Friday, January 19, 2018
Opinion

Daniel Ruth: It wasn’t a bobcat in that apartment after all, but who’d be surprised if it were?

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.

Comments
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislatureís abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders ó and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workersí compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workersí compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workersí compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18

Another voice: Why just Florida?

Cynicism has always been a part of politics, but rarely are politicians so brazen and self-serving as President Donald Trump and his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, have been over the past week. First they announced a new offshore drilling plan that ...
Published: 01/16/18
Editorial: Kingís legacy still relevant in digital age

Editorial: Kingís legacy still relevant in digital age

Todayís holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldnít be more timely. At a moment when the nationís civic dialogue is choking on personal and political division, it is hard to remember an earlier time when role models were role m...
Published: 01/15/18

Another voice: 38 minutes of fear in Hawaii

In 1938, Orson Welles panicked the nation with a false alarm about a Martian invasion in the radio broadcast The War of the Worlds. That was farfetched, of course. But what happened on Saturday, sadly, was not so hard to imagine ó or believe.Authorit...
Published: 01/14/18
Updated: 01/16/18
Editorial: Floridaís chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

Editorial: Floridaís chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

As it has for decades, Florida stubbornly clings to an inhumane, inefficient and indefensible system of justice that permanently sentences more than 1.5 million residents to second-class citizenship. This state automatically revokes the right to vote...
Published: 01/13/18
Editorial: Speak out against Trumpís vulgar remarks

Editorial: Speak out against Trumpís vulgar remarks

President Donald Trumpís vulgar outbursts during a White House meeting on immigration are racist and indefensible no matter how he parses them. They are not presidential, they undermine U.S. foreign relations and they do not reflect Americaís values....
Published: 01/12/18