Címon now, admit it. When you first heard the story of a contractor claiming he had been mauled by a, ahem, bobcat in the Skypoint condominium in the middle of downtown Tampa, you might well have thought to yourself, "Well, yeah, that could have happened."
This is Florida after all, the epicenter of national weirdness.
Sure, in a state where it has been known for people to have pet pythons and cobras, even though they are lousy at fetching frisbees, why wouldnít it be possible for someone to want to co-habitate with a wild, untamed bobcat? What way big fun. I hear wild boars are a delight to have around the house, too. They come in handy during truffle season.
Alas, what seemed like yet another Sunshine State tale of strange choices for house pets now appears to be a case of mistaken felinicity.
The contractor, Marcos Hernandez, apparently has filed a lawsuit against the condoís management as well as the unitís owner, Christine Lee, alleging the so-called "bobcat" assaulted him on May 17 when he entered the apartment alone to conduct a fire inspection.
Now it is true the Las Vegas entertainers Siegfried and Roy did live under the same roof with a couple of lions, which recalls that old joke: Where did they sleep? Anywhere they wanted to.
But in this case, instead of walking in on an urban variation of Born Free, it appears Hernandez actually came eye-to-eye with 3 1/2-year-old Calli, who is really a 10-pound, long-haired house cat.
Just what prompted Calli, who indeed looked adorable in Leeís arms, to go after Hernandez isnít entirely clear. But in any event, the inspector claims he suffered numerous scratches to his arms from an unleashed beast. Ergo, enter the lawyers.
In time, all this will get hashed out before a judge. But there is a lingering, perhaps not very legal question: Why would any contractor or inspector enter oneís private dwelling to do whatever it is they are going to do without the owner of the unit being present?
Itís entirely possible, as Lee has suggested, that the presence of an unknown stranger in the condo spooked Calli and the kitty was simply defending her turf. And, oh by the way, who the heck leashes their pets when they are indoors? Well, okay, maybe if you owned an actual bobcat.
And this brings us to an essential truth of life. There are two kinds of people in this world ó cat people and dog people.
Cats are okay, I suppose, in moderation. But they are snide, condescending creatures with a sense of entitlement.
Dogs, on the other hand, are loving, loyal, playful and needy.
Had Mr. Hernandez entered our domicile unannounced and been confronted by Gracie the 13-year-old Goldendoodle and her boy toy, 2-year-old Riley, a Labradoodle, we too, might well have found ourselves the subject of litigation brought by the inspector after he had been mercilessly and relentlessly licked into submission.
In fact these two hounds routinely violate the solemn canine code of conduct. They actually like cats. Oh the shame of it all!
On our daily walks, both Gracie and Riley frequently spy the many neighborhood cats. They eagerly want to say hello in that special way that dogs express hail fellow well-met greetings.
Oddly enough, word seems to have spread throughout the cat community to be on the look-out for two gullible dogs who donít seem to understand the natural sneering relationship between the two species. See? Cats are anti-social to the best intentions.
It would be nice if Hernandez rethought his legal action and instead used his introduction to Calli as a learning experience. Cats, like so many animals, are territorial ó but also bribable.
Next time, come armed with a bag of Meow Mix.