Sarah Flatt, 23, of Florham Park, said she snapped photos of the feline Tuesday when she saw it walking alone down a city street, The Daily Record, Parsippany, N.J., reported Thursday.
"It was definitely not a house cat. I wouldn't have stopped to take pictures of a house cat," Flatt said. "This thing had smooth, shiny fur and spots like a leopard. Its legs were striped."
Police Lt. Dan Worts said experts identified the 20-pound animal as a Savannah cat. He said permits are not required to keep Savannah cats in New Jersey.
Worts said officers tracked down the owner of the cat, who told them the feline had escaped from its outdoor enclosure and later returned on its own.
"It has been out a few times, which is a violation of local ordinances. You can't let your pets run at large," Worts said. "But at this time it appears to be a legal, exotic-domestic house mix. We do not feel this falls under the potentially dangerous species act."