Kellas

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All-black small C ATof Scotland.

Etymology: Named by Karl Shuker from specimens found near Kellas, Grampian, Scotland.

Variant names: Black beast of Moray, CAT SiTH, Wangie cat.

KELLAS CAT known as Specimen K, shot in 1983 by Tomas Christie near Kellas, Scotland. (Andrew Barker/ Fortean Picture Library)

Physical description: Slender and well muscled. Length, 2-3 feet, with a 12-inch tail. Weight, 5-15 pounds. Bristly, black fur, sprinkled with white primary guard hairs. Small, long head. Rounded ears. Short muzzle. Large nose. Large, prominent upper and lower canines. Paws are long and narrow. Claws are retractile. Tail is broad and thickly furred.

Behavior: Hunts in pairs during the daytime. Can swim well. Graceful, loping gait. Feeds on rabbits and birds.

Habitat: Woodlands.

Distribution: Highland and Grampian, Scotland.

Significant sightings: In June 1984, a black, male wildcat about 3 feet long was trapped in a fox snare on the grounds of the Revack Lodge near Grantown-on-Spey, Highland. The specimen was lost after it was taken to a taxidermist.

In October 1984, a second, smaller cat (known as Specimen K) came to light; it had been shot in January 1983 by Tomas Christie while crossing the River Lossie near Kellas, Grampian.

kellas cat 269

In April and October 1985, two other specimens were shot, near Avie and Kellas.

On February 28, 1988, a black wildcat was caught alive near Redcastle in northern Scotland. It measured 3 feet long and weighed 13 pounds.

Possible explanations:

(1) An unknown species of cat. This is unlikely, since the animal shares the same well-known habitat as the Scottish wildcat (Felis silvestris grampia) and would likely have been recognized long ago.

(2) A melanistic Scottish wildcat, especially possible for Specimen K, which is more slender than a typical wildcat, with longer limbs, head, body, and teeth.

(3) An isolated population of feral Domestic cats (F. s. catus). However, the skull, limb, and dental dimensions are too large for a domestic cat and closer to those of a wildcat.

(4) Introgressive domestic cat x Scottish wildcat hybrid, suggested by Karl Shuker. Continuous mating of hybrids with both ferals and wildcats could produce a breed with a distinctive Kellas appearance, whereas initial crossbreeds more closely resemble Scottish wildcats, though with longer tails. The increase in the Scottish wildcat population since World War I may actually have been jump-started by hybridization. Sources: "The Black Beasts of Moray,"

Fortean Times, no. 45 (Winter 1985): 10-12; Karl Shuker, Mystery Cats ofthe World (London: Robert Hale, 1989), pp. 70-80; Karl Shuker, "The Kellas Cat: Reviewing an Enigma," Cryptozoology 9 (1990): 26-40; David Alderton, Wild Cats ofthe World (London: Blandford, 1998), pp. 96-98; Hybridisation and the Scottish Wildcat, http://www.scottishwildcats. co.uk/Scottish%20wildcat%20hybridisation. htm; Sarah Hartwell, "Domestic x Wild Hybrids in the Wild," 2001, http://messybeast. com/hybrids.htm; Scottish Big Cats, http:// www.bigcats.org/abc/.

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