A MOGGY sparked a police hunt in Grays yesterday, amid fears it was a lion cub.

A police officer visited Thameside Junior and Infant school, in Manor Road, and informed bemused staff he was investigating a sighting of a big cat on the premises that morning.

The sighting had been reported at 8am by builder Graham Bowers, 61, from Grays, who said the cat, sitting on the school bins sunning itself, was about three foot long from nose to tail.

Head teacher Christine Pumfrey, who was in the school at the time, said they were not concerned, after the panic about a lioness on the loose in Clacton on Sunday night turned out to caused by a large domestic cat.

She said: “A very nice police offIcer turned up at the school and explained they’d had reports of a lion on the premises.

“We weren’t worried because we knew the sighting in Clacton had turned out to be nothing.

“The officer was very calm and professional, and told us he had been involved in the Clacton search.

“He did a search of the school grounds and found a normal domestic cat, it was definitely not a lion.

“We know the cat in question, it’s always around the school and is no bigger than a normal cat.”

The Gazette sent a reporter down to the school, which is still closed for the summer holidays, but there was no trace of the fearsome feline to be found.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “We were contacted at 8am on Tuesday following reports that a large cat had been spotted in Cherry Tree Close in Grays.

“Officers arrived and found a large domestic cat.

“Words of advice were issued to the informant.”

Holidaymakers at a caravan site in St Osyth, near Clacton-on-Sea, called police at about 7pm on Sunday after spotting what they thought was a lioness in a field.

Police initially warned residents to stay indoors, and thirty officers carried out extensive searches over the next 24 hours, even bringing in heat seeking equipment, but no trace of a lion was found.

A monster moggy called Teddy Bear, a 3ft long American Longhair breed who often frequents the field, is now thought to be the pet who prompted the panic.