There might be an escaped F1 melanistic Savannah cat roaming around Scotland, near St. Andrews. I'll tell you why it is a possibility.
The local press is talking about a black "big cat" on the loose (see Fife Today). The word "big cat" is used loosely to! Because a father and son were out for a walk near St. Andrews when from a distance of 35 feet (fairly close so the sighting was good) they saw "a big black cat". It was the size of a small Labrador they added.
There is a difference between a "big black cat" and a "black big cat"! Big cats are usually one of the top four biggest wildcats: jaguar, leopard, lion and tiger.
A genuine black big cat is likely to be a melanistic leopard or jaguar (euphemistically called black panthers). These are large animals considerably larger than a normal or large labrador.
Labradors vary in size but at the shoulder a small Labrador might be about 21 inches tall. The world's tallest domestic cat was at one time Magic, an F1 Savannah cat that was 17.1 inches at the shoulder. The male serval, the father of an F1 Savannah cat is considerably bigger but smaller than the leopard or jaguar.
There is at least one Savannah cat breeder in Scotland: Wild Cat Breeder. They don't say where they are on their website. However, servals and Savannah cats are able to escape. Melanism can occur at anytime. It is a genetic mutation that affects the coat and nothing else.
We are not talking about big cats in the conventional sense. Newspapers like to talk things up. But the observations of a large black cat roaming around St. Andrews, if the observations are faithful, might be sightings of a melanistic F1 Savannah cat or perhaps a serval as both these cats are in Scotland, albeit in captivity. They are the correct size based on the best sighting referred to above.
See also Big Cats in the UK.
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