Report from Mike Inglis
THE 'big cat' which has been spotted briefly in various parts of North East Fife over the last few years, made its boldest appearance on Sunday in a field at Letham.
It was observed by several villagers for around 45 minutes.
Donald Dallas, who teaches history at Bell Baxter High School, Cupar, spotted the black cat off Monimail Road around 8.30am.
"The cat was the size of a sheep or a small leopard. It was about four feet in length and looked like a puma with a long black curly tail.
"I was extremely surprised because you don't expect to see a wild animal like that pacing up and down in a stubble field.
"It was extremely misty and 1 think that was what brought it so near to Letham."
Many people, said Mr Dallas, were out looking at the cat with binoculars.
He added: "It was my neighbour Claire Reekie who telephoned and told me the cat was in the field next to her house. The animal was extremely muscular and looked very healthy. It would certainly be something you want to avoid."
Mrs Reekie, whose house is next to the field, was initially sceptical about the discovery.
"It was my mother-in-law who first spotted the animal, although she thought it looked like a deer.
"I said to her 'it's not a deer. It's got a tail.
She added: "It was a hazy morning and, although only around 100 yards away, I don't think the cat really knew how close it was to civilisation. It had a stealthy prowl movement."
Police have reported around 30 similar sightings of the cat across North East Fife, where vast fields and undergrowth offer rich pickings.
Sightings have included fields near Kilrenny and St Andrews.
The animal may also have been spotted near Parbroath in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Occupants of a car travelling on the main Dundee-Kirkcaldy road saw a large, dark cat-like animal beside the carriageway.
One of the passengers had jokingly remarked that it was possibly the mysterious 'big cat!'
Earlier this year leading wildlife expert, Dr Hans Kruuk dismissed sightings of the big cat, claiming they were "terrestrial Nessies."
Cupar Divisional Intelligence Officer PC George Redpath, who is compiling a dossier of sightings, said people were often apprehensive to report what they saw.
He said they should not be alarmed but warned them not to chase it around the countryside.
There have been many sightings throughout North East Fife but some of them go back right to the 1980s. By the time it is reported to us, the animal has moved on from a particular area," he added.
Source unknown, September 1998
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