A ring-tailed cat was rescued from a pantry in a Longmont residence on Friday morning, an unusual sighting given the animal’s nocturnal and elusive nature.
Despite its name and similar size, the ring-tailed cat is not in the feline family and is actually closely related to raccoons, according to Kara Van Hoose, public information officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
In fact, that is what Longmont Animal Control thought it was responding to at 9 a.m. Friday, said Allison Rivas, the Animal Control Supervisor for Longmont. But upon inspection, they found out that the animal was actually a ring-tailed cat in the pantry.
“The call that came in originally said that a baby raccoon was under the stove,” said Rivas. “A trap was left there overnight and it was in the trap on Saturday. We only use humane traps to clarify. Then, the little critter was taken to Greenwood to be checked out.”
Mysti Tatro, the community relations manager for the Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, clarified that while the rehabilitation center doesn’t typically relocate its patients, this was an unusual scenario.
A #RingtailedCat was found in a pantry in downtown Longmont. After a call to Animal Control, it was brought in for evaluation. Luckily, it was not sick or injured, so with the help of #ColoradoParksandWildlife, we were able to find a perfect site to release it.#GreenwoodWildlife pic.twitter.com/eIedeoECFT
— Greenwood Wildlife (@Greenwood_CO) January 22, 2024
“Animal control called us because they didn’t want to release it back into this person’s neighborhood,” Tatro said. “We don’t usually relocate animals, but this is a special case where it wouldn’t thrive in the environment that it was found in. We had permission from (Colorado Parks and Wildlife) to find a more ideal spot for the ring-tailed cat.”
After the rehabilitation center evaluated the animal and found that it was uninjured, they released it into a space better equipped for the rural creature.
Police did not specify where the animal was captured or released.
Rivas stated that ring-tail cat sightings are quite rare, even though the species is fairly common in Colorado.
“It’s pretty rare… as far as I know this is the first one we’ve had a call for in the city of Longmont, at least in the past five years… none of us had ever seen one before.”
Alie Moreno, education and front desk coordinator for the rehabilitation center, attributed the lack of ring-tail sightings to its nocturnal nature.
“Our wildlife officer who works the Longmont district has never seen one personally – he has worked in the district for decades,” said Moreno. “ I would call them elusive because they’re nocturnal.”
Tatro said that the last time a ring-tailed cat was taken in by the rehabilitation center was in 2017.
“They are not as urban of a species and are nocturnal,” said Tatro. “We don’t have a handle on how many are in the state for that reason.”