Saturday, 7 November 2009

Another big Cat sighting in the Highlands

Big cat fright night By Jenna MacCulloch

Published: 05 November, 2009

A TAXI driver claims he had a spooky encounter with a big cat when he was driving revellers home from a Hallowe'en night out on Saturday. James Aitken, who is aself-employed taxi driver in Inverness, reached the top of Stratherrick Brae, Lochardil, when he said a large black cat with "piercing green eyes" crossed the road close to his car.

Stunned Mr Aitken (57) slowed the car right down when he saw the cat at around 12.30am, because he thought the beast was a deer, at first.He said: "I immediately slowed down because I thought there was a large deer on the road but, as I got closer, I saw that it was jet black. "Initially dismissing the big cat rumour, Mr Aitken then immediately presumed the animal was nothing more than a black Labrador. "Then I thought, 'by God, it's a big Labrador' but on pulling up closer I saw that it had a large tail and was much longer in the body than any dog," he said. "I alerted both the passengers to it and the girl was pretty stunned, but the man had had a few drinks and I don't think he was quite aware of what he was looking at!" Mr Aitken explained the big cat, which had a long tail and huge paws, wasn't too disturbed by the car. "At first, it was just looking but then it crossed the road and leaped over the fence into the wood. "That's when I was certain it was a cat because there is no way a dog could leap into the pitch darkness like that. Inverness taxi driver James Aitken spotted the black cat on Stratherrick Brae, Lochardil. Bobby Nelson "Cats aren't affected by the dark, and the precision of its leap, along with the way it positioned its paws, certainly made it clear to me that it was a cat." Unsure whether it was a puma or a panther, Mr Aitken was certainly shocked to see the cat roaming around in such a built up area."I was quite taken aback at the fact it seemed to be wandering in the streets," he said. "I mean, I'm sure it would be scared of humans and dogs but it looked as though it was on the hunt for food. "Maybe it was feasting on the ducks at the pond nearby or maybe the rabbits in the area. There's certainly plenty of trees and woodland around there." Back in August, the lead singer of a Highland rock band claimed he had a close encounter with a big cat coming back from the Belladrum Festival on the Friday night. Colin Fraser, of indie band the Jyrojets, was in a car being driven by his girlfriend, Suzie Hamill, when he said a large, black animal crossed the road close to their car. The singer said the cat, which had a long tail, crossed in front of them as they came round a corner on the Inverness side of Bunchrew about 11.15pm.


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