Andy Roberts. Cat Flaps; Northern Mystery Cats, Brigantia Books, 1986. (Reissued, CFZ Press, 2007).

This booklet provides an overview of anomalous 'big cat' activity in the north of England from the early 1970's to the current Durham flap, based on archive research and personal investigation. The incidents chronicled range from the single sighting of a lion in a suburban road in Chester, to the sixty or seventy reports on the 'Nottinghamshire Lion', the north's biggest 'cat flap.

It is hard to read this carefully collated summary without coming to the conclusion that something physical is stalking the roads and fields of rural (and not-so-rural) England. Roberts make a good case for a cross between feral cats and the native. wildcat - the latter has already been reported crossing the Anglo-Scottish border as re-afforestation of some of the wilder parts of the north of England gets underway in schemes like the Kielder Valley. However the author is also very a ware of the psychological and folkloric aspects of the 'big cat' sightings, and devotes a chapter to comparing the cat reports to other Northern animal lore. Here he convincingly refutes the claims of some other writers who have made comparisons between the cat reports and traditional 'Black Dog' legends, with a list of contrasting characteristics: these only serves to emphasise the decidedly physical nature of the cat, as against the spectral appearance of the legendary dog.

This nicely produced booklet is essential reading, most of all to those who might be tempted to see all anomalous phenomena in purely psychological terms. -- John Rimmer. Magonia 24, November 1986.

The book offered in the Amazon link is a later edition, published by the Centre for Fortean Zoology

No comments: