Went for a ride starting at the Salmon Falls bridge area and headed east on the north side of river up the long rocky climb then onto the 'natural roller coaster' that gets you into the heart of the American River Trail for that area. About 3-4 miles in (I think it was shortly after that fallen tree section from last year - now the tree is removed) I startled a cat that took off down the trail. I was going about 20mph and it distanced me and went around a corner. It wasn't mountain lion sized so after a second of mental adjustment to what I had seen I decided to pursue and caught sight of the cat after about 30 seconds. Still bounding down the trail.
This second sighting confirmed that this was larger than a housecat. Probably would have came up to my knees (maybe 24") at it's shoulder and about 40 lbs, dark brown/black. It's strides suggested a fairly powerful animal - here again it was clear it was not a housecat. The tail was not 'bobbed' like a bobcat. It was long, one thickness and kind of strong looking.
As it realized I had chosen pursuit and closed in it darted into the woods and abandoned the trail. This was the only time I got a chance to see the head - a profile shot. Seemed to have some black/brown striping in the facial area. Not as much as a dark tabby cat would have - but not a solid color in the face.
Wasn't a housecat (bigger), wasn't a mountain lion or cougar (smaller than that). Wasn't a bobcat. An online search suggests possibly a Jaguarundi - but they are generally South and Latin American cats.
Curious if others have come across such an animal along the American River - or if you see Bigfoot tell him I found his cat.
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