A predatory African cat caught fighting a German Shepherd last month was turned over to a woman in upstate New York who is approved by federal authorities to take care of her, animal control officials said Thursday.
The 8-month-old, 20 pound caracal – referred to as “beautiful” by animal control officers – was given to a woman who has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to keep exotic pets.
The cat left Prince William County Saturday morning with her new owner and traveled to Queensbury, about 50 miles north of Albany, N.Y., said Detective Samson Newsome, Prince William County Police Department Animal Control Bureau director.
The caracal was captured in Nokesville on Sept. 28 after tangling with a German shepherd on a horse farm. The cat got out of her own home that night and wandered onto the horse farm, where the large dog chased her. The German shepherd may have chased the caracal thinking it was a house cat or a rabbit due to its long, pointy ears. The ears enable the caracal – named Katar or Katisha – to pick up the faint sounds given off by prey.
After the fight was over, the dog had scratches on his nose and the cat was unscathed. In the meantime, the dog’s owner called animal control authorities, who caught her with a catch-pole that has a snare on the end. The first time they tried to catch her, the caracal jumped right through.
But despite the cat’s endowment of superior senses and hunting ability, she is docile and friendly. After local authorities captured her, she spent her 10-day quarantine period in a large crate playing with balls and toys like a family tabby.
Caracals are proficient at catching birds in mid-air and can take several down during one jump, Newsome said.
Exotic pets are illegal in Prince William County. The owner had to find a new home for the cat, donate it to a zoo, or relinquish control to the Prince William shelter.
Animal Control decided euthanizing the cat was not an option, nor was releasing her into the wild. Purchased from a breeder in Tacoma, Wash., she was a fourth generation domesticated animal and has not developed survival skills, Newsome said. If she were released into the wild it would be in Africa.
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.
In the wild they eat guinea fowl, rodents, antelope and sheep. They have also been known to attack eagles, lizards and even cobras.
This caracal is a bit pickier, though. For two days after her capture, while animal control tried to locate her owner, the cat refused dry food, tuna fish and all other morsels animal wardens offered.
She fasted until her owner brought her favorite meal – chicken and rice cooked in a crock pot.
Staff writer Daniel Drew can be reached at (703) 878-8065