>The ‘Australian wild cat’


I’m reading a crime adventure novel written in 1895 by the Australian writer Guy Boothby. A Bid For Fortune features an Australian hero and one of the earliest ‘master criminals’ in literature, Dr Nikola. As well as being possessed of hypnotic eyes, Dr Nikola also has a huge black cat for a companion, and he often sits stroking it while coming up with evil schemes – just like James Bond’s nemesis, Blofeld.
This is how the hero of the book describes this menacing moggie: ‘I have seen cats without number, Chinese, Persian, Manx, the Australian wild cat and the English tabby, but never in the whole course of my existence such another as that owned by Dr Nikola.’
Australian wild cat?! There are of course no indigenous cats in Australasia but there are rumours of a marsupial ‘cat’ known as the Queensland tiger. Could Boothby have meant this classic cryptid? Might he even have seen one? Boothby spent time exploring the Australian outback before moving to England to pursue his literary career.
I emailed two of the UK’s most respected cryptozoologists, Dr Karl Shuker and the director of the Centre for Fortean Zoology, Jon Downes, for their opinions. Jon has posted my query on the CFZ’s website (www.cfz.org) to see what members think. Karl responded: I think he was probably referring to a feral domestic cat, many of which exist throughout Australia and sometimes attain quite prodigious sizes, especially black ones. Feral domestics are often dubbed ‘wild cats’ both in Australia and elsewhere, not least because their temperament can sometimes be quite ferocious.’
That may well be the explanation. If any alternative views come in via the CFZ, I’ll let you know.

About UncannyUK

I am the editor of Uncanny UK (www.uncannyuk.com), a website devoted to British ghosts and folklore. I am the former editor of Paranormal Magazine and the author five books on Welsh folklore. Just launched Apparition Developments, first product of which is Ghost Finder London - an app plotting 300 haunted sites in London for iPhone. I'm a highly experienced journalist and corporate copywriter. I'm an enthusiast on the subjects of UK folklore, the supernatural and antiquities and am fond of old horror and sci-fi movies, cult TV such as Dr Who and I collect Victorian/Edwardian magazines. I also enjoy weird art and macabre literature by the likes of M R James, E F Benson, Algernon Blackwood, W Hope-Hodgson, H P Lovecraft etc. I live in North Wales, which is a very spooky place.
This entry was posted in Centre for Fortean Zoology, cryptozoology, Jon Downes, Karl Shuker, Queensland tiger, Uncanny UK. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to >The ‘Australian wild cat’

  1. >Got your message Rich, would you mind sending me a link to your linkedin page, having some trouble finding you – you sure you sent me a connection request, here's a link to my profile http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/richard-thomas/26/253/487

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