Morgan said he saw a mountain lion years ago in the wild in the Sierra Nevada and doubted that there would be one in Georgetown. His technicians pointed out several signs indicating that it wasn’t a mountain lion.
The feline had stripes on its tail. Its paws were too small, and so was its head. Plus, its body wasn’t thick enough, given that mountain lions typically weigh about 150 pounds, Morgan said.
“We were like, ‘A mountain lion in Georgetown. Really?’ ” he said. “We were looking at it, and we were saying: ‘No way. It’s just a cat.’ ”
Minutes later, Morgan’s office got a call from a woman who lives in Georgetown who said it was her cat, Cookie.
“She said: ‘Listen, that’s not a mountain lion. That’s my cat, Cookie,' ” Morgan recalled. Why the woman called her cat’s veterinarian is unclear, and attempts to reach her Tuesday were unsuccessful.
He said she told him she recognized Cookie by the markings on his tail seen in the surveillance video.
“The thing that slammed the door on it was she called out of the blue,” Morgan said. He and his staff laughed and then called NBC 4 and told them they should “update their story.”
Morgan said he had looked at Cookie previously for a routine checkup and recalled him as “a nice cat.” He said the owner had told him she’d gotten the cat from a shelter.
He was “just long, not that heavy,” Morgan recalled of Cookie.
Cookie became popular on social media after Giulia di Marzo, a District lawyer, posted video from her home’s security camera on a neighborhood blog. It showed a large cat jumping onto her fence Sunday morning.
Di Marzo wrote: “Does not look like a domestic cat. Looks a lot like a mountain lion.” She asked residents in the neighborhood to help identify it.
On Monday, city officials, wildlife biologists, experts at the National Zoo and the Humane Rescue Alliance in D.C. weighed in on the video, saying that it depicted nothing more than a domestic cat.
Tommy Wells, director of D.C.'s Department of Energy and Environment, said Monday that city wildlife biologists determined that it was not a mountain lion. Mountain lions, Wells said, don’t have stripes on their tails, and the proportions of the animal seen on video are “magnified by the camera.”
Living near Rock Creek Park, di Marzo said she’s used to seeing deer and the occasional red fox but hadn’t seen such a large catlike animal. She said she and some neighbors became worried about their pets. Di Marzo has a 13-pound cat named Socrates that sometimes goes outside.
She posted on the neighborhood blog that if the large cat belonged to someone in the neighborhood, she hoped to “rule out that it’s something more dangerous.”
On Tuesday, di Marzo said she was surprised to hear that the cat had an owner in the neighborhood because she hadn’t seen Cookie before. Since her posting and the media reports, she said, she’s gotten more than a dozen calls and emails, including people wanting to convince her it was a mountain lion.
“It was such an innocent blog post that went so crazy,” she said. “All we wanted is for someone to say, ‘That’s our neighbor’s cat.’ I do hope it’s Cookie.”