Large cat scratches Santa in N.J.

December 10, 2008 3:04:03 PM PST
47-year-old Jonathan Bebbington of Vineland is nursing some bite wounds. The prison locksmith who likes to dress up like Santa this time of year was posing for pictures Sunday at the Hamitlon Township PetSmart's annual Santa Paws event when Christina Haughey of Egg Harbor Township arrived with her pixie bobcat Benny.

Things did not go well for the 8-month-old kitty, who is 90% bobcat and 10% domestic cat.

"You could tell the cat was kind of stressing out and we got it up for the pictures and we figured maybe it would calm down a little bit if it got away from the dogs and that's when he bit me," Bebbington said.

"Santa was trying to get him to sit on his lap and he wasn't having it. It was just a bad day, bad day for Benny," Haughey said.

Worse for Jonathan, because after it was all over and this photo was snapped, folks realized no one knew anything about the bobcat or where it came from.

Jonathan was facing a series of rabies shots if he didn't find the cat and the owner.

Once Christina heard about it she did come forward and Atlantic County health officials confirm her paperwork shows Benny is up to date on his vaccinations, though he's confined to the property for two weeks as a precaution.

The SPCA and state wildlife officials are also involved. Because Benny's a hybrid a permit is not required.

"I feel really bad and this will never happen again," Haughey said.

"I've had parrots on me, snakes. The worse accident I had before this was a little dog that peed on me," Bebbington said.

Jonathan Bebbington says the biting incident hasn't soured him on playing Santa. He loves doing it.

From now on, though, when he's making a list and checking it twice he's going to find out who's naughty and bites!

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