Report from George Markie
Mike Inglis and I were out on a cat hunt when we stopped for a break in a lay-by on a back road in Fife.
I got out of the car and swung the torch around and in the beam saw a cat. The first thing I saw was its eyes reflecting the light - a yellow/green reflection.
It was hard to get an accurate idea of the size but I would put it as being a large domestic or slightly bigger, it was grey in colour with dark grey mottling on it's back. I noticed that the shoulder blades were quite pronounced. I didn't get a look at its tail but the ears didn't seem lynx like.
This encounter was unphotographed despite having a camera in my hand! I'd swung a torch around and right at the limits of the light there was a large, greyish cat. In my other hand I was holding the camera and that was the problem: I use a Metz flashgun, which to non-photographers is one of those big flashguns that are at the side of the camera rather than on top. So I had to switch on the flash, switch on the camera, raise the camera up to my eye, swap hands so I could release the shutter and all the time keep the animal in the light.
As soon as I got the camera into position it took off like a rocket into some woods! Still don't have clue what it was - big farm cat or something else? Seemed to know how to really annoy someone with a camera though :-)
For the past couple of weeks now I've been looking at domestic cats from the same distance as my sighting - I may be imagining things but I'm sure what I saw was bigger, maybe one and a half times than a domestic and domestics' shoulder blades aren't as prominent as the one on the cat I saw. But the light was poor and it was quick so it may be wishful thinking.
This experience has made me more of aware that eye witness testimony is not enough. I now appreciate how difficult it is to remember accurately such events and how important it is not to let the imagination take over. The mind can play tricks as it attempts to "fill in the gaps" and make sense of what may have been a very brief incident in poor lighting.
11 th May 2002
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