A Scottish woman has told of her shock after spotting a “puma-sized” black cat prowling outside her work during a night shift.
Lisa Elliot, 36, initially thought she had seen a baby deer when she spotted the creature move across a field near the East Lothian village of Pencaitland, outside the Tyneholm Stables care home.
The mum snapped pictures of the large cat at just after 5.30am on Monday last week.
Her images show the animal roaming across the field before it disappears into the grass.
Lisa, who works at the care home, said that this was the first time she or any of her colleagues have seen the black cat.
“I thought it was a baby dear to start with,” Lisa told the Daily Record. “I got up to the window and I thought ‘oh my god, that’s no deer’. It was huge!”
She continued: “It was just walking across the field – I’ve never seen anything like it before.
“I follow all these kinds of sightings because I find them quite interesting.”
Despite the threat of a big cat lurking outside her window, Lisa said she hopes she will catch a glimpse of it again.
Her sighting is just one in a long line of reports of big cats roaming across Scotland.
Paul MacDonald, who runs the Big Cat Sightings in Scotland Facebook group, said the group has received hundreds of reports of non-native species spotted across the country.
He believed the animal Lisa spotted could be a wildcat hybrid, but he ruled out a puma or lynx due to the shape of the tail.
The 49-year-old described it as “a bit of a mystery”.
“It is more like a wildcat hybrid but it is not in the location you would expect to find a wildcat which would be in the Highlands”, he said.
“A few years ago we went to check a carcass at Bannockburn. We took samples and sent the DNA to be analysed. Tests confirmed it was a wildcat hybrid. You wouldn’t expect to find that in Bannockburn.
“There have been sightings of big cats in East Lothian and around the Pencaitland area but the details described as more akin to bigger cats.
“The tail of this particular cat is definitely not the tail of a puma or a lynx.”
Paul, who is based in the Scottish Borders, has created a map of where sightings of these large animals have been made across Scotland in the hope of finding the creatures.
He used his experience in military intelligence to gather reports of sightings and accurately map them.
After working through so many reports, he can now recognise patterns of movement, timings and habitat. He can also determine the consistencies in big cat types reported in certain areas.
The earliest recorded big cat sighting dates back to 1947, with others recorded in the catalogue this year.
Many experts believe sightings are a case of mistaken identity as big cats are not native to Scotland, unlike the Scottish Wildcat which is of similar size to a domestic cat and on the brink of extinction.
In recent years, a police officer was sent to investigate reports of a vicious “big cat” running wild in the Highlands following years of sightings in the Bettyhill area of Sutherland.
But the most famous sightings of big cats in Scotland date back to 1980 in a case dubbed The Puma of the Glen.
On October 29, 1980, a farmer captured a puma in a cage-trap in Cannich, near Drumnadrochit by Loch Ness. Donald ‘Ted’ Noble of Kerrow Farm set a trap after losing livestock and following reports of big cat sightings in the area.
It was suspected the puma, named Felicity, was a tamed pet and she was moved to the Highland Wildlife Park
Another infamous cat said to roam Dumfries and Galloway has ben dubbed the Galloway Puma. It was first sighted in the 1990s by tourists who claimed to have spotted a cougar like animal near Kirroughtree.
One encounter in June 2001 left a young lady extremely shaken when she was walking her dog near Newton Stewart golf course.
The Galloway Gazette reported at the time that the woman claimed a “large black cat, bigger than an Alsatian” pounced at her before running away when her dog retaliated. A couple also reported seeing the creature in December 2012.
The so-called Beast of Banff was spotted in 2007, however sightings date back to 1930, with many believing a big cat roams around rural Aberdeenshire.