Report from Chris Smith
A writer on big cats wants to dig up the remains of the large 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 farm-worker.
Miss Francis has written three books on big cats over the last 25 years.
She plans to take the carcase to Andrew Kitchener at Edinburgh's Royal Museum for the tests, which could conclusively determine the breed of the cat.
She is to meet farm worker Bill Duffus, who found the 3ft cat lying dead in a roadside ditch last week.
Miss Francis thinks it is possible that it is a jungle cat or some other exotic breed.
She is also interested in the theory that it could 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 cat is not unlike the 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: "Over the years, 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 on Wednesday last week while he was shooting with his friend, Arthur Cowie.
He said the tests would be the only way of establishing for certain what had been found.
Press & Journal 3 rd May 2002
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