Exotic cat leaves perch at Texas apartments

By Jennifer Alexander
Waco Tribune-Herald staff writer
Thursday, July 13, 2006

The bobcat that drew spectators to a tree it was perched in at University Apartments left its nest by nightfall Wednesday.

Waco Animal Control officers called back to apartment managers around 8 p.m. Wednesday to find out the status of the feline, which was discovered lounging in the tree during the early afternoon. But upon checking, the animal had left, said Brenda Thompson, assistant manager of the apartments.

When animal control officers first saw the cat at the South Waco complex on Primrose Drive, one officer determined that it was a Bengal cat, a large hybrid breed that is a cross between an Asian leopard and a domestic house cat.

A Cameron Park Zoo employee who saw a photo of the animal said she suspects it was actually a bobcat.

“My best bet is that it was a pet that got away,” zookeeper Carolyn Atherton said.

Atherton said that although she is not familiar with Bengals, the tree-dwelling guest had all the markings of a bobcat.

Bobcats are known by their spotted coats and tufts of fur on the ears and cheeks, as well as the bobbed tail. They are not endangered and have a large range throughout Texas, including McLennan County.

Some breeders sell bobcats as pets, and Atherton cautioned that owning an exotic cat without a permit is illegal in Texas.

Thompson said the cat was spotted by a maintenance worker and that she did not believe it belonged to a resident.

The cat appeared relaxed while in the tree, dozing off and resettling between branches, and it seemed unfazed by cars driving by. Animal control officers had decided to let it come down on its own, Thompson said.

By early evening the cat had moved to a higher branch, but left shortly thereafter, probably in search of food and water.

Bobcats are active during the day, Atherton said, but spotting one is extremely rare.

“This is extremely unusual behavior, mainly because they’re shy,” she said. “He has to have been raised by hand.”

jalexander@wacotrib.com
757-5748

http://www.wacotrib.com

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