We had 210 useable responses to the big cat survey.

The following tables and graphs present the key frequency figures for the questions.

Do you believe that there is a large wild cat in the countryside near Stroud?

Response Percentage Number
Yes 59 124
No 22.9 48
Don’t know 18.1 38
TOTAL 100 210

The majority of respondents believe that there is a wild cat in the countryside. Just over 40% either do not believe or are uncertain regarding the presence of a wild cat. It is worth commenting that while CCRI wanted comments from those who do and do NOT believe, it is plausible that those who do believe, particularly those have experienced/seen something, are more likely to respond.

If ‘no’, why do you not believe that a large wild cat exists?

Response Percentage
There is a lack of scientific evidence 75.0
I have not seen the cat myself 6.3
No one I know has seen the cat 2.1
Because of the press and TV coverage 4.2
Other 12.5

Of the 48 people who were required to answer this question, three-quarters cited the lack of scientific evidence as their main reason for their belief. Respondents were only able to select one option. Where ‘other’ was selected, respondents cited a variety of reasons, such as attention seeking by individuals, incorrect reporting of information or other more ‘plausible’ explanations for the sightings.

Here are some interesting responses from more sceptical respondents:

“we have never found a dead one in all the years they have been ‘in the area’, also never see a cub if they are here then they would be reproducing”.

“it’s a fuss about nothing, there’s no need to make a song and dance about it”.

If ‘yes’, why do you believe that one exists?

Response Percentage
I have seen the cat 27.4
I have talked to someone who has seen the cat 12.9
From what I have seen in the press and on the TV 19.4
From what I have seen on the internet 8.1
Other 32.2

Of the 124 people who do believe that there is a wildcat in the countryside near Stroud, results suggest that just over one-quarter of them have seen the cat. These results also highlight how influential the press and TV can be in influencing people’s beliefs regarding the existence of a wildcat, with nearly one-fifth of respondents citing such coverage as being their main reason for their belief.

Upon closer investigation of ‘other’ responses however, there were a number of responses in this category that should have been included in ‘i have seen the cat’, or could have been categorised as ‘I have seen a cat in different location’ (i.e. not Stroud). The following table presents the results with these amendments.

Response Percentage
I have seen the cat 29.8
I have talked to someone who has seen the cat 12.9
From what I have seen in the press and on the TV 19.4
From what I have seen on the internet 8.1
Other 20.2
Seen a cat in different location 9.7

These results now show that nearly 40% of respondents state that they have seen a cat of some description (29.8 + 9.7) and while many of these are in Gloucestershire, some are from much further afield, such as Worcestershire, Yorkshire and France.

What sort of evidence would be needed to convince you of the existence of a large wild cat?

Respondents were able to select multiple answers in this question, and therefore the option with the greatest number of selections will be deemed the most important.

Response Number of selections Percentage of respondents who selected option (n=210)
DNA evidence 115 54.8%
Physical evidence 106 50.5%
High quality video evidence 117 55.7%
A large group of people seeing the cat at the same time 68 32.4%
One being trapped or caught 101 48.1%
I would need to see it for myself 45 21.4%
Other 39 18.6%

DNA and high quality video evidence were considered to be the most important with regard to convincing people of the existence of a wild cat. A large group of people seeing the cat was considered to be one of the least important forms of evidence, with (perhaps surprisingly) seeing the cat by the individual the response that received the fewest selections. Considerations should however be given to the order that the options were presented to the respondents and that as mentioned in question one, a large proportion (40% of the 124 believing in the presence of a cat i.e 49 respondents ) state they have seen one. These factors may have influenced how the question was answered.


If it were proved that there were wild cats in the Cotswold area, what do you think should be done?

Response Percentage
We should kill them on grounds of safety 2.4
We should give them legal protection 34.3
We should create a sanctuary for them 16.7
We should ignore them 32.4
Other 14.3

Respondents were only able to select one option with regard to this question. There was clearly very little support for killing any wildcat that may be present with 2.4% of respondents selecting this option. Similar numbers of respondents (around one-third) felt that ignoring wildcats or giving them legal protection would the most suitable course of action. Creation of a sanctuary was also considered suitable by some respondents. Where ‘other’ was given as a response, in some cases the detail was to leave them alone, which is in a similar vein to ignoring, although commenting that they felt nothing needed to be done. Other people stated that they felt a cat should be captured and put into a zoo, or returned to its native country as shown by the following quotes:

“They should be caught and removed to their natural environment”. (sic)

“I think we should ignore them as they have obviously been living quite happily for ages untroubled, so continue to let them.”

There were also some comments that any response should be according to the species identified, and that further consultation and/or research may be appropriate.


Would you visit an area knowing that a wild cat MIGHT be there?

Response Percentage
Yes – it wouldn’t worry me at all 61.4
Yes – but I would be more careful of where I go 34.3
No – I would avoid the area 2.9
Not sure 1.4

Over 95% of respondents state that they would visit an area if there was a possibility of the presence of a wild cat being present, although around one third stated that they would be more careful of where they went..

If a wild cat was CONFIRMED to be in a certain area, would you still visit that area?

Response Percentage
Yes – it wouldn’t worry me at all 48.6
Yes – but I would be more careful of where I go 42.9
No – I would avoid the area 6.2
Not sure 2.4

When the question is rephrased to confirming the presence of a wild cat, a subtle change in the results can be observed. Unsure responses barely change whereas those who state they avoid the area increase by 100% – albeit from a low base of around 3%. Perhaps the most interesting change however, is the that between the ‘yes’ responses, with an increase in those who state that they would be more careful of where they go indicating that there would be some caution exercised by many people should wild cat presence be confirmed.


Demographic Statistics

A number of simple demographic questions were asked in order to allow us to identify whether there were any trends or patterns within the responses, particularly with regard to attitude and opinions. A simple breakdown of the results follows.

Respondents’ gender

Just over 55% of respondents were male, and nearly 45% were female.


Respondents’ age category

Similar proportions of respondents were aged between 26-40 and 41-55, with 33.8% and 34.8% respectively of the total. The remaining respondents were similarly split between the 18-25 and >56 age ranges – 15.2% and 16.2% respectively.


Where the respondent lives

Over three-quarters of respondents lived within the county of Gloucestershire. The remaining respondents resided outside of Gloucestershire, one of which lived in France.


The type of area in which respondent lives

Equal proportions of respondents (30.5%) stated that they lived in either a village or town. 27.6% of respondents stated they lived in the countryside. Only 11% of respondents resided in a city. As the majority of respondents to the survey lived within Gloucestershire and the only city within a largely rural county is Gloucester these results are perhaps to be expected. Further analysis will be conducted by reclassifying these responses into ‘urban’ (town/city) and ‘rural’ (village/countryside).
© 2012 Author(s) / Countryside and Community Research Institute