Tragic death of rare Scottish wildcat kitten prompts fundraising effort
The rare animal was found half-buried in the snow on Wednesday by two walkers near Huntly’s Cave on the outskirts of Grantown-on-Spey.
One of the walkers, Peter Macnab, explained that the pair took the kitten to a local vet, believing it to be a domestic cat.
Despite their efforts, Mr Macnab, the general manager at the Garth Hotel in Grantown, confirmed that the female kitten, which they named “Huntleigh”, died from pneumonia on Friday.
“Thankfully they are recording its DNA on the Wildcat database,” Mr Macnab explained, “and this beautiful animal shall still contribute to the conservation of the highly rare species.
Conservation research suggests that there are fewer than 300 Scottish wildcats left in the wild.
“We are fortunate enough to have them coexisting with us here in the Cairngorm National Park,” the Strathspey chef added.
The chef, who named the kitten Huntleigh, has now launched a GoFundMe page in aid of the Cairngorms-based charity Saving Wildcats.
Explaining how he discovered the kitten while walking along the Dava Way, Mr Macnab said: “We were bamboozled to see a highland gathering of local sheep, huddled in a tight circle around what we thought at the time was a tiny domestic kitten!
“The animal was in a very poor state curled up in a ball in the snow, absolutely motionless. “We decided that it would be best that it joined us back to the town so we could take it to the vet.”
Specialists at Strathspey Veterinary Practice then identified the kitten as a Scottish Wildcat.
“This story comes to a bitter end,” Mr Macnab said. “We were informed that the female kitten did in fact not recover, and passed away finally due to pneumonia.”
Donations to Saving Wildcats can be made here.
The charity is a European partnership project dedicated to “Scottish wildcat conservation and recovery.”
It aims to prevent the extinction of the endangered animals by breeding and releasing them into the wild.
The group hopes to establish Britain's first large-scale breeding-for-release centre for wildcats.
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