Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Cat prints? Not again...

It is now time to update on the hunt for alien big cats in the UK. Last time, you will remember I was told by a member on an invertebrate’s forum that her boyfriend had taken a cast of the print of an ABC, or so her other half’s mate said, in their local area. Naturally, I asked; “where is it now?” and the reply was “I don't think he has the cast anymore”. “Bugger!” thought I. Never mind, she sent me a link to a photobucket account where there were photos to look at instead. They looked like a good match for a cat to me and the size was well within big cat range. After forwarding them to Richard Freeman, I emailed Hollie, as her name turned out to be, who gave us permission to use the photos, and it is to her that I am very grateful for otherwise this extra evidence would not have come to light. The best photos are shown below.

Also, she said that her boyfriend (Dan) had “actually seen the cat one night when hunting up there, though it was it dark he says he remembers seeing a big pair of eyes, too big for any "normal" animal, and looked orange coloured apparently.”.

Now, it is time to explain this eye shine business. Eye shine is, obviously, caused by light entering an animal’s eye, reflecting out of the animal’s eye and then entering our own. The shine effect is from a layer of tissue called the Tapetum lucidum which is found in many vertebrate animals. Its function is to reflect light into the light sensing cells (Rod cells) in the eye to enhance night vision further. So, when a light is shone into an animal’s eye, you quite often see it shone back at you from their eyes as the light escapes from the lens and through the pupil. Carnivores possess a choroidal tapetum cellulosum which is made of reflective crystals, whereas artiodactyls and perissodactyls have a choroidal tapetum fibrosum made of extracellular fibers. So, these two different reflective layers give different eye shines.

Eye shine varies between different animals, but it is not an exact science. Cats usually have green eye shine (domestic), as do deer, but dogs can vary from green to yellow and to orange, depending on breed. However, a number of reports say that big cats like leopards have orange eye shine, which completely confuses the matter! I must say this subject has been hard to research; everything contradicts everything else!

Then, as if this wasn’t good enough, Hollie spoke to her boyfriend, who said that his mate still had the cast, and that we were welcome to have it for a bit! This is excellent news, so we will have to sit tight and wait for Pat.

In the mean time, Richard got back to me to say this:

Though I will reserve final judgement until I have actually seen the cast my initial feelings are that these are indeed cat prints. The toes are asymmetrical and lacking in visible claws. The central pad lacks the concave shape of a dog’s .The toes also appear to show greater flexibility than a dog's.”

He attached the following photos; the uppermost photo is of a leopard, whilst the other is of a puma’s print.

Now compare these photos to the cast photos above. Richard says:
It could belong to a puma or leopard but I think it is most like a puma's with the wide toe pads. In fact the print reminds me of a Florida puma print I saw that had been cast from a track left in sand.”

I agree with him, but also the central pad in a puma is more compact than a leopard’s, very similar to the print in the photo.

For a further analysis, we will have to wait for the print to be delivered. Watch this space with bated breath! But may I just say again how grateful I am to Hollie for letting me look at the photos and for doing her best to help find the cast. If only everyone came forward with evidence!

1 comment:

  1. The reason I am visiting this site is because my daughter was out driving the other night and came accross a very big cat like creature that reflected orange light in her headlights. This was near Bo'ness near Falkirk. I have no reason to doubt her story as there was two other people in the car with her at the time and they also clearly saw the animal.