Maltese Tigers  

Maltese Tigers - Page 1: The Myth Of The Maltese Tiger | 2: Cryptozoological Artwork

The myth of the maltese tiger?:

While in south-eastern China American missionary Harry R. Caldwell described a clear sighting of a tiger coloured deep shades of blue and maltese (bluish-gray).

Caldwell was experienced in recognising tigers and during his time in China he shot literally dozens of the big cats.

September of 1910 saw Caldwell in the Fujian Province and watching a goat. A tiger was pointed out, but at first glance Caldwell thought it was a crouching man dressed in blue.

A second look told him otherwise, "...I saw the huge head of the tiger above the blue which had appeared to me to be the clothes of a man. What I had been looking at was the chest and belly of the beast."

He raised his gun to fire, then realised several children were in the way. During the time it took for him to alter position the tiger vanished.

Caldwell described the tiger as having a maltese base colour which changed to deep blue on the undersides. The stripes appeared to be similar to those on an orange tiger. He called the tiger "Bluebeard".

Though he never caught the cat, villagers confirmed the presence of 'black devils' roaming the area.   

The image shown here, and on the next page, depict a blue tiger as it may have appeared to Caldwell. His son also noted seeing maltese coloured fur caught on trees and bushes. He never reported a personal sighting of a live cat.

Other blue tiger sightings:

Other very occasional sightings have been claimed of bluish-toned tigers, particularly in the Fujian Province. This site has personally had one report from the son of a US Army soldier who served in Korea during the Korean war. His father is certain he sighted a blue tiger in the mountains there, near what is now the Demilitarized Zone.

Our problem is that no firm proof has come to light in the way of expert reports or amateur/professional photographic evidence.

Though Caldwell was most certainly quite reliable, one report does not provide the evidence required to establish this animal existed. Experts remain highly skeptical, with some suggesting maltese tigers may simply be orange-coloured cats coated in mud.

In support of the blue tiger theory, maltese coloured cats certainly do exist. The most common is a domestic breed, but blue bobcats and lynxes have also been recorded and there is a little-known genetic combination which results in blue tonings. On top of this, for a very long time experts considered the black tiger mythical. We now have several pelts to prove otherwise.

Something we can probably conclude is that maltese tigers were of the South Chinese subspecies. Fujian Province is the area most famed for the blue colouring and that was once a stronghold for this tiger. But few, if any, of these tigers exist in the wild now and the number of blue sightings is out of proportion to the tiny population (perhaps 30 cats) which may remain. Admittedly, inbreeding produces some odd colour combinations, but this usually tends towards melanism; blue is not known to be a side effect.  

Maltese Tigers - Page 1: The Myth Of The Maltese Tiger | 2: Cryptozoological Artwork

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Artwork With Thanks To William M. Rebsamen
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