The Greenock Catman, Scotland's Glowing-Eyed, Rat-Eating Mystery

Tracking Down the Legendary Greenock Catman, Scotland’s Glowing-Eyed, Rat-Eating Mystery


Every town has its own local legends, stories of mysterious creatures that become the fodder for whispered conversations around campfires or barstools. Some, like the legend of the Jersey Devil, gain nationwide attention, while other tales, such as that of the Burlington Boogeyman, rarely leave the communities of their origins. One such local legend has long been a secret held by the town of Greenock, Scotland: the mysterious rat-eating Catman.


The scenic fishing town of Greenock, just 25 miles west of Glasgow, prides itself on its rich maritime history, its spot among Scotland’s top 50 walking trails, and its beautifully restored Victorian buildings. In fact, it’s long been considered one of the most lovely towns in the country. But when the sun sets and night has descended upon its shores, the residents of Greenock know that something is creeping in the darkness, watching them silently as they hurry back to their homes.



For many years, the only evidence of the Catman were 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.

Then in the late 2000s, a pixelated video captured on a cell phone changed all that. The Catman was real.

The clip showed that Catman wasn’t some kind of undiscovered monster, but a human after all. As the cameraman spoke to him, Catman lifted a dead rat to his face, black with soot and dirt, and bit into it, the disturbing image somehow disarmed by Catman’s gleeful “thumbs up” gesture.

As you can imagine, the video was passed around between the youth of Greenock, becoming the hot topic of local discussion, before being uploaded to the internet where it quickly became the talk of message boards and email chains. The Greenock Social Work department even took notice of the video, telling the local papers that they’d sent one of their case workers out searching for him, though they wound up empty handed.


No one is quite sure how long the Catman has been lurking the alleys and tunnels of Greenock, but some of the earliest reports date back to the mid-70s. Some said that he was a Russian sailor that had been stranded in Scotland, forced to live off the streets. Others claimed he was the victim of a mob beating that had broken his legs and left him in hiding. Some reports stated that Catman was a crazed escapee from a local mental institute. Despite the wildly varying backgrounds, a few details always remained the same: Catman always crawled, rarely spoke, and was always eating rats.

catman eating rats

One report from 2010 lends more credence to his cat-like traits:

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.

He is definitely real, not a myth. I heard young boys gave him a heavy kicking. Young neds in Greenock are evil.

Greenock Catman eating a rat

As the legend of the Catman grew more and more into a reality, the media began to take in interest in the story. In 2010 a local documentarian set out to uncover the truth about the local legend, but was met with roadblocks at every turn. No matter where he went, those who allegedly knew the true history of the Catman refused to speak on camera. What was supposed to be a feature length documentary ended up being a five minute segment that posed more questions than it answered.

To this day, it seems that no one knows, or will reveal, the true identity of Catman, where he’s from, or how he ended up living this way in the tunnels of Greenock. His survival for half a century is shocking enough, but maybe not as mysterious as one might think when considering the kindness the locals who’ve attempted to help the man throughout the years.

I live in Greenock and I can vouch the Catman exists. He has several spots he stays in, behind the shops at the bus station or around the abandoned warehouses. the local takeaways leave stuff out for him and every now and again you will find new blankets by one of his areas that someone has left for him. He was institutionalized once but Couldnt handle it. He doesn’t like people but the people here make sure he’s taken care of as much as he chooses to be. Cups of tea or soup will be left in certain spots, food. I know one woman who drops him off a meal every Saturday evening on her way to bingo and she makes sure he has a hat when it gets cold. I suppose its the true definition of care in the Community.


The Catman is still alive, if not well, with images of his blackened face surfacing as recently as April 2015, courtesy of his Facebook Fan Page. Yes, that’s right, he even has a Facebook page, one that, perhaps cruelly, classifies him as a pet. It’s the same page where, just days ago, it was reported that Catman was sent to the Ravenscraig Hospital.

After his first appearance in Greenock over four decades ago, perhaps the mystery of the Catman will finally be solved. Stay tuned.


