‘That Cat's Gonna Turn Me Into Hamburger:' Vt. Man Recounts Run-in With Rabid Bobcat

Mike Peabody of Windsor is now being treated to ensure he stays safe from rabies

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A Vermont man is undergoing medical treatment after a terrifying encounter with a wild animal that he said burst right into his house.

Wednesday, the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife said the bobcat that injured Mike Peabody of Windsor last week was rabid.

It was Friday the 13th, appropriately enough, when just off Main Street in Windsor, Peabody’s day turned into a real-life horror movie.

"It’s real scary," Peabody told NECN & NBC10 Boston Wednesday. "When I saw that cat coming at me, I was scared!"

His wounds to his leg are still healing, as he showed a news camera Wednesday. They were left by the claws of a male bobcat, said Peabody, who added the cat’s mouth also may have come into contact with his leg — but since everything happened so quickly, he couldn’t be sure. 

Peabody recalled the wild animal bursting right into his house through a magnetic screen door used as a cat door, chasing his domesticated cat from outside. The bobcat stalked its prey to the bathroom, Peabody said.

"I don’t think I was in the bathroom more than three or four seconds," Peabody guessed, emphasizing how quickly everything happened.

Peabody, 70, feared the wild animal was about to pounce on his pet, so said he kicked it before it could. That’s when the invader focused its attention on Mike.

"I was thinking, 'That cat‘s gonna turn me into hamburger,'" Peabody remembered. "And it could’ve — real easily."

After he was injured, Peabody trapped the bobcat in the bathroom.

The Windsor Police Department answered a call unlike any Chief Jennifer Frank had ever gotten before.

"There’s always a first time for everything," Frank said, agreeing wholeheartedly with a remark from NECN & NBC10 Boston that it is hopefully also the last time.

Officials with the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife officials came and put down the bobcat, through a window. The animal has since tested positive for rabies, the department said Wednesday.

Peabody is undergoing a course of shots and other treatments to protect him from getting the deadly virus.

Frank explained no Windsor police officers, EMTs, or any other first responders were injured by the bobcat, so do not require rabies prevention treatments following the incident.

"We don’t want anyone to live in fear," said Col. Jason Batchelder, the leader of Vermont’s warden service, referring to wildlife in the state.

Batchelder said he could locate records of only six documented cases of dangerous interactions between a bobcat and a human or a housepet in the past 19 years, though acknowledged some cases may have never gone reported — especially those involving pets.

NECN & NBC10 Boston reported on several of those cases, including a 2018 incident that saw another rabid bobcat scratch and bite multiple people in the White River Junction area before it was killed. 

In March, a Barre woman described how she fended off a bobcat trying to snatch her chihuahua, named Tiny.

The colonel recommended people call a warden if they notice wildlife is lethargic, hanging around an area too long, or if it isn’t afraid of humans — in case it’s sick or dangerous.

“If something’s passing through your yard, there’s no reason to call us,” Batchelder said. “It’s nice to see and enjoy it. But if it’s acting strangely or it’s conflicting with your pets, then certainly, call us.”

Information on contacting a warden is available here.

Chief Frank advised one lesson in this story is to leave it to the experts to shoo away problem animals. Peabody agreed, adding he is grateful to police, fire and rescue, wardens, and everyone at the hospital who helped him through this emergency.

"Everybody involved did a good job — except the bobcat," Peabody said, chuckling.

Peabody said his pet cat is staying indoors in quarantine for 45 days, to ensure it doesn’t become sick after its scary run-in with the rabid bobcat.

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