Report from George Markie
A writer on big cats wants to dig up the remains of the creature found in the North-east and remove it for DNA tests.
Di Francis, of Keith, wants to put an end to the mystery surrounding the huge cat found just outside Boddam by a Buchan farmworker.
Miss Francis, who has written three books about big cats over the last 25 years, plans to take the carcase to Andrew Kitchener at Edinburgh's Royal Museum, where tests could conclusively determine the breed.
She is to meet Buchan farmworker Bill Duffus, who found the 3ft cat lying dead in a roadside ditch last week.
Miss Francis says it is possibly a jungle cat or some other exotic breed.
She is also interested in the theory that it could perhaps be the cub of a bigger cat living in the area.
Some experts think it is a mixture of a Scottish wildcat and a domestic cat. But Miss Francis disagrees.
She said: "The tail is the real giveaway. Neither a domestic cat nor a wildcat has a tail that long and if it was hybrid, then they would hardly produce a tail which is as long as this.
"When the tests are run, we will be able to tell how old the animal is and that will let us know if it is a cub or a fully grown adult."
The writer says the mystery creature is not unlike a big cat's cub in a photo in her book, Cat Country.
She said: "It could be a jungle cat - it has all the markings of it. But it could also be a cub of a panther-like cat, about the size of an alsatian dog, which is not foreign to this country."
Miss Francis's research has led her to believe there are thousands of this type of cat across the UK.
She said: "I have come to the conclusion that there is an indigenous species of big cat living in the British Isles, from Cornwall to Caithness, and it has been with us since the Ice Age.
"It has been here since prehistoric times but has been so secretive that is only over the last century that we have become aware of it. It is an incredible zoological scenario, which is much like that of the Loch Ness monster."
Mr Duffus, of Newton Farm, found the cat on the Peterhead-Boddam road last week while shooting rabbits with his friend, Arthur Cowie.
He said the tests would be the only way of establishing for certain what had been found.
"There has been a lot of interest from a lot of different people and perhaps this will be the only way we could ever know for sure," he said.
Miss Francis's book, Cat Country, was published in 1982. It was followed in 1993 by the Beast of Exmoor.
She also penned My Highland Kellas Cats.
The author has been fascinated by reports of big-cat sightings over the years and even accompanied the Royal Marines when they searched for a creature on Exmoor that had killed several sheep.
Mr Kitchener was unavailable for comment yesterday.
Press & Journal 3 rd May 2002
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