"It was an amazing experience - my friend had hoped that if it was unclaimed, he could have had the cat returned, after a mild bonding session."
Everyone loves surprises and award-winning chef Pete Macnab experienced an incomparable one. Pete was out on a walk with this 11-week-old son and a good friend Piotrek Peretko, when he came across a tiny kitten, freezing and struggling in the snow in Huntly's Cave, north of Grantown in Moray.
Looking at the condition of the struggling cat, they carried him three miles to the nearest vets who told them that it was on "death's door," according to The Herald Scotland. It's then that the good samaritans learned that it was not a regular kitten but an endangered species, a Scottish Wildcat.
The 32-year-old said, "It was an amazing experience - my friend had hoped that if it was unclaimed, he could have had the cat returned, after a mild bonding session with the cat carrying it for such a length! He was secretly disappointed to hear it was in fact a wildcat, and was unable to be returned."
Also known as the Highland tigers, the female kitten was named Huntleigh, after the name of the place where she was found. She was then given to the authorities for further treatment.
Explaining more about the condition of the wildcat, Pete revealed, "The vet said it was in a very poorly state. It was sodden through, couldn't stand up, and in a severe state of distress—surrounded by a circle of intimidating nosey sheep when we found it. But now the cat has been passed to the local strathspey cat protection service who plan to rehabilitate and release the cat back into the wild."
Talking about how his friend bonded with the tiny creature, Pete revealed, "Piotr found him and picked him up, he was absolutely tiny, he must have only been a couple of months old. I grew up with cats and so did my friend who I found him with. At first, we thought it was a domestic cat which had run away, it was absolutely freezing and its coat was matted from lying in the snow," as per The Daily Mail.
"My friend had a proper bonding session with it, he took it to the vet and I posted on local Facebook groups trying to track down the owner. He was looking forward to rehoming the cat if nobody came forward, they wanted to get him a cat bed, they phoned the vets and the cat was starting to revive. But due to his personality the vets began to suspect he was a wildcat."
"It was a massive blow for my friend, there was a bath on the cards for the cat if he got it back, I doubt that would have ended well now we know it’s a wildcat." Unfortunately, even after the attempts of the doctors, the wildcat couldn't survive and passed away on Friday, January 15, 2021.
According to Metro, there are around 100 to 300 Scottish Wildcats living in the wild. It is one of the most endangered in Europe and the rarest in the UK.
Pete has now started a GoFundMe campaign in memory of Huntleigh along with The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland to boost the wildcat population under the project "Saving Wildcats." The breeding and release of wildcats are led by the Saving Wildcats partnership led by RZSS in collaboration with NatureScot, Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS), The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), Norden’s Ark, and Junta de Andalucia.
Mr. Macnab, the general manager at the Garth Hotel, said that he hopes that the deeds of Pete and his friend would inspire others to save others the endangered creatures.