A former detective believes there is a wildcat on the loose in Hawick after coming face to face with a creature he reckons might have been a lynx in his back garden.
Andy Suddon, of Longhope Drive, Hawick, spotted the mystery animal through his kitchen window on Monday night.
“I was in the kitchen with the light off, and I saw a dark animal in an open bit between trees,” he said.
“I saw this movement and at first I thought it might be a young badger, but then I saw it didn’t have any white on it.
“I thought it could be a cat, but it was too big for a domestic cat. It just stood there looking at me.”
Andy, 78, was within 7ft of the creature, and he says it looked to be about half again as large as a domestic cat.
“It was all black with no markings, and it had what I would describe as a sharper face than a cat,” he said.
“It was sleeker than a domestic cat tends to be, about 20in long, and its legs and tail were longer.
“It stood for about a minute, then it loped off.
“It moved in a different way to a normal cat too.
“I stayed in the kitchen because I thought it would bolt if I went out, and I was trying to figure out what it was.”
Once a police chief inspector, the father of five says the creature was similar to a young lynx in stature.
“My eyesight is quite good, and I have been teetotal for 20 years, so there was nothing like that going on,” he added.
“I just want to know what it was. You get stories like this every now and again of people seeing a large cat or dog in the fields, or picking one up crossing the road in their headlights.
“It’s quite common in Devon and Cornwall but not round here.
“I live at the edge of town. I’m not in the country, but I’m over the fence from the country, by the roads cutting up to Hawick Moor.
“There is plenty of countryside and wooded areas nearby, and, of course, Kielder Forest isn’t too far away.
“It’s got me puzzled. I’d be interested to speak to anyone who knows about these kind of things who might be able to tell me what it was.”
In 2001, the British Big Cat Society considered sending an investigator with a trigger camera to Hawick after a spate of sightings in and around the town, including a report of a large black cat on the Hawick to Jedburgh road.
Three years ago, a walker in Galashiels reported startling a mysterious black feline “larger than a labrador” while out with her dog on Gala Hill. Dubbed the Policies panther, more sightings of it followed, with one woman even capturing a blurry dark shape, believed to be the animal in a photograph of snow.
Over the last decade, there have also been sightings of large black and brown cats at Caddonfoot, Walkerburn, Ancrum, Newtown, Melrose and Bridgelands in Selkirk.