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Scottish wildcat kitten 'Huntleigh' passes away


By Gavin Musgrove

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The two men had carried Huntleigh more than three miles to get treatment at the vets in Grantown.
The two men had carried Huntleigh more than three miles to get treatment at the vets in Grantown.

A Scottish wildcat kitten rescued after being found alone and close to death by two walkers near Grantown has sadly passed away.

The young female was discovered near Huntly's Cave on Wednesday afternoon by chef Peter Macnab and his friend Piotr Peretko.

They carried her back to the vets in Grantown where she received treatment and the pair had become quite attached to the kitten.

Mr Peretko was going to take her in until the duo were informed that Huntleigh - named in honour of the spot where she was found - was a rare Scottish Wildcat kit.

Instead, she was taken into the care of the Scottish Wildcat charity, Scottish Wildcat Action.

A spokesperson from Saving Wildcats, the partnership project dedicated to wildcat conservation in Scotland, said the only way to establish if Huntleigh was a pure Scottish Wildcat is through DNA testing.

She said: “We were very sad to hear the kitten that was found north of Grantown on Wednesday did not recover and has passed away.

“To confirm whether the kitten was a wildcat hybrid or not, we will be carrying out a DNA test.

"The results will then be added to the national database, meaning this little kitten will still have supported wildcat conservation in Scotland.”

Mr Macnab said: "Needless to say it is a very sad end to a truly inspiring story. We are pleased to hear that our efforts will still aid the conservation of our local Highland tigers.

"It is an unfortunate tale, and a massive thank you must go out to everyone involved in the attempts to revive this little kitten."

Mr Macnab had told the Strathy yesterday: “We were out for our daily walk up to Huntly’s Cave and we spotted a circle of sheep. It was literally lying right on the Dava Way.

“As we got closer we could see they were surrounding a tiny kitten. We thought it was a domesticated kitten at first. It was in a poor state. It could not stand up, and was sodden through and was in a severe state of distress.

“We carried on to Huntly’s Cave and had a wander about there and then brought it all the way back to the vets in Grantown.

“They were unsure if it was a wildcat but said that the kitten was in such a bad state that they would give it a glucose shot and some warm sugary water to try and bring it back to life.

“My friend Piotr rang later that evening for an update and they said we could not get the kitten back and it would need to go elsewhere because it was a wildcat.”

“Piotr would have quite liked to have taken the kitten. He was devastated about it. After walking the kitten back to Grantown from Huntly’s Cave he and the cat had developed a bit of a bond!

“Piotr is 6ft 5” and 30 stone - he’s a big teddybear but he was absolutely gutted.”

Huntleigh had been found freezing and distressed, and gained attention from sheep.
Huntleigh had been found freezing and distressed, and gained attention from sheep.

Mr Macnab estimated the kitten to be just a couple of months old: “She was tiny and could be held in one hand.”

He said the charity Cats Protection had confirmed the kitten as being a Scottish wildcat.

There are only believed to be 100 to 300 pure Scottish Wildcats remaining in the wild making them of one the world's most threatened species.

Related article: Wildcat kitten found freezing in Highlands has used up one of its nine lives


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