Do you have a story about the Catman? Are there any local legends from your town that deserve to be shared with the world? We want to hear from you! Drop us a line on Facebook, tweet us @WeirdHQ, or leave your stories in the comments below!


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  1. Sommer Jonez

    06/04/2015 at 5:06 PM

    Connor Hopkins Josh Heard Brendan Jacob road trip?

  2. Connor Hopkins

    06/04/2015 at 5:07 PM

    Let’s go

  3. zazz

    06/04/2015 at 10:07 AM

    gosh greg that is a really really sad story 🙁

    • Greg Newkirk

      06/04/2015 at 10:09 AM

      Isn’t it, though? It bummed me out just writing about it, but hopefully now that he’s finally gone to the hospital, he’ll get some help. Though living like a cat for half a century can’t possibly be overcome too easily.

      • zazz

        06/04/2015 at 10:22 AM

        It begs the question how a human can live like that for so long without the community helping him. Poor thing, and he got beaten up by thugs repeatedly. Showing how pack young males have a total disconnect. I hate people sometimes.

      • John

        06/05/2015 at 11:20 AM

        Very sad. Did you read the recent-ish story (possibly in Esquire) about the guy who lived in the woods somewhere in the states for decades? He became an urban legend and hadn’t spoken to another human for 30 years by the time he was finally found. I think he might now be in jail, sadly.

  4. Erin Fouts

    06/04/2015 at 5:16 PM

    What the actual fu….?

    • Week In Weird

      06/04/2015 at 5:21 PM

      Pretty much.

    • Erin Fouts

      06/04/2015 at 5:31 PM

      So sad. I wish his whole story would be revealed.

    • Week In Weird

      06/04/2015 at 5:38 PM

      Same here, I can’t believe someone can live half a century this way and no one knows a thing about him.

  5. Thiago Mendes

    06/04/2015 at 5:41 PM

    Christian Costa

  6. Aisling

    06/04/2015 at 10:45 AM

    It is sad and yet sweet too. It’s nice that community took care of the guy in their own way for 40 years. I hope they are able to find something out about who he is and how he wound up living that way.

  7. David Lees

    06/04/2015 at 6:23 PM

    Strangely, I’ve never heard of this before I only live a few miles down the coast. Although seeing the words “scenic” and “lovely” applied to Greenock is perhaps the weirdest thing I’ve ever read on your site…

    • Week In Weird

      06/04/2015 at 6:24 PM

      Blame Scotland’s tourism website!

    • David Lees

      06/04/2015 at 6:25 PM

      There are some nice buildings and local scenery, but the place is a bit of a hellhole. Junkies on every street corner and so on 🙂

    • Week In Weird

      06/04/2015 at 6:28 PM

      Don’t forget the catmen.

  8. Renee

    06/04/2015 at 11:32 AM

    I’m just glad there were enough people who had enough sympathy to see more than a scary mythical creature. That poor guy.

  9. Coppertop

    06/04/2015 at 1:09 PM

    Holy hell, that’s a downer of a story. I pray he ends up getting some help – both physical and mental. No matter what his backstory may be, no one deserves to live like that.

  10. Susan Rivas

    06/05/2015 at 5:19 PM


  11. james

    06/07/2015 at 5:51 AM

    Surely you don’t believe this nonsense I live up the street walked through it everyday going to school.yes old tramps lived in the pipes in the lane loads of cats always around looking for food.the guy in the pic looks the same as he did the last’s somebody taking the piss ffs you really think a care home would just drop him off back in the lane that wouldn’t be allowed.and he can’t walk supposedly..get a grip people.the pic of the wee lassie feeding him chips if I was a wee lassie I would be running as fast as I could.its me that’s kidding everyone on..I dress up like that everyone so often for free chips or rats.greenocks a pure riddy man

  12. Ashley

    06/07/2015 at 9:41 AM

    he’s gotten help loads of times been took away cleaned up given a warm place to stay etc but he always just goes back to this space he’s been in and out of a mental hospital but every time he gets realised he just goes back to Scots lane it’s where he’s been for years sure he’s in his 50’s now!

