This photo taken by a resident shows the big cat that has been roaming a Detroit neighborhood.(Photo: Detroit Free Press)
Tammy Stables Battaglia, Detroit Free Press
Detroit-- A big cat roaming Detroit's northeast side is dead, according to a feral cat rescue group that had been trying to find it for days.
The body of the 25-pound, 3-year-old Savannah cat named Chum was found in a trash can on Detroit's east side Monday evening, said founder Laura Wilhelm-Bruzek of Paws for the Cause, a feral cat rescue group based in Chesterfield Township, Mich.
A neighbor shot the cat days ago, she said. The all-volunteer nonprofit rescue group and advocates for feral cats had been searching for the cat since Saturday.
"I think people can't just go around shooting things they don't understand," Wilhelm-Bruzek said Tuesday. "I think we need to be a little bit more respectful of the animals and human beings around us. I'd love to see someone look into it and investigate it. But I'm not holding out a lot of hope. This whole thing from the beginning has just been a mess."
Neighbors said they had contacted the Michigan Humane Society and Detroit Police when the cat - called a Savannah - was seen roaming the neighborhood but both declined to investigate.
Paws for a Cause got involved last week, and the cat's owners called the group Monday, Wilhelm-Bruzek said. They said the cat, which did not have a microchip, had gotten out of their home about a month ago through a window.
The rescue group heard that the cat had been shot weren't able to find the cat's body until Monday when a member was shown where the cat had been thrown away, Wilhelm-Bruzek said.
"I simply asked them for the cat's body and they said it was across the street in a garbage can," she said. She was walked to the garbage can, "and the cat - whose name is Chum - was there," she said.
Chum's owners, who had raised the cat since it was 4 months old, were devastated.
"They were hysterical," Wilhelm-Bruzek said, adding that they are having the cat cremated today.
A Savannah is a hybrid between a domesticated housecat and an African serval cat, according to the International Cat Association.
Wilhelm-Bruzek said Chum, about 2 feet tall from floor to head when sitting, was an F2 Savannah, or a second-generation hybrid.
"I don't think it was the size as much as the coloration that scared people," Wilhelm-Bruzek said. Savannah cats have long legs and exotic spots like a small leopard or wildcat, according to the association. They were first introduced to the public in 1997 and are sold for thousands of dollars.
Michigan Humane Society spokesman Ryan McTigue said Tuesday that the agency was unaware of the cat's status.
"That's pretty terrible," McTigue said when told about the cat's fate.