POLICE have confirmed that a cat believed to be a protected species is in fact a domestic tabby cat.

Police received information that a man in the Conwy area was keeping a Scottish wildcat without the proper licence.

After the cat was seized by police in February Denbighshire animal rescue group, Wildcat Haven, had pleaded for its return.

But, police say, experts have confirmed it is in fact a domestic cat.

The group had said the animal, named Finlay, was just weeks away from being released into the central Scottish Highlands.

North Wales Police has now said the animal isn't officially recognised as a Scottish wildcat.

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A statement said: "We received information from the public and partner agencies concerning a man in the Conwy area who was believed to be keeping a European Protected Species without the required licence.

"Following consultation with NatureScot and Natural Resources Wales a search was conducted on February 14, 2022. 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 (Felis silvestris)."

Police added that fundraising has been taking place in relation to the cat.

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Police added: "We are aware of significant fundraising in relation to this animal.

"A 43 year old man is assisting with enquiries, and the animal continues to be cared for at a specialist facility."

A NatureScot spokesperson 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.”

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