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Aunt refuses to destroy cat that mauled 2-year-old

A woman whose pet jungle cat mauled her 2-year-old niece whisked the animal to Iowa, defying a court order to have it killed and tested for rabies.

Sari Mintz, who owns the exotic 20-pound cat, named Cabo, could go to jail for contempt of court. Her niece is undergoing a series of possibly unnecessary rabies shots.

The child, Alice Mintz, needed 200 stitches on her face and scalp after she wandered into her aunt's back yard during a Father's Day party. Cabo, who previously had bitten three people, was on a tether.

DuPage County Judge Bonnie Wheaton, acting Friday at the request of the girl's parents, ordered the cat killed and the carcass examined. By then, Mintz had spirited away her pet to the clinic in Iowa City, Iowa, where she bought it.

She's holding the 3-year-old cat there for rabies observation, said her attorney, Frank Howard. If Cabo exhibits no signs of rabies, Mintz will donate her to a zoo.

"She holds the animal very close to her," Howard said. "It's just a terribly unfortunate circumstance. It's her niece as well, after all."

On Sunday, the girl's parents said that, "for the sake of family harmony," the cat should not be destroyed.

They also asked the state's attorney to stop pursuing legal remedy.

State officials, however, think otherwise. They want the cat returned, said Nancy Wolfe, chief of the civil division. Mintz faces jail time until she complies with the court order, Wolfe said.

Mintz, a spokeswoman for the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, could not be reached Monday.

Alice began treatment for rabies over the weekend and was resting at home Monday after having her stitches removed, said her family's attorney, Richard Stavins.

She will need two rabies shots in her head and buttocks over the next two weeks unless the Cabo is found to be free of rabies.

Cabo has had rabies shots, but a veterinarian testified Friday that the shots are designed for domesticated cats and are not federally approved for use on exotic Asian jungle cats.

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