|was i right in not buying the house...do you think?
or was i being overparanoid?
Well, to put it bluntly, IMO only a real nut case would keep a cougar in their back yard, and particularly in a neighborhood. When properly housed it would be in a much more isolated area, in a substantial enclosure with climb barriers or a full roof, and the whole thing would be inside another larger enclosure. I absolutely would NOT
buy a house in the suburbs next door to someone keeping a cougar in what sounds like a big dog kennel. Next to a legitimate sanctuary or zoo is another thing entirely, but then these usually have large buffer areas around their perimeter fence in addition to their safety measures. A small child running near the cage falling and crying could be all it takes to set off the prey drive in that cougar, leading to some rather awful consequences. I think you did the right thing.
|So there would be nothing to do to help the Cat
This really depends on the local laws. A cougar in a kennel in the suburbs seems awfully dangerous to me. Then again, most local areas only enact the laws after some incident which brings people's attention to the problem. You could call the local county government and find out the laws, and express your concerns to animal control. (Be diplomatic - animal control does not write the laws, the elected officials do. Animal control can assess if there's an immediate public danger - but that could be a tough judgement call based on community norms. If they already know about the situation then arguing with them will not help.) The neighbors in the community where this animal lives are likely very concerned themselves.
Be careful about going to the press or trying to start mass letter writing or email campaigns. I know many people try to use this as a first line of offense, but in spite of some high profile but very limited success stories, this much more often creates a backlash and resistance from the local authorities.