If you live on the West Coast of Scotland, you’ve probably heard of the Catman. Everyone in Greenock has seen him apparently. Catman is a bit like the old Monty Python sketch about hermits, where he says “Being a hermit is a lovely way to meet people”. Not so much local legend as local celebrity, the Catman is, or was, the most harmless of bogeymen, always crawling, always filthy with soot and dirt and always with a rat in his mouth.
The town of Greenock, a few miles from the City of Glasgow has a rich history, but fell on hard times in the late 20th century and early part of the 21st century due to the decline in shipping and the ship building industry. Part Glasgow commuter town with some very grand houses and architecture and part poverty stricken council schemes with a host of problems relating to drugs and crime, Greenock is a fitting home for the elusive Catman who hides in his lane observing passers by.
For many years, the only evidence of the Catman was second-hand tales of glowing eyes in the darkness, or a friend who swears he had seen the black figure crawl out of a drainage pipe, a dying rat dangling from its jaws. To some, the Catman was a cryptozoological beast, the last of its kind living on the edges of society. To others, the legend of the Catman was the work of local pranksters intent on scaring the drunks stumbling out of the pub at night. Even the police, who often fielded reports about Catman sightings, were unsure of what to make of the stories.
Legends of the Catman have been circulating in Greenock for years, but it was with the emergence of a video in the late 2000s that the his status moved from that of urban myth, to an actual, pitiful human with an almost unimaginably difficult life. Some say he was a sailor from Russia who lost his way, while others claim he was an escaped mental hospital patient. One thing is clear, the Catman, for whatever reasons chose to stay beyond the very fringes of human society, frequenting the tunnels and industrial areas of Greenock and living on rats, scraps and whatever he can find.
No one is sure how long the Catman has been lurking in Greenock, but some stories go as far back as the mid 70s.
One report from 2010 goes:
“Catman is definitely real. He gave me a hell of a fright. The first time I saw him it was just getting dark, and all I saw were his eyes. His face is totally black like in the video. He would lie at Scotts Lane path in the bushes behind the fence, pointing at cat meat that was left for cats, asking me to pass it through the fence. I think he was scared to go onto the path for it. I used to go buy donor kebabs for him when coming home from dancing. He hasnt been seen in ages now, since the council put corrugated iron up so he couldnt be fed.”
Alas, there have been no more recent sightings of the Catman since around 2016, and the mystery of the Catman persists. If you’re in Greenock, you might wish to have a stroll through Scotts Lane where he is most likely to be found.