I admit I was a little slow picking up this Christmas story, but it’s still "entertaining" (for lack of a better word). I’ve never thought about it, but I guess there are certain risks associated with playing Santa for pet photos. I’m not one to take my pets for pictures with Santa, but many worthy groups raise funds this way. During one recent event, "Santa" was bitten by a less-than-cooperative feline named Benny, who apparently didn’t appreciate being in the company of the dogs which had also come. To make things worse, Benny wasn’t your average cat – he was a pixie-bob, a very large breed of cat that resembles the North American bobcat (but it is in fact an entirely domestic breed)(pictured at right, from NBC10). After the incident, Benny’s owners apparently produced proof of rabies vaccination, and everyone seemed fine. Besides the rabies concern, cat bites are not necessarily innocuous and severe complications can occur. That’s one aspect of the story which hopefully didn’t develop.

My point in writing this is to reiterate (again) my frequent statement that people need to make sure that their pets are properly vaccinated, even those that stay indoors all the time. Indoor cats can still bite people that visit, they can be exposed to rabid bats, and they can (not infrequently) escape. In this incident, if the cat had not had proof of rabies vaccination, a long quarantine period or even euthanasia may have been required – certainly not what anyone expects from a Santa photo-op.

And… maybe it’s not a good idea to take large cats into strange places surrounded by dogs and thrust them into the arms of a strange person…something to consider.

More information on rabies and cat bites can be found on the Worms & Germs Resources page and in our bites archives.