Kellas cat

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stuffed cat in display case
Mounted specimen of Kellas cat

The Kellas cat is a small black feline found in Scotland. Once thought to be a mythological wild cat, with its few sightings dismissed as hoaxes, a specimen was killed by being caught in a snare in 1984 by a gamekeeper named Ronnie Douglas[1][2] and found to be a hybrid between wild and domestic sub-species of Felis silvestris.[3] It is not a formal breed of cat, but a landrace of felid hybrids. The specimen was named by cryptozoologist Karl Shuker after the village of Kellas, Moray, where it was first found. Shuker suggested that the cat sìth of Celtic legend is based on folk memory of Kellas cats.[4] The historian Charles Thomas speculates that the Pictish stone at Golspie may depict a Kellas.[5] The Golspie stone, now held at the Dunrobin Castle Museum, shows a cat-like creature standing on top of a salmon which may allude to the characteristics ascribed to a Kellas of catching fish while river swimming.[6]

Andrew Kitchener, researcher and Natural Sciences curator at the National Museum of Scotland,[7] examined eight specimens of black felines.[6] One carcass was already in the Museum's collection; the remaining seven were supplied by Di Francis,[8] who is described by Thomas as a "writer, researcher and practical naturalist".[6] Kitchener's analysis identified one of the animals as a melanistic wild cat;[6] this juvenile male was the first wild cat ever documented as melanistic in Scotland.[9] Most of the other specimens examined were concluded to be hybrids but more closely aligned to the wild cat; only one hybrid leaned more towards a domestic cat.[9]

The Kellas cat is described as being twenty-four to thirty-six inches (61 to 91 cm) long, with powerful and long hind legs and a tail that can grow to be around twelve inches (30 cm) long; its weight can range from five to fifteen pounds (2.3 to 6.8 kg).[10] Douglas had measured the animal snared in 1984 and he stated it was fifteen inches (38 cm) to shoulder height and forty-three inches (110 cm) in length.[11] A specimen is kept in a museum in Elgin.[12] The Zoology Museum of the University of Aberdeen also hold a mounted specimen that was found during 2002 in the Insch area of Aberdeenshire.[13][14]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Bowers, Aron, "Kellas Cats, Scotching the Myth", Scottish Big Cat Trust, archived from the original on 4 October 2015, retrieved 4 October 2015 
  2. ^ Francis (1993), p. 3
  3. ^ Nowak (2005), p. 237
  4. ^ "Taxidermy Kellas Cat", Smith and Savage, archived from the original on 4 October 2015, retrieved 4 October 2015 
  5. ^ Thomas (2013), p. 175
  6. ^ a b c d Thomas (2013), p. 174
  7. ^ "Dr Andrew Kitchener". National Museum of Scotland. Archived from the original on 8 October 2015. Retrieved 8 October 2015. 
  8. ^ Kitchener (1993), p. 211
  9. ^ a b Kitchener (1993), p. 213
  10. ^ Eberhart (2002), p. 269
  11. ^ Francis (1993), p. 6
  12. ^ "Elgin Museum, collection", Museums Galleries Scotland, archived from the original on 4 October 2015, retrieved 4 October 2015 
  13. ^ "Catalogue record", University of Aberdeen, archived from the original on 4 October 2015, retrieved 4 October 2015 
  14. ^ Kellas cat (Notice in display cabinet). Aberdeen: University of Aberdeen. 


Further reading[edit]

  • Karl Shuker: Mystery Cats of the World. Robert Hale: London 1989. ISBN 0-7090-3706-6
  • Karl Shuker: "The Kellas Cat: Reviewing an Enigma". Cryptozoology, vol. 9, pp. 26–40 (1990)