesses convinced they have seen a puma, black panther, or lynx.

There have been several sightings of a big cat on Chester Meadows.

In December, delivery rider Richard Evans photographer a mystery creature while returning from making a McDonald's delivery.

And, in January, a witness reported seeing a “large but slender” black big cat “with a long tail that it carried quite high” at Ince Marshes, close to Ellesmere Port’s Stanlow oil refinery.

Puma Watch founder Tony Jones said their is increasing evidence of small populations of big cats in the UK.

He said: "Big cats such as pumas are solitary with a hunting range of dozens of miles. They’re mostly spotted in Snowdonia and the Clwydian hills but reports of sightings in urban locations some distance from these areas are becoming more frequent.

"As seen with Llandundo’s now-famous goats, who have taken to roaming the town’s deserted streets during the coronavirus lockdowns, it’s likely that the reduced levels of human activity over the last year is encouraging big cats to roam further from the hills into more populated areas.

"When big cats were banned as pets in the 1970s, it was legal to release them into the countryside to avoid expensive rehoming costs. Owners from across the UK travelled to areas like Wales to release their cats in the remote environment, where small but significant populations have thrived ever since."