Page last updated at 11:10 GMT, Friday, 19 December 2008

Woman injured in 'big cat' attack

Pat MacLeod
Ms MacLeod required stitches for deep cuts on her leg

An elderly woman has reported being attacked by a large cat in the Highlands.

Pat MacLeod, 74, from Ardross Road in Alness, told police she was injured by a 3ft-long cat while putting out her bins earlier this week.

Mrs MacLeod, who suffered deep cuts to her legs and cuts and scratches on her hands, needed stitches in hospital.

Police and Scottish Natural Heritage are trying to trace the cat, which has been described as grey coloured.

Mrs MacLeod said it was the second time she had been attacked by a cat outside her home and on this occasion the animal sprang at her as soon as she made eye contact.

'Shockingly strong'

She said the "shockingly strong" cat managed to drag her some distance and expressed concern about what might happen if a child encountered the animal.

Northern Constabulary said an unprovoked attack would be very uncharacteristic of a Scottish wildcat and suggested that the animal may be a hybrid of a domestic and feral cat.

A force spokesman said there had previously been sightings of big cats in the area, but no reports of attacks.

Police have advised anyone who sees a "unusually large" cat not to approach it or feed it.

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