06/22/2014 04:33 EDT | Updated 08/22/2014 05:59 EDT

Oversized alley cat creates cougar scare near Metrotown

Burnaby couple Jason McIntyre and Amrita Sandhu got a rare treat Saturday morning when they spotted something unusual in their back alley, just a short walk from Metrotown.

"We could hear the crows going crazy outside and my wife went, opened the door and said, 'Hey look, there's a coyote out there walking down the alley,'" McIntyre said.

The couple watched from the balcony of their Newton Street apartment as the animal — definitely not a coyote — made its way down the alley.

Fearing it was a cougar walking through the streets of Burnaby, Jason called the RCMP.

"Burnaby detachment sent an officer out. He told me it was a coyote. I said let's look at the footage that I took of it. He instantly said, "Okay that's a big cat," and he called animal control," McIntyre said.

B.C. conservation officer Jack Trudgian arrived at the scene a few hours later, reviewed the footage, and determined the big cat wasn't a cougar.

"Definitely, this is a coastal bobcat," he said.

"See the walk, the stride? We can rule out it's a cougar because of the tail, the colour and the size," he said.

Trudgian said only a handful are seen in B.C. every year, and hardly any are seen in Metro Vancouver.

"There's not very many in the Lower Mainland, but they do come off the mountains. Sometimes they'll come out from Port Moody and Coquitlam area — they'll follow the railway tracks around the north side of Burnaby Mountain."

Unlike cougars, bobcats have no history of attacking humans, but Trudgian says to treat them like any wildlife.

"You should never run from a wild animal because it could trigger a reaction. The best thing is to let it know you are there. Speak softly to it, don't scream [and] back away slowly," he said.