I sent the following to the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Curious, I checked out http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28162817/ and that is a bobcat. I have worked with bobcats for more than 20 years and have 47 of them at Big Cat Rescue. The cat is not a hybrid, not a Pixie Bob. The owner is lying. See dozens of bobcat photos for yourself at BigCatRescue.org Carole Baskin CEO of Big Cat Rescue
Pixie Bob breeders also commented at the site that the cat in Santa’s lap is not a Pixie Bob.
By Allison Steele and Sam Wood – Philadelphia Inquirer
6:52 PM CST, December 10, 2008
PHILADELPHIA – Professional Santa Jonathan Bebbington can relax: A feline that bit him last weekend at a New Jersey pet store is not the wild bobcat it appeared to be.
Bebbington, 47, of Vineland, N.J., was playing Santa at a Mays Landing, N.J., PetSmart last Sunday for a charity event when the cat bit him, sparking a flurry of concern for whether Santa would need rabies shots.
According to Atlantic County, N.J., health officials and the cat’s owner, the animal is a pixie-bob, a domesticated cat that bears some resemblance to its wild kin.
Bebbington was posing with animals for a fundraiser for Penny Angel’s Beagle Rescue when the owner, Christine Haughey of Egg Harbor, N.J., brought the large cat into the store on a leash and harness.
“There were dogs around, and the poor thing was terrified,” Bebbington said, who picked up the cat to calm it down. Bebbington has five years of experience with working with dogs and cats as Santa.
“It was a beautiful animal,” he added.
Just after a photographer snapped a picture, the cat sunk its teeth into Bebbington’s hand and wrist several times, drawing blood. Haughey left before anyone could ask her about the cat.
Initially, Bebbington worried that he’d have to undergo a series of rabies vaccinations and postpone his holiday vacation. But after Bebbington appeared Tuesday night on WCAU-TV in Philadelphia, Haughey came forward.
Haughey told Atlantic County health officials she bought “Benny” as a baby from a breeder. Benny had a permit and had received all the necessary vaccines, she said, including a rabies shot.
She will have to keep the cat inside until state health officials have determined that he is not rabid.
Meanwhile, Bebbington’s bites are healing nicely.
“I’m just glad it’s all turning out for the better,” he said.
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org
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