Being out in the countryside with my dogs gives me time to think. I’ve learnt the pleasure of solitude without being lonely, and that’s a good feeling for me.

Welcome to "Man with two dogs" - the family website for dog owners and dog walkers.

This is my countryside diary which appears each Saturday in the Dundee Courier newspaper.

Native Scottish wildcat

January 15th, 2005

MACBETH POUNCED on what looked like a dead rabbit lying by the roadside. But it uttered two pathetic yowls and turned out to be a kitten, frost covered and frozen, and seemingly at death's door.

I picked it up and it flopped over my arm, as though a car had struck it and it hardly had a whole bone left in its body. But I could feel warmth glowing through several layers of clothing, and I thought the poor beastie was entitled to another chance.

I jumped in the car and took my patient to Laurencekirk Veterinary Hospital where vet Mike Robson examined it carefully and could find no broken bones. It was pretty far-gone but Mike thought it worth while giving it an injection and putting it in the incubator.

The following morning, like a concerned St Bernard, I called again to see  Angel' as she had been christened. She was still wobbly on her legs but was taking milk through a dropper. Everyone at the Hospital seemed delighted with her progress and one of the veterinary nurses had decided to adopt her as a family pet.

She's just a feral cat from a very late litter. Mike reckoned she was either parted from, or was abandoned, by the mother which had problems feeding its whole litter. It would explain why she was such a bag of skin and bone when I picked her up.

All this excitement with cats in the wild got me thinking about true Scottish wildcats, which some people say no longer exist as a pure strain because of years of interbreeding with domestic and feral animals.

I spoke to the Head Keeper of an estate that stretches well into the lonely places and hinterland of the East Grampians. He told me that on their low ground the  wild' cats they see now are seriously hybridised because of interbreeding.

In the more remote parts of the estate they come across cats that have much more the distinct markings of true wildcats. Just like any animal, they want a bit of security and are found about rocky outcrops and cairns where there are caves and shelter.

However he reckoned that scientific research was now probably the only way to establish for sure whether the true native Scottish wildcat still exists.

Latest news of Angel is that she's flourishing after a somewhat confusing introduction to domesticity. I'm sure regular food and a warm bed are more than enough to soothe even a savage wee breast such as hers!

She's a very lucky kitten, not least because she chose to collapse on a quiet lane with very little traffic.

My thanks to Mike Robson for his timely first aid. The Doyenne and I are not cat people so I'm pleased to know my foundling has a secure future in a caring home.

Written on Saturday, January 15th, 2005 at 7:15 pm for Weekly.