HALLSTEAD -- The owners of a certain breed of cat are coming to the animals' defense.
After Newswatch 16 reports this week about two bengal cats biting an owner then escaping in Shamokin, WNEP has been bombarded by Bengal cat lovers throughout the world.
They say the cats are not wild animals and are very safe pets.
Breeders of the animals say while the cats may be decendents of an Asian Leopard Cat, there's nothing wild about them, and certainly nothing to fear.
A breeder of Bengal cats in Susquehanna County said they are just like any other pet cat.
The Bengals have the spots of a leopard on what appears to be any other pet cat. Joy Powell of Temptaition Bengals near Hallstead says that's the point.
"They have been bred to resemble a wild animal but give people the intelligent alternative that is truely a domestic pet," said Powell. "It's for people who want an exotic look without an exotic personality."
For seven years, Powell has been breeding the Bengal cats here near Hallstead, she says they are at least four generations away from their Asian Leopard Cat ancestors.
"Bengals are not wild animals," added Powell. "They are 100 percent domestic kitty cats and they are bred to be 100 percent pets."
Many bengal cat lovers were outraged when they saw the story about two bengals that escaped in Shamokin after the owner says one bit her husband.
Some in Shamokin feared wild animals were on the loose. Police even called them potentially dangerous.
But Powell says any animal can bite if they're raised wrong.
"A feral cat is a feral cat," she said. "It doesn't matter whether it's Siamese, Maine Coon or your local barn cat. If it's not raised around people and given the appropriate attention, it is going to be feral."
Powell points out Bengal kittens are as lovable as any other kitten. She raises them to fit right in with families.
"They are just like another cat," added Powell. "They get along with people and dogs and cats. They play and they sleep and they eat and use the litter. Everything a regular cat does, these cats do."
Powell's daughter Kyra grew up playing with the Bengals and the family's regular pet cat.
She says Bengals certainly aren't scary.
"They're amazing," said Kyra. "It's just like living with any other cat except they're Bengals."
She said it is tough not to get attached to all the kittens born at her home.
"I cried every time one went home," added Kyra. "I grew so attached to them. They're so sweet."
Bengal cat owners say don't let the action of one tarnish a whole breed.
"They're sweet companions they get along with all other pets and all other people," said Joy. "They're very friendly animals. They're not anything anyone needs to be afraid of by no means."
Bengal cats can be very expensive. At Joy Powell's Temptation Bengals in Susuquehanna County the cost can range from $600 a kitten to more than $2,000.
They come with paperwork, just like top breeds of dogs.
As for those Bengals in Shamokin, they still haven't been found.