  13. Greenock Bhoy

    06/07/2015 at 4:42 PM

    not sure what James is talking about I also lived near that lane growing up and have seen the guy many times. Think you need to get out more mate.

  14. Greenock Bhoy

    06/07/2015 at 4:43 PM

    And if you were really from Greenock you’d know nobody is scared of Catman.

  15. sophie

    06/07/2015 at 4:51 PM

    ive joost been shown this and i am the girl in the picture. Catman crawled out on my big cousin who was passin thru the lane just before xmas so we had been out leaving food for him every night for months until this night we finally found him. This was in February. I wasn’t scared of him I was with my sister and mum who took the picture and she used to see him when she was younger. hes harmless. my mum said its really him because the big scar on his head, not someone takin the piss. She said he looks much older though and his beard is longer. Here is another pic from the same night and i also have a video –

  16. allen

    06/13/2015 at 5:40 AM

    I saw him once. He was eating a big rat. He’s nice, very well educated and the pretty Blonde in the fiesta pic is his wife, recently they got married and had wedding night at forestal, was amazing, i followed them and took vídeo. Its very crazu and hot. The wedding night at forestal!

    • Kasia

      06/19/2015 at 11:33 AM

      you’re a liar and moron. No woman would ever be with this scum.

  17. Damo

    06/25/2015 at 12:13 PM

    “PERHAPS” cruelly?


    Classifying a human being as a “pet” while you make a facebook page to gawk at him is definitely a cruel and twisted thing to do. No “perhaps” about it.

  18. Bonedogg

    07/21/2015 at 8:06 AM

    Guy is still out there seen him couple of months ago as me and my girlfriend we here walking across Scott lane I seen my mates as I stopped to talk to them one of them looked at their feet and it was catman my girlfriend had her pram bag with her so we started to give him some food tried to video him a and such but he seemed embarrassed and avoided looking at the camera turning away and stuff the guy has being going for like 50 years now and is still being spotted today BEAR GRILLS HAS NOTHING ON THIS GUY

    • Mick

      08/14/2015 at 12:05 PM

      Upload the video mate.

  19. morton

    08/15/2015 at 10:48 AM

    half of Greenock thinks its a hoax the other half have seen him and don’t understand why he’s been turned into an urban legend. A documentary maker needs to do a story on him and show everyone that the man is actually out there, maybe then he’ll get the attention and help he needs. I remember seein him in the 80s, this has gone on long enough lets give him some comfort in his old age.

  20. GhostCat99

    08/16/2015 at 12:03 PM

    This is obviously a hoax, just look at the first video he takes a dead rat and puts it in his mouth without eating it, hes just posing for the video. Also if he crawls around all the time how would he be able to catch rats?

  21. morton

    08/17/2015 at 10:28 AM

    doesn’t make him a hoax, just means he likes to pose with dead rats. Not as if he claimed to eat rats people just started saying that about him. He obviously finds dead rats and carries them around, maybe thinking he’ll get rewarded for it.

  22. morton

    08/17/2015 at 10:29 AM

    I wouldnt even touch it let alone put it anywhere near my mouth if I was doing it for a hoax. He’s the real deal and so are the rats.

  23. Robert

    09/26/2015 at 6:41 AM

    Catman’s nae hoax. A know folk who don’t believe it but av seen the poor guy many times. Nothing mythical about him just a homeless jakey living rough around Greenock. Used to see him raiding the bins in Dalrymple St when he could still walk and some nights in scotts lane, hink he sleeps in the eastend tunnel. Its no been 5 decades though he first appeared in the 80’s.

  24. Cynthia J Campbell

    06/07/2016 at 6:47 PM

    I’d like to see Dogman vs Catman in cage match

  25. Thomas Mccluskey

    06/07/2016 at 6:47 PM

    I’ve seen a lot of strange people in Greenock… but never a Rat-Eating CatMan 😀

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