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Tuesday, 4 February 2020

THE CAITHNESS CAT

“Just thought I'd share my encounter with you as I've kept this quiet for a very long time...

This sighting happened approx. 23 years ago, just outside of the town of Wick in Caithness. It happened at night on a single track road between Reiss & Sibster. My friend & I were out running about in my car; we got bored of cruising the streets so we thought we'd take a drive, out and around what could be classed as the Sibster circuit. We left Wick on the A99 and took a left turn at Reiss, we drove along for about a mile, after which there are a couple of slight right-hand turns which head uphill & go into a blind tight left-hand turn, heading downhill and along another straight. As we came round the tight left-hand corner onto the straight, I noticed eye shine and had to do an emergency stop!  

In front of us, standing not 5 feet away from my bumper, just off to the left and directly in front of my passenger side, (on the single track road), was what I can only describe as a full-sized snow leopard, (tan coloured, black spots, long hair/fur). This cat was side on and looking directly at us, and my passenger and I were both looking directly at this cat for at least 5-10 seconds, with full headlights on it; before it turned its head, stooped down, rocked back and then took 1 step forward and leapt over a 3ft wall, (from left to right, past my driver’s side)! 

This cat was standing approximately, in the middle of the road, (at the right side of the road, there's a ditch with grass on each side, before it even gets to the wall); So, I'd estimate that the distance from where it's front feet were to the wall, was approx. 9-10 feet away, with the wall being at least 3ft high. This cat leapt over this wall in 1 bound! I looked at my passenger and all he could do was lock his door! Up until then, I'd heard plenty of stories about large cats that had been seen out near the Thrumster area, outside Wick, but they were all large black cats.

I was looking at satellite images of the area and I noticed there's a large area of Heather and some trees not far away from the direction it was heading, In the satellite image I've attached, you'll see a white building, below that building, is the field that it jumped into.


I clearly remember that its hair was not like that of a leopard, cheetah or black panther; it looked duller and fluffier, more so around the belly and thinner on its body. I can safely say that this cat was 1 metre plus in length, not including its tail. Its tail seemed to be hanging down in a 'J shape' which was curled under its back end, but it would have been able to touch the ground. The tail was thick and looked to be about 1.5 - 2 inches thick, with what looked like black rings around it. Its height would have been below my backside, I'm 6ft tall, and if I was standing up straight I'd be able to touch it's back with my fingertips, so, it had to be at least 2.5 ft. high! Its ears were short but fluffy on the inside, it didn't have the long black hairs on its ears like a Scottish wild cat or a lynx! All I can remember about its paws was saying to my passenger, that its paws were about the size of my hands, massive!

There are no Zoos up here. We have to travel for about 3 hours by car to get to the closest wildlife park in Kincraig. 

The photo attached is just about right in every way, spots look very similar, colours not far off, I can say that its tail didn't look as thick around as in this image, but the rings on the tail are very similar.  If there are any other types of cats which you think could look very similar to my description then please let me know…”

Written by Andrew McGrath

(Although the witness, in this case, has chosen to remain anonymous, I'm sure they will see this blog and so I would like to offer my  thanks for sharing such an awesome sighting with us all!)

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