Anomalous big cat sightings are a widespread ocurrence throughout Britain and Europe in areas where there should be no such animals. Many of these sightings are of large black cats, and in recent weeks there have been numerous reports of just such a creature in the Shuckleigh area.
Our own ABC is described as a jaguar, a panther or a lioness. My enquiries have led me to discover that the black, or melanistic, forms of these big cats are extremely rare genetic sports. Since there should be no such animals on the loose here, the Shuckleigh sightings may fall into one of four types: Witnesses are seeing a very rare beast, a supernatural entity, an entirely imaginary creature, or a large domestic cat whose size has been overestimated.
Shuckleigh’s local cryptozoologist, Carmichael Jones, says ‘It is not uncommon for members of the public to mistake a large, or even normal sized domestic cat for something much bigger, when viewed in poor light or at distances that don’t give a good size comparison opportunity.’
Mrs Dobson says ‘It raced right by me. I could have touched it. it was an enormous black cat, the size of a lion.’
Arthur White says ‘It knocked me down. It was just getting dark and this big black cat, like a jaguar, but heavier, it comes barrelling down the lane and bowls me over. It stopped and looked at me, and I thought it was going to attack, but it sort of snarled and then ran off. I haven’t been that way after dark since.’
There are other witnesses who haven’t seen the ABC so close, but they are all convinced that it was not a misidentified domestic moggy.
Carmichael Jones has examined the places where the cat has been sighted, but found no physical evidence. No pawprints or hair, and there have been no reports of farm animals being killed in the neigbourhood.
Asked about the possibility of a supernatural entity, Mr Jones told me ‘That’s not my field. Cryptozoology is a serious study, all about real creatures. For instance the Shuckleigh Black Dog is not cryptozoology. It’s just a folktale.’
‘But there are still sightings.’
‘I won’t be drawn into any discussion about that. I’m tired of the anonymous letters.’
‘What about dragons and the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot?’
‘Look, what seems to be just a story can be a pointer to an actual animal. If there is a real black cat out there, I will find it. If it’s something else entirely, well, there are other people you can consult about that.’
The investigation continues. Meanwhile, if you have any news, or better still, photos, do send them in.