Report from Mike Inglis
Having looked at the site "Big Cats" I thought I should belatedly report a couple of sightings.
My favourite hobby is fishing, or to be precise, seatrout fishing which takes place at night. For many years I have fished the South Esk at East Kintrockat (near Brechin) where these two reports occurred.
On the 28 May 1986 (I noted it in my diary which I keep to report my weekly catch to the Laird) I was fishing a pool called Red Braes at about 3.00 am. I was wading in the middle of the river waist deep when I saw this large black cat (slightly larger or rather longer than a large labrador) come out of the undergrowth and come down to the water's edge. It paused, looked directly at me, and then lay down to drink. It then stood up, stared at me for about 30 seconds and then turned and quietly disappeared into the trees.
I have no doubt whatsoever that it was a large cat and not a dog. It had the same profile as a cat, erect ears, long tail etc and the fact it lay down on its front to drink and did not stand and bend down. At that time of year the light starts to come back in and I noted from my diary it was nearly a full moon. Visibility was not a problem and I was only about 25' away (I have since measured the distance).
During the encounter I remained perfectly still and the animal did not seem in the least concerned. I have noticed this on many occasions with other wild animals when wading a river - they see you but perhaps because of the low profile or the movement of the water do no associate you with danger.
The second sighting was by my friend, who fishes the same water for seatrout at the same time of year. It was about 4 or 5 years later and took place about a mile upstream. Again at night but with a moon and fair visibility.
The tenant farmer also claimed a number of sightings on a fairly regular basis.
About three years ago, again late May, my friend and I heard sounds which could only be described as an animal being attacked, badly injured and in great pain - in other words screaming which suddenly ceased. We have heard rabbits squealing as they are being attacked by stoats and this was similar but far louder. The next day, before it was dark, I searched in the locality and in dense undergrowth on an island in the river, found the fresh remains of a female roe deer. Its throat had been torn out and a fair proportion of its hindquarters and flank were missing.
Another source of sightings or reports of sightings is a Gamekeeper friend of mine in Wester Ross, who has, amongst others, an intriguing story (?) of a crofter whom he knows actually shooting one which he found after his hens, taking the body to the local police station ( he had complained to them previously about the cat and they had laughed at him) which he left with them for examination by experts, returning to the police station two days later to find the police denying any knowledge of the incident at all !
Obviously because of my experiences I will be following your website with interest.
28 th May 1986
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