Report from George Markie
A MYSTERIOUS 'big cat' has been spotted TWICE prowling through the undergrowth near a Paisley dam.
Now, an investigation is set to be launched in a bid to identify the strange creature.
Local man Andy Carlin first came face-to-face with the animal - which stands at more than a foot high - while out walking his dog.
The 48-year-old got within 20 feet of the strange-looking 'feline', which he says stood staring at him and his poodle, Floyd, for several moments before making off into the bushes.
Yesterday the baffled Buddie told the Paisley Daily Express: "I have no idea what this creature was, but it clearly wasn't your ordinary house cat.
"I'd say it was probably the build of a good-sized male fox, and had a grey coat with black spots through it.
"Its tail was pure black, long and bushy.
"And it had black pointy ears and black markings round its eyes - a bit like Alice Cooper!"
Yesterday, top nature experts claimed it could be a rare RACOON!
A surprised Andy Christie, of Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue, told the Paisley Daily Express: "Going by this description, the closest animal I can think of is a racoon.
"But they're American, not British, and there will only be a handful of them in Scotland.
"A couple of people may have them as pets, the rest will be in zoos.
"And anyone who does keep a racoon would have to have a dangerous wild animal licence."
Buddie Andy spotted the mystery creature near the old Poulson's dam, at Glenfield Road in Paisley.
He often walks his dog in that area.
"There is a fence round the dam so the big cat couldn't get to me," he explained.
"But I got a really good look at it because it just stood there, fixed to the spot, staring at me and my pet poodle.
"Then, a few nights later, I was walking back past the same area with the dog and I'm sure I saw the creature again.
"This time it was in amongst the undergrowth, but I'm about 90 per cent certain it was the same big cat."
Nature whizz Andy said: "There are some inconsistencies between the description of the 'cat' spotted in Paisley and a racoon, but that's definitely the closest animal I can think of.
"Anyone who does come across it shouldn't attempt to approach or catch it, as it can lash out the way any ensnared animal would."
And Mark Fraser, of the British Big Cat Society, added: "More and more over the last ew years we have been getting reported sightings of cats with very unusual colourings and markings, somewhat akin to the Scottish wildcat.
"This one in Paisley is definitely not a leopard. I don't know whether it's a racoon, but you can't rule anything out.
"I would like to visit the area where the animal was sighted to investigate."
Have you spotted the mystery 'big cat'?
If so, call Gail Cameron in the Paisley Daily Express newsroom on 0141 887 7911.
Paisley Daily Express, 20 th May 2003
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