The owners of an elderly cat named Baby say their pet's sudden reputation as a fearless mauler of pit bull dogs is completely undeserved.
Betty Jean Thompson, 78, and her husband, Del, said they are mystified by the public interest in an incident that happened Monday evening on the front lawn of their home in Saanich.
Thompson said she was tending her garden when a group of women walking seven large dogs approached on the sidewalk and one of the dogs showed a friendly interest in her.
Beside her lay Baby, the stray, cream-coloured cat that adopted the Thompsons almost 16 years ago.
"She's kind of a slow sort of thinking cat, but one thing is she is very protective of me."
Thompson said the dog crossed the lawn. She said she warned the woman walking three of the animals that a cat was nearby, and the walker immediately tried to tug her pet back toward the sidewalk.
Dog owner's says it happened otherwise
But the dog's owner, Javiera Rodriguez, offered a different version of events. She said she and three other women involved in a canine walking group were strolling by Thompson's property with seven dogs when a cat leapt unprovoked from the bushes and latched onto the face of a three-year-old pit bull, Bandida.
Thompson agreed that her cat "set on" one of the pit bulls that was on the property, but she says the cat did not leap out of bushes to attack the dog.
"There is no ambush about it," she said. "Somebody is blowing this all up."
By the time the two animals were separated, the dog and one of the walkers had been hurt, and Thompson said Baby was hanging limp but uninjured from the jaws of the surprised pooch.
Rodriguez said she was surprised when she called the municipality and discovered Saanich doesn't have a bylaw on aggressive cats, which she said is unfair because of restrictions placed on dogs.
"Our dogs, if they're aggressive, need to be muzzled and on leash at all times. I don't understand why that isn't happening with cats," she said in calling for the municipality to change its animal-control bylaw.
"If you have an aggressive animal, regardless of what it is, it should be kept inside. There should be some regulation."
Besides wounding Bandida, the cat also sent Kyla Grover, one of the dog walkers, to hospital with scratch and bite injuries on her left hand. She received vaccinations and antibiotics.
Grover lamented what she called a double-standard that people place on pit bulls.
"A lot of people think that pit bulls are bred to fight and kill and they're not. They're really sweet-natured and gentle dogs," she said.
"If Bandida had hurt that cat she would probably be deemed dangerous and euthanized, even though the cat started it."
'The cat was just trying to protect me'
Thompson said the cat was simply acting defensively after seeing a dog wander in her owner's direction.
"The cat was just trying to protect me and felt it was in her rights," she said.
The Thompsons paid about $220 in veterinary bills that Rodriguez brought to their home the next day.
By Beth Leighton and Geordon Omand in Vancouver
The Canadian Press