(New Delhi) A leopard-like animal seen on live television Sunday night during the Indian government’s swearing-in was actually “a cat,” police say.

The animal ran through the heavily guarded presidential palace in the heart of the capital New Delhi, passing within a whisker of the red-carpeted steps, just above where dozens of newly elected lawmakers were sitting, including the first Minister Narendra Modi.

Apparently unnoticed at the time, as soldiers stood at attention and a lawmaker signed documents after taking an oath of allegiance to the Constitution, the creature was spotted by viewers.

Local television channel NDTV called the animal “mysterious”, posting a viral clip of the sand-coloured beast, taken from television footage of the event.

The animal appeared for less than four seconds on screen, moving in shadows and making it difficult to identify spots.

But Delhi Police on Monday categorically rejected any “wild animal” theory. “The animal filmed is an ordinary domestic cat,” the police said in a message on X. “Don’t believe these idle rumors.”

A crowd of thousands, including South Asian heads of state, attended the ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan Palace, and millions more watched on television.

Indian media was divided over the long-tailed animal.

The Hindustan Times described him as “a four-legged furry friend.”

The Times of India went out on a limb and called it a “cat-like creature.” But the newspaper also quotes an unnamed official from Delhi’s Forest and Wildlife department, who said “the animal looks like a dog or a cat.”

Street dogs and cats are common in Delhi, but are not of the apparent size seen in the video.

Leopards are also seen from time to time on the outskirts of the city.

The expansive grounds of the Presidential Palace adjoin the Delhi Ridge Forest.

The last Asian cheetah to roam the subcontinent was said to have been hunted in 1947 by an Indian prince. Last year, cheetahs from Namibia were released into Kuno National Park, a reserve in central India.