Image: Ashera exotic cat
Ramon C. Purcell  /  Lifestyle Pets
One mighty mouser: The Ashera can grow up to weigh 30 pounds.
By Brian Tracey Associate editor

It's no great shock that cat lovers can get a little excessive when it comes to their feline friends. But one company, banking on the fact there are more than a few prospective pet owners willing to part with some serious ka-ching for a kitten, is selling a designer breed of cat that costs $22,000.

The Ashera, bred by Los Angeles-based Lifestyle Pets, "is a new ultra-exotic breed of domestic cat that already has wealthy animal devotees paying to get on the waiting list," the company press release claims.

The pricey pet is said to have been produced by cross-breeding an African Serval and an Asian Leopard Cat with a domestic feline. While Lifestyle Pets admits this type hybrid breeding has been done before, "the Ashera is unique in that genetic monitoring is used to standardize breeding and ensure that the defining features and size of the [animal] remain exceptionally consistent." And like most other super-luxury items, the company says it will sell only 100 Asheras per year worldwide, with only 50 being sold to U.S. customers

And after dropping 22 large, potential buyers should also be prepared to budget for a big supply of Fancy Feast, as the company says the Ashera can grow up to weigh 30 pounds.

Well, for all that money, at least now you can get the yappy Chihuahua next door to finally shut up.

Not-so-bad ideas

  • This could be a plot line for the next episode of The Office: A balky bank fax printed a message that was misinterpreted as a bomb threat this week, leading authorities to evacuate more than a dozen neighboring businesses and a day care center.

The manager of the Bank of America branch in Ashland, Mass. called police after receiving a fax containing images of a lit match and a bomb with a fuse, bank spokesman Ernesto Anguilla said.

But text explaining the fax was an internal bank promotion failed to transmit. The missing text included the phrases "The countdown begins" and "Small business commitment week June 4-8," according to a copy circulated by police.

"The fax machine malfunctioned, so a partial image came through that looked somewhat suspicious," Anguilla said.

Fears also arose because the branch received a suspicious package delivered by a customer around the same time, police said. A State Police bomb squad searched the bank branch and checked out the package, which was a delivery of documents.

About 15 small businesses in a shopping plaza were evacuated for about three hours, including a day care center with about 30 children, Ashland Police Chief Scott Rohmer said.

And we thought only abbreviated e-mails get misinterpreted.

  • A Dutch reality television show in which a supposedly dying woman had to pick one of three contestants to whom she would donate a kidney was revealed as an elaborate hoax on Friday.

Newspaper De Telegraaf said BNN would broadcast The Big Donor Show on Friday during which the 37-year-old woman will choose from three people with kidney problems.

She was to make her choice based on the contestants' history, profile and conversations with their families and friends. Viewers would be able to send text messages advising her during the 80-minute show.

In the last minutes of the program, she was revealed as a healthy actress and program makers stunned viewers by saying ”The Big Donor Show” was a hoax.

The show, which the broadcaster had said aimed to focus attention on a shortage of donor organs in the Netherlands, was condemned by Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende ahead of transmission and sparked controversy worldwide.

That's good, otherwise people might think it's just a sleazy ploy to boost audience ratings.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


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