See the Hunt for killer cat is launched, Snarling puma leaves farmer frozen in fear, Bill in big cat scare and Still no proof of the elusive big cat for background on this photo. The disc is a £1 coin.
Initially, the paw print was thought to be that of a puma, but zoological experts were unable to indentify it and police said they believed it was more likely to be a dog.
Christina Smith, Scottish Big Cats
This track is fairly distorted, but I would guess that its more likely a dog. The toe-nails seem to be visible and the pads appear to be shaped more dog-like. Often the claws can be seen in cat tracks but they are usually more separated from the pads. Ordinarily, the pads of a feline are more defined than that of a dog.
I've attached a photo of a tiger track which shows some example of the definition.
Ben Willis, Scottish Big Cats
Regards the prints taken by farmer Bill Carswell after chasing a big cat on his farm. While I respect opinions on the prints. One thing that I cannot fathom is that this man was close enough to the animal to determine its sex, he is in no doubt as to what he had seen at very close quarters was a large black cat. 'experts in Britain confirmed the tracks as Puma, (although again the animal was black) Bill Carswell actually saw the animal slip and slide on the muddy embankment when these tracks were made.
Just a thought.
I think it's the same old story - claw marks were seen so it had to be dog, dog, dog despite the fact it was on soft muddy ground. I know that if I had claws I'd extend them for a better grip.
George Markie, Scottish Big Cats
I know Bill Carswell also lost a lot of sheep around that time too.
As for the tracks I agree with both you and Marks comments and we also have to take into account a) He is a Farmer and has Sheep Dogs, probably a few as well as b) the cat would be in a hell of a hurry as George said to get away and would extract its claws for grip if need be plus as you stated the cat could have lept a distance leaving little or no tracks distinguishable.
Guess we will never know.
Mike Inglis, Scottish Big Cats
The existance of dog tracks in an area where a big cat has been seen doesn't mean that the animal was a dog. Dog tracks are everywhere and the fact that one is gathered doesn't necessarily mean there was no cat there.
In most cases, people will elect to cast the more patent prints often ignoring the more latent ones. Dogs will leave more obvious prints where a cat will not.
In the case of a fleeing cougar, I would think it would be extremely difficult to find even one clear track. These cats are capable of leaping some thirty feet and rarely land flat-footed.
In any case, I would be reluctant to dispute someone's claim of seeing a big cat simply on the basis of an existing dog track.
Ben Willis, Scottish Big Cats
I'm inclined to agree with Ben. The track definately looks like that of a dog. Even though the ground is obviously muddy, I feel that the nail marks would be nowhere near as long if it was a cat print.
I think when we ask people etc. to identify tracks we give them the full account. This fleeing puma was actually stopped on the slippery hill, I just find it hard to fathom for a large cat a few feet away from a person to leave prints then suddenly this cat becomes a dog.
In their guide to distinguishing between puma and dog tracks, Shawn Smallwood and Lee Fitzhugh state 'We never saw a lion track that included claw marks but we were told by professional trackers that they occur, and some authors have recorded their occurrence (Downing 1979, Shaw, 1983). We did encounter dog tracks that had no claw marks, including tracks from 2 of the 19 dogs in our quantitative analysis. Those who have observed claw marks in lion tracks reported that they are much thinner than claw marks in dog tracks. Therefore, the presence or absence of claw marks and their relative widths in a track is an excellent discriminator, but not a perfect one.'
Chris Smith, Scottish Big Cats
The photograph shown of the pug allegedly obtained by Bill Carswell is
actually not very clear and I have some misgivings as to it having been
made by the cat chased by the witness.
The cat was actually chased by Bill when he was driving his car, he had by this time lost several lambs to the cat and he was intending to destroy it. The cat was chased down his farm track with the vehicle only a few feet behind it and as it swished its tail for balance, the witness could clearly sex it. The cat ran through a vehicle wash bed and slipped on the surface which was quite muddy. Sometime later a cast was obtained of a pug left in the mud and this was shown to an 'expert' who with only a glance at it declared that it was dog as he could see claw marks.
I tried to convince him, the 'expert', that the cat was slipping in mud at the time but he would not accept that a cat would leave claw marks even when slipping and as far as he was concerned the animal that had left the mark was a dog.
Some years later, I had a visit from a farmer/hunter from Zimbabwie, who requested to see my collection of various casts of pugs. He identified several casts, clearly showing claw marks as being made by cats including the cast from Clatto.
Scottish Big Cat Trust.
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