One eyewitness account described “a huge black thing which slinked across one of the back farm roads” in rural Fife.
Another described seeing “a massive black cat near Dunfermline” while others reported seeing footprints while hiking in the Highlands.
Describing an encounter near East Neuk one post said: “My dad and brother have both seen a big cat in Fife. My brother is a biologist who has done field work in Africa, where leopards and lions would walk periodically walk through his camp, so I’d think he’d know a big cat when he saw it.”
The author explained the sightings took place “a couple of decades ago”, adding: “They both saw it at different times and at slightly different points on the old railway between St. Andrews and Crail, it’s got quite high banks in places and is a nice place for a run, or to slope around unannounced if you’re a big cat I guess.”
The reports came in responses to a question on social media website Reddit last Wednesday (May 20) asking users: “Does anyone believe they have seen a big cat in the wild in Britain?’.
There were hundreds of responses, with people from Dartmoor to Essex claiming to have seen big cats, but the largest number of reports concerned Scotland.
Scotland, with its rugged highlands and miles of sparsely-populated countryside would be the perfect spot for a big cat to hide out. Felicity the Puma was famously captured in the Highlands near Inverness in 1980 and lived out her days in the Highland Wildlife Park.
And she isn’t the only one, according to the Scottish Big Cat Trust website which includes a post by member Chris Smith, saying, “I have a cutting from the Edinburgh Evening News of 9 July which states: ‘The Highlands are also a fertile ground for big cats.
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A puma was captured in Aviemore in 1993, eleven years after another puma had been captured in the same area.’
The first is obviously Felicity, but there aren’t any other references to the second puma.
Reddit users were keen to answer the request for stories, one user said: “My friend has. We were up camping near the Highlands many years ago, and he swears that after I went to bed, he saw a large animal with cat’s eyes investigating our site.
Another user replied with a story of their own, saying: “Whereabouts exactly were you? Only asking
because I found a massive paw print hiking over Rannoch Moor in the early 90s.”
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Somebody else chimed in the comments saying: “I saw one in Fife about 12 years ago,” adding: “The one I saw was on the back of the hill to the North of Cupar towards the Tay.
“It was a huge black thing which slinked across one of the back farm roads. I talked about it with someone who lived in a farm cottage in the area – they said they didn’t let their grandkids play in the garden on their own because they had seen the cat a few times in the corner of the field at the bottom of their garden.”
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A similar eyewitness account came from a commenter who said: “I saw a massive black cat near Dunfermline but this must have been about 15 years ago at least!”
Other stories came from further afield with one person claiming: “I saw one in the mid-nineties on the farm I grew up on, which was just outside of Glasgow.
“There had been rumours going around of there being one in the area for a year or so – then my brother and I both saw it one morning before school. It was a very large black cat, and seeing it confirmed was terrifying.”
One user simply said: “I saw one about 20 years ago in Aberdeenshire.”
Another commenter explained: “I was chatting to a guy at his desk at work. He took a call from his wife who is a midwife and was travelling up to a farm to see a prospective mum.
“She was on a single track road on the north side of Loch Achilty in Ross Shire in the highlands. She told her husband that a black cat “bigger than a big Labrador” had just leapt from the embankment on her right, hit the middle of the road (single track), and bounded off in another leap into the woods towards the loch downhill.
“When she got to the farm and told her story, the prospective father (the farmer) wasn’t surprised. He said the cat had been bothering them for months.
“Just to add, she has always had cats, she knows this wasn’t anything like a domestic cat.”
In another story from the Rannoch Moor area, one camper said: “Me and a few mates went hiking along the West Highland Way in Scotland when we were in our early 20s (about 30 years ago).
“We set camp up on Rannoch Moor and while I was searching for a place to relieve myself I came across a huge paw print in the mud of a run off ditch.
“It was easily the size of my splayed hand. No claws marks either so I know no dog made that.”
The reports on Reddit are the latest in a long line of big cat sightings in the wilds of Scotland and closer to home.
In 2018 Edinburgh Live reported on a big cat sighting in the Pentlands, the latest in a string of sightings in the area dating back many years.