An exotic cat was fatally shot after it attacked a 6-year-old child and her mother in Bloomington over the weekend, police said.
The cat, identified as a caracal, was walking down the street Sunday when a witness reported it attacked a 6-year-old child in the 700 block of West Locust, authorities said. The witness called 911 and helped the girl’s mother get the child away, Bloomington Police spokesman John Fermon said.
Officers arrived at the scene to find the cat in the backyard of a home, where it stayed until animal control arrived, according to authorities.
“When the officer saw the cat initailly, he noted it looked sickly. It was acting erratic, was eating a rat and just shaking it a whole bunch so he thought it may be rabid or had something wrong with it,” Fermon said.
As animal control arrived at the scene, Fermon said the cat started approaching the officer and a crowd of people who had gathered behind him.
Because the animal had already attacked, police said the officer shot it in the midsection.
“The officer made the decision based on the fact that [the cat] had already attacked a 6-year-old and an adult woman,” Fermon said. “And it was walking towards other people that may be injured or seriously injured.”
The animal died at the scene and the child, who had visible bite marks and scratches, was being treated for her injuries. Her mother also suffered scratches, Fermon said. Their conditions were not immediately known.
Police said the caracal was known to the area and its owner was given ordinance violations, but further information on what the violations were wasn’t released.
According to the Chicago Zoological Society, caracals are often found in Africa and parts of Asia, though they are scarce.
Bloomington, Illinois is located about 140 miles southwest of Chicago.