Cat killers 

A Mr Thow who had worked for the Earl of Airlie had retired but had been given a job on the Estate as a "Trapper". I first encountered him after walking along the path by the wood with Dancer (the cats would often accompany me on a walk) and I found rabbit snares set all along the path. While I was releasing a rabbit which had been caught - half strangled, eyes bulging, too scared to move at first when freed because any movement previously had tightened up the wire around its neck, Dancer got caught in one. By the time I'd managed to release her she ran off in a panic and I panicked in case she got caught up in another one. I pulled up all the snares I could find, took them home and put them in the bin, and was relieved to find that Dancer had got home before me.

I went to meet up with Mr Thow when he was checking his snares - told him where they were and why they were there. His fist tightened on his killing stick but he was wise not to attack me, (I was Shotokan Karate 1st Kyu at the time!). His wife said that any cats they found would be returned to my doorstep - "Deed!"

I was very upset and contacted C.P. to say that I could no longer keep Peter and the Pirates as their safety was threatened - we couldn't even protect our other cats. We put Peter and Cabin Boy Tom into a basket but before C.P. managed to get them away Peter escaped. Tom was re-homed. I received a letter from the then Factor of the estate, David Laird, trying to get money from me for the loss of snares and complaints from Mr Thow about my cats "depriving him of his livelihood".

Luckily John had seen him retrieving his snares from our dustbin (underneath a batch of [used!] cat litter).

In the meantime one of the C.P. ladies telephoned Lord Lyall, with whom she had had contact in the past, told him the tale and he telephoned Lord Airlie who apparently was very annoyed about the situation and banned all snaring on his estate. So some good came of it. I later discovered that setting snares on a right of way path could have engendered fines of up to £1000 per snare.

However, one by one our cats failed to check in at night. Apart from what was happening on Airlie estate, the then Gamekeeper of Lord Lyall's estate still went out shooting cats, not even just on his Kinnordy estate.

I think Scaelaestie was a victim and we know that Fingal was. We couldn't prove what was happening but it was heart-breaking to see fewer and fewer cats coming home for supper. None of them turned up on the doorstep, 'Deed' but that may have been better as we would have had some closure and been able to do something to protect the others.