Lots of not so elusive Scottish wildcats have made their first public appearance in Newtonmore. The cats will be going on the prowl in the village on June 12th as part of an exciting new visitor attraction.
Over 65 colourfully decorated models are now ready to be sited round the village and the orbital footpath there - the Wildcat Trail.
As many as 100 wildcats , dubbed the Highland's very own tiger, are going to eventually be dotted in and around Newtonmore.
The life-size models of the rare cats are made form the same tough fibre=glass as used for the famous entries in the Cow Parade.
Mrs Janet Davidson, chairwoman of the Newtonmore Community Woodland and Development Trust, which is behind the project, said that most of the cats are due to be in place from June 12th.
She said: "We are delighted with the response from local people, both in offering to design & decorate a cat and to give one a home."
"We are lucky to be able to spread them out around the village and the Wildcat Trail to ensure that the Wildcat Experience is a real "quest" for people to find as many as possible."
She added: "The Elephant Parade, which is just coming to an end in London, mustered 250 elephants in a city with a population of eight million. The Wildcat Experience will have nearly a third of that number of Scottish Wildcats on parade despite a relatively microscopic village population of 1,100."
The wildcats have been painted by budding artists ranging in age from five to seventy. Mrs Davidson said: "It was not always an easy task. The models have been designed with a textured surface to represent the thick fur, which is characteristic of the Scottish Wildcat. This made painting carefully designed lines quite tricky."
"The artists have been very imaginative in the way that they have depicted the animals. For instance, there are two cat-mouflages, a cat's pyjamas, a cat burglar, a loving feline, a cat-a-log, a cat of many colours, a catwalk cat and, of course, a Puss in Boots. Surprising, though, there is only one Shinty cat!"
A colourful brochure is being prepared with numbered photos of all the cats, which will be on sale in the Wildcat Centre on the village's Main Street.
Once the cats are out and about, participants will be asked to note down the number of each one they find on the map provided. There will be certificates for those folk finding 25 or more cats and there's also a prize for anyone uncovering every last one".