Report from Chris Smith
A recent sighting of a large, dark brown feline animal near Kelty has
deepened the mystery of the Fife's "big cat" phenomenon.
However, this time the enigmatic creature may have left more than its paw prints.
The couple who spotted the cat claim it was responsible for mauling 18 chickens at their farm by Blairadam Forest.
John and Patricia Getley recently saw the animal from their living room window, 11 days after finding the remains of a "massacre" in the hen house.
Mrs Getley said she saw the cat from about 100 yards distance in the field outside and watched it for around five minutes.
Both Mr an Mrs Getley are convinced it was the animal that attacked their hens.
Mrs Getley said, "Some of the chickens had no heads and there were feathers everywhere.
"The chickens have been the target of foxes before, but the last time it happened the fox only took the one bird. We've never had all the birds killed in one go."
Mr Getley said the amount of feathers lying about made it look like the animal had toyed with its prey before killing it, adding weight to the theory that a cat was responsible.
His wife continued, "I couldn't tell what it was, but it certainly wasn't a domestic cat or a Scottish wildcat.
"It was a very dark brown colour and had a very big, curving tail."
It was the first time the couple had seen one of Fife's "big cats" near their home, despite knowing for some years that something might be lurking nearby.
Forestry commission staff working in the area had mentioned the possible presence of a big cat in the vicinity 10 years ago.
Retired police officer George Redpath, of Balmullo, who collects information about big cat sightings in Fife, said there was no way of identifying the cat until it is caught.
He said, "There have been sightings of cats in Blairadam Forest for years. However, it would only be speculation to say what kind of cat is in the area.
"People have said in the past there could be leopards about, but the dark colouring suggests there could be pumas."
The carnage that Mrs Getley found in the hen house fits in with a big cat's eating habits.
Mr Redpath continued, "It is consistent with big cat behaviour for them to keep killing after the have finished eating. They may even eat only one or two of the birds they have killed.
"Also, if the cat knows there's an easy meal available it will come back for more.
"One lady in Cupar had her stock of peafowl almost wiped out because the cat kept coming back.
" Sceptics who believe big cat sightings are nothing but a myth should look at the statistics, according to Mr Redpath.
He added, "I have hundreds of statements from people who have seen big cats in Fife. This year alone there have been 200 sightings."
© Glasgow Evening Telegraph, 19 th December 2003
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