The first possible sightings were recorded in 1959, when police received a number of reports of big cats in the Farnham area, near the Surrey/Hampshire border. Two further sightings were recorded in 1962 by water board personnel in Hampshire, while in the winter of 1962-1963, a "cat-like beast" was seen at Bushylease Farm, near Crondall in Hampshire. When a police officer sighted the supposed Shooters Hill Cheetah in 1963, media interest turned to other big cat sightings.
In August 1964, a bullock at Bushylease was found, severely lacerated. Following press coverage, numerous other reports of contact with the animal, dubbed the "Surrey Puma", came in, ranging from the fanciful to some taken seriously by the police. At Godalming Police Station alone, 362 reports were received in a two-year period. The station also kept a cast of a massive paw print on display, identified as that of a puma by London Zoo, although several reports noted that its size implied an extremely large specimen and that there were distinct differences between it and the prints of other pumas. The investigation was not closed until the summer of 1967.
In August 1966, a former police photographer took a grainy shot which he claimed showed the Surrey Puma in Worplesdon. In 1968, a farmer claimed to have shot a puma, but could not provide any evidence. Sightings gradually tailed off, although paw prints found in the snow in 1970 generated a flurry of further reports. In 1984, hair samples taken at Peaslake were identified as puma.
In 1967 the children's novelist Monica Edwards wrote a fictionalized account of the Surrey Puma entitled "The Wild One".
In 1983, an alien big cat featured in The Archers, and the Beast of Exmoor entered the news. Sightings of the Surrey Puma were again recorded, and have continued to the present day.