This is a representational image of a cat in a shelter in the Oroville, south of Paradise, California, Nov. 16, 2018. Getty Images/Javier Tovar

A mysterious wild animal, believed to be a new species of a cat-like fox is prowling the Island of Corsica, which is located off the coast of Italy. Described to be a large cat with a busy, ringed tail, a russet coloured belly and short whiskers, the creature sounds very much like the fictitious cat Garfield.

Experts say the cat-fox has similar features to domestic felines. But they have different features too like shorter whiskers, wider ears, bushy tail and canine teeth. The National Hunting and Wildlife Office told Agence France-Presse that the cat-fox, known as ghjattu-volpe in Corsican is longer than a domestic cat. It has larger ears, highly developed canine teeth and a tail with two to four rings and a black tip. The office said the creature is part of their shepherd mythology. “From generation to generation, they told stories of how the forest cats would attack the udders of their ewes and goats," field agent with the wildlife office, Carlu-Antone Cecchini told AFP.

However, scientists working with the office believe the animal is a new species. The office’s chief environmental technician Pierre Benedetti told AFP that they believe the animal to be a wild natural species which was known but not scientifically identified because it is an extremely inconspicious animal with nocturnal habits. Benedetti said this is a wonderful discovery. “By looking at its DNA, we could tell it apart from the European wildcat, Felis silvestris silvestris . Its close to the African forest cat, Felis silvestris lybica but its exact identity is still to be determined," Benedetti told AFP.

The office’s field agent in charge of forest cats, Carlu-Antone Cecchini said the cat-like fox live in remote part of the Island of Corsica where there is water and plant cover offering protection against the golden eagle, its main predator. He said they are yet to find out about the animal’s diet and breeding habits.

Researchers have identified 16 cat-like fox on Corsica. They believe that farmers may have brought the animal to the island in 6500 BC.