Prince William animal control authorities captured a caracal — a predatory African cat — after it fought with a large German shepherd Sunday in Nokesville.
The dog’s owner, who also has horses on his property and was concerned for their welfare, reported the caracal to animal control authorities who used a catch pole with a loop on the end to ensnare the cat.
The animal is 8 months old and weighs about 20 pounds. She will grow to be 3 feet long, according to animal control officials.
Officials said the dog chased the cat that night probably thinking she was a small house cat. Because of her long ears, the caracal also looked a bit like a rabbit.
She left scratches on the German shepherd’s nose.
But Master Detective Samson Newsome, the Prince William County Police Department’s Animal Control Bureau administrator, said the cat’s disposition is friendly — she will sit on a person’s lap while they watch television.
“She’s really very docile, very friendly,” Newsome said. The cat, named Katar or Katisha, was the fourth generation in her family bred in captivity, her owner, who lives near Nokesville Road, told authorities.
The animal was purchased from a breeder in Tacoma, Wash., by her owner, whose name has not been released, Newsome said.
Keeping an exotic animal is a class-three misdemeanor in Prince William County. Newsome said the owner has been very cooperative and charges are pending.
The owner brought the cat food and a calcium supplement Tuesday, because the animal refused to eat the dry cat food and tuna fish provided by the shelter. She will eat only chicken and rice cooked together in a crock pot.
The owner claims the caracal is up to date on rabies shots, officials said. They are checking the animal’s history. Newsome would not comment about veterinary involvement in care of the creature.
Caracals are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent, parts of south Asia and all of Africa, except sand deserts and rain forests, according to the Cat Survival Trust. They feed on guinea fowl, rodents, antelope and sheep. They have been known to attack eagles, lizards and even a cobra.
The animals are proficient at catching birds in mid-air. Newsome said they can take several birds down in one jump.
With unusually large ears designed for picking up faint sounds, the caracal is a hunting machine, known as one of the fastest animals of its ilk. It is referred to — inaccurately — as the desert lynx, Newsome said.
The cat’s owner can relinquish control to the Animal Control Bureau, donate it to a zoo or sell it. A zoo would be an inappropriate environment because the cat has been domesticated, Newsome said. If she gives the cat to the county shelter, officials there will find a suitable home for it.