By D. Green
Today (16th Nov. 2013) I heard the Scottish Wildcat was close to becoming extinct and it made me remember an experience I had when aged 8-10, on the South Downs in about 1976-1978, where I think I saw one. Not only saw it but came within about 8ft of it and it went absolutely crazy beserk! Just posted the story on a forum that I joined today because if you read the thread someone else thinks they may have saw one on the South Downs and also stories of sightings in Canterbury, Kent. Here is my story and posting on the forum I joined (believe it or not!). The first post is by someone else (Tufftie) which made me want to post my story (Animale) which is below the first story.
Re Thread: Could I have spotted a wildcat on the South Downs?
Originally Posted by tufftie :-
I saw one in my old garden which backs onto a woodland leading onto the Downs. Yes I have seen them in the wild before and a wildlife place near Canterbury – there was no doubt what it was. There were quite a few positive reportings about that time and my understanding was that it/they were escapees from a captive breeding programme…not sure the ins and outs of this. So, it is possible that this was a true wildcat – where abouts did you see it?
And my story :-
Just came across this thread/ posting and joined forum so I could post on this subject.
Years ago, my father used to live in a property that directy backed onto the Sussex downs, was literally over the fence. One early evening heard a really weird ‘crying/wailing’ sound, was difficult to describe, couldn’t quite place what was going on or what it was. I was about 8 years old and for some reason got it in my head that it was a baby crying. I guess that is what it sounded like the most. I headed towards the back of the garden, were it backs onto the downs and were the noise was coming from. I started to think it was a baby that had been abandoned or something! Unlikely maybe but that is what it seemed/ sounded like, or all I could come up with at the time to describe the sound.
As I climbed through the bushes at the back of garden onto the Downs there was a small clearing/ bank surrounded by undergrowth and bushes. Suddenly heard a massive hiss and screech and found myself looking directly at a quite larger than normal tabby type cat, it went absolutely crazy (was about 8ft in distance) from me. It had much wilder looking fur (bushier and tuftier, particularly around the face and ears). It was screeching and hissing like a complete lunatic and think it lunged its paw forward to warn me to get the hell out. I had never seen a cat behave as aggressive and strangely as this, it was just far too wild and the hissing/ screeching noise was just out of this world.
I knew it was not a normal cat but did not even realise wild cats even existed at the time. I backed off sharply and the thing was still fronting me up with its hair virtually standing on end. Remember its face showing its teeth and the tufty hair around its ears. I backed right off and swiftly retreated the way I came. The noise it was making was really ‘really’ crazy and it seemed absolutely furious at being disturbed. Think both the Cat and myself wanted to get away but we kind of found ourselves staring face to face at each other and think the cat felt at a disadvantage if it was to turn its back on me to go, so it stood its ground and warned me to get the hell out of here. It really was going crazy.
As I got older never forgot the experience and started to research abit. No doubt in my mind what it was, you can just tell by the size/ behavior/ noise and look. Think was a true wild cat for sure…. The thing was just SO wild. Seems to tie in with the stories on this thread.
That is what I posted on Forum but on reflection the experience is maybe becoming slightly clearer and my memory refreshing it self possibly. After thinking more about the experience I got a feeling that the Cat ran away before I did, as I honestly did not know wild cats existed. I was scared but not terrified, more amazed, as I thought it was just a really angry and strange cat. As it bolted, it moved in a heavier much wilder way than a normal cat. It wasn’t very pleased at all and have never seen such a furious hissing beast as this, it really was truly wild and the noise it made was crazy.
The picture I post with it looked exactly like the cat I saw, including its behavour on being rudely disturbed.