Article Courtesy of The Tampa Bay Times
By Dan Sullivan
Published January 9, 2018
TAMPA — Christine Lee wants the world to know she does
not own a bobcat.
She spent much of Thursday fending off phone calls from friends and news
reporters who had learned of a lawsuit alleging she does.
The civil complaint claims a bobcat attacked a contractor
who entered her home on the 18th floor of the Skypoint
Condominiums in downtown Tampa.
That man, Marcos Hernandez, is suing Lee and the Skypoint
Condominium Association for unspecified damages he says he
suffered as a result of a creature clawing his arms,
according to court and police records.
But the feline in question is not a bobcat, Lee demonstrated
Thursday. Rather, Calli is a domestic long-haired cat with a
fluffy mane of black, brown, blond and gray.
"How he could even think this was a bobcat, I don’t know,"
Lee said as she cuddled Calli. "He must not know cats."
Calli was a kitten when Lee rescued her from a salvage yard
in Georgia about four years ago. She lives with Lee, her
husband, Rex, and a black cat named Max.
The incident at the center of Hernandez’s civil complaint
happened May 16. Hernandez visited the apartment to conduct
a scheduled fire safety inspection, Lee said. He arrived
about noon, earlier than she expected.
"All I know is he was in here alone and he must have
startled her," Lee said.
In a lawsuit, a contractor alleges that he was
attacked by a bobcat while working in Christine Lee's condo at
Skypoint in downtown Tampa. But Lee says her long-haired house cat,
Calli, pictured here with her, is no bobcat.
Upon entering, Hernandez was scratched, he reported. Tampa police records
state that he was bleeding and was taken to Tampa General Hospital.
Lee arrived home at 12:40 p.m., after Hernandez had left, she said.
Calli was near the front door. Max, who also looks nothing like a bobcat,
was in a bedroom.
Condo rules require owners to be present when an inspection is conducted or
cage their animals, Lee said. But she said she didn’t expect the inspection
to occur until late afternoon. She was surprised upon her return to learn
that Calli had attacked the man.
The next day, an employee with Hillsborough County’s Pet Resource Center
visited and photographed Calli. Lee was cited for not having Calli’s rabies
certification readily available, but she later produced it.
That was the end of it. Until the lawsuit.
A flurry of media reports Thursday brought Lee to tears. Calli hissed at a
reporter who came to visit.
"I’m agitated, and she’s agitated," Lee said.
Among her visitors Thursday were officials with the Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission. A spokeswoman confirmed the agency was
looking into the matter. Lee said they would put out a statement.
"They were like, ‘Really?’?" she said. "I said ‘You’re welcome to
investigate the premises and see that I don’t have a bobcat.’?"
Lee doesn’t know what to make of the lawsuit. She has yet to hire a lawyer.
"It’s not a wild animal," she said. "It’s just a cat."