Report from George Markie
The mystery surrounding big cat sightings in the North-east deepened last night after the discovery of a creature's body left experts at loggerheads.
There have been numerous sightings throughout the region over the years, but no carcass has been found - until now.
A farmer thought he had solved the riddle when he found a dead giant cat in a ditch beside a busy road near Peterhead.
But the discovery of the headless remains has left animal experts divided over exactly what kind of beast it is.
Bill Duffus, of Newton Farm, near Boddam, stumbled across the 3ft long creature last week on the Peterhead to Boddam road, beside the power station.
It was around the size of a fox or a medium-sized dog.
He said: "I have never believed there are pumas or big cats of that nature in this area.
"But if people saw this cat when it was alive, under the glare of headlights, they would have got quite a scare.
"It would look big in that situation."
The striped creature was buried close to the scene of its death on Monday night.
A number of locals went to Newton Farm to see the beast before it was buried.
Among them was Iris Durno, of Rocksley Drive, Boddam, who took a snapshot of it.
She said: "It was quite some size. I haven't seen a cat that size before."
Farmers in the North-east have added weight to claims of sightings by reporting sheep being killed and the bones picked cleaned in a way that only a big cat could do.
But Mr Duffus said: "I don't think this cat would have been capable of killing sheep.
"Possibly it could have killed a lamb. But I am sure it would have just fed off the rabbits here."
He has farmed in the area for 30 years and has never seen a cat as big as this one.
"It wasn't like anything I have ever come across in these parts and we go shooting rabbits all the time."
He added: "A lot of people have said they have seen a big cat and I hope this lays their minds to rest."
Mr Duffus believes the cat was hit by car, but has no idea how long it had lain there.
He found the carcass while shooting rabbits with his brother John last Wednesday.
The creature has left zoology experts divided.
Philip Crosby, of the Scottish Big Cat Society, said he was baffled after seeing the body.
The chances of a cat that large being domestic were "one in a million", and the feline equivalent of an 8ft human, he said.
"It's certainly more than 36 inches if the head had been intact and a house cat is never more than 2ft to 2ft at most," explained Mr Crosby.
"I can't understand how it has been killed either. A fox normally removes the head of an animal but not in this way.
"It has the colouring of a lynx, but the tail rules it out from being that straight away - lynx don't have tails.
"There is a breed of wild cat in the Peterhead area known as the kellas, but even for it to be one of them it would be unusually big. It's possibly a Scottish wild cat but really I can't be certain. I will be passing it on to friends to see what they make of it."
However, a specialist from Aberdeen University's zoology department, believed it was possibly a hybrid wild cat or a domestic cat.
Martin Gorman said: "I am almost certain this is just a big domestic cat. It may be a hybrid between a Scottish wild cat and a domestic cat but I do not think it is especially rare.
"Even when alive I do not think it would have been big enough to scare anyone."
Press & Journal 1 st May 2002
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