Sep 30, 2020 I Paul Seaburn

Mysterious Big Cat May Be the New Monster of the Scottish Highlands

You’ve watched the videos. You’ve magnified the photographs. You’ve read every account on the official sightings record. You’ve reached your own conclusion that the Loch Ness monster is really just a log, an eel, a camera anomaly or something that can be explained and it’s safe to start planning a post-pandemic trip to Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. Have you considered there might be other scary creatures there to contend with? New reports by Scottish media say a police officer sent to investigate mysterious livestock deaths in that country’s far north found a huge feline pawprint that doesn’t match any cats or other pawed creature normally found there. Are you ready to face the Loch Ness cougar?

“The officer sent images of a paw print and one of a "recent kill", writing: "The carcass was stripped clean, down to the spine/skull."

This report probably wouldn’t have received as much attention in the Scottish media as it has been getting were it not for the fact that the incident occurred in 2018 and has been hidden ever since, only resurfacing last week when a freedom of information request was finally fulfilled. The report is said to include correspondence between the unnamed police officer, Police Scotland, the Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) and other government-funded agencies, including this revelation from the cop:

"I've had lots of reports over the past three years of big cat sightings and activity on the north coast, mainly in the Bettyhill area of Sutherland. There have been sightings of a large feline and a lot of dead or injured sheep. On one occasion I was present when a ewe was brought in off the hill with two puncture marks on the front of her right shoulder and two at the back of it. The wounds were over three inches apart, while some of the recent carcasses have very large puncture marks."

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Cat paw

The southern side of the UK is better known for having a history of so-called Alien Big Cat sightings, but it turns out the Scottish Highlands in the far north has its share as well. As the website of the Scottish Big Cat Trust shows, the Highlands has had enough sightings that some of them acquired names, like the Sutherland Panther, and the Loch Ness/Inverness area has by far the largest number. As always, that other monster sucks up all of the media attention in Inverness, and many skeptical Scots are quick to point out that their country is home to the Scottish wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris) – a somewhat larger-than-domestic-cats breed that numbers in the low thousands. However, the pawprints described in the 2018 report are too large to be a wildcat -- 2.8 inches long and 2.4 inches wide. Well, then what was it?

“I’m not sure about the footprint. It does look a bit like a feline print but is also reminiscent of a fox or a dog.”

The response from the SASA points away from a big cat and towards a canine, fox or even badgers, and the report was said to have been closed in 2019. Why was it kept hidden from the public?

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Scottish wildcat

Perhaps there’s more to the story. The Bettyhill area on Scotland’s northern coast had a large number of big cat sightings between 1976 and 1981. In 2010, big cats were reported in Easter Ross and Sutherland, and a "large panther-type" cat was spotted in Dornoch – just 50 miles from Loch Ness – and anther in Tain, just 40 miles from Loch Ness. Could the businesses of Loch Ness dependent on large crowds of tourists be ‘requesting’ that news of alien big cats in the area be suppressed?

Reports of alien big cats continue across the United Kingdom, with no definitive answers. How many more of these secret documents on them are there?

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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