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Family’s beloved pet cat seized by police over fears it was rare Scottish wildcat

A pet cat that seized by police over fears it was a rare Scottish wildcat turned out to be just a tabby.

The animal, nicknamed Finlay, was examined by experts after police receivaed a tip off from a concerned neighbour.

Fears were sparked that the owner was keeping a Scottish wildcat, which is a Britain’s rarest species, without a licence.

It was taken from Conwy, North Wales, in February by environmental groups Natural Resources Wales and NatureScot.

Investigators assessed the animal’s features and found it may have a low proportion of wildcat genes but not enough to consider it a Scottish wildcat.

A NatureScot spokesman said: “In this case the animal was not assessed as being from a protected species.

“While there are provisions in legislation that allow for the caring and rehabilitation of protected species, NatureScot strongly encourage early communication with our licensing team to help guard against any offences being committed in relation to possession.”

A Scottish Wildcat hiding in a tree while waiting for its prey

North Wales Police said a 43-year-old man had been helping them with inquiries and the animal is being cared for at a specialist facility.

A spokesperson said: “The animal reported to be a Scottish wildcat was located and taken to a specialist facility to determine its identity.

“It was examined by an expert in wildcat identification, who concluded it to be a domestic tabby cat which may have a low proportion of wildcat genes, lower than that required to consider it to be a Scottish Wildcat.”

Scottish wildcats are extinct in England and Wales but there are believed to be only a few hundred left in northern and eastern Scotland.

A Scottish Wildcat prowling in the wild

They are similar to a large tabby cat and have been under threat because of habitat loss and being bred with domestic cats.

Scottish wildcats have much thicker fur than domestic cats with distinctive solid black and brown stripes.

Another notable feature is its thick banded tail, perfectly ringed with no dorsal stripe running off of the spine.

Thought to be man-κιʟʟers as recently as the 1950s, Scottish wildcats are aggressive when defending themselves or their young.

They can grow up to twice the size of domestic cats and are much more ferocious.