Cat-eating alligator puts Palm Bay neighbors on edge

8:31 AM, May 11, 2011   |    comments
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    PALM BAY, Florida (FL Today) - Robert Geraci Sr. was sipping coffee and browsing the Internet to catch up on the Boston Celtics when he heard a violent splash in the canal behind his home.

    "It was the alligator, he's been there for a while. I looked down and I saw something in his mouth, I thought it was a turtle but I said, 'Oh my God, it's a cat,' " the 70-year-old Palm Bay retiree said.

    Pictures: Alligators wrangled, hunted around Florida
    See Also: Gator causes problems in Seminole

    "That poor thing, it probably was a feral cat. The gators are amusing as long as they don't bother anyone, but when they do something like this. . . you have to pay attention," said Geraci, standing on his porch and cuddling a small Papillon dog named Angie.

    The attack came about 7 a.m. Tuesday along the concrete retaining wall of a neighborhood canal at Palm Bay Estates, a 55-and-older mobile home park just off U.S. 1. The alligator, said Geraci, looked to be at least 8 feet long and sat near a large drainage pipe. It thrashed the cat for several minutes and returned about 30 minutes later for the carcass, Geraci said.

    Now, Florida Fish and Wildlife authorities, who were out at the mobile home park Tuesday, plan to send a trapper to the ordinarily quiet neighborhood to catch the cold-blooded, cat killer.

    "Typically, if it's 4-foot long and above, it's destroyed," said James Dean, a Florida Fish and Wildlife trapper. "It could have been hungry or someone could have been feeding him. Once I ran into a man who was feeding an alligator bagels and cream cheese," Dean said.

    Neighbors, Geraci said, know to be careful with pets around the water, which feeds into Turkey Creek and the Indian River Lagoon.

    "I feel bad about it, but the majority of the people want the trapper to get the alligator out of here."

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    J.D. Gallop, Florida Today

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