TAMPA, FL (AP) – A Florida contractor says he was attacked by a bobcat inside a woman’s condo, but the animal’s owner says her feline is no predator, just a 10-pound domestic longhair kitty named Calli.
The contractor, Marcos Hernandez, filed a lawsuit in Tampa on Dec. 19, alleging condo owner Christine Lee illegally kept a bobcat inside her unit. He said a bobcat scratched him on May 16, causing serious injuries after he entered the condo to conduct a fire safety inspection.
Hernandez was in the condo alone, Lee said, something that shouldn’t have happened. She said an employee from the building was supposed to accompany him inside.
“This has gotten so blown out of proportion, it’s ridiculous,” Lee said.
According to the lawsuit, Hernandez said he was attacked by an unleashed bobcat and suffered permanent injuries. He’s seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages. Hernandez said Lee had a duty to provide a safe environment and failed to warn him about the bobcat.
Lee said that’s nonsense. She only has a fluffy, tortoiseshell-colored housecat and a sleeker black cat named Max. She doesn’t know which cat may have scratched Hernandez, but Max’s color would likely rule him out.
She has not yet retained an attorney.
“I’m not denying he got scratched, what he was doing to get scratched, I don’t know,” she said, adding that when she arrived home that day, Calli was “cowering and scared.” Max was underneath her bed.
Calli, who is 3 1/2, is friendly, Lee said. But “just like any animal, she is guarded. If they feel threatened, they may attack, scratch or bite.”
Soon after the incident, she was informed by building management that Hernandez had been scratched, but she hadn’t heard of the lawsuit until this week, when the Tampa Bay Times first wrote about the case and took a photo of Calli. Hernandez is also suing the condo building’s owner.
Lee said she has never owned a bobcat.
“A bobcat does look much different than this. They’re much bigger than this 10-pound little thing,” she said. “It’s a litigious society and here we are.”
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, wild bobcats in the state are about twice the size of a domestic cat, up to about 35 pounds. They are tan to yellowish brown, with dark spots. A wildlife official visited Lee’s apartment on Thursday, the newspaper report.
Hernandez’ attorney’s office said they were not going to comment at this time.