STAFFORD, N.J. (AP) — Rocky's mother was 98 percent bobcat.
But because a DNA test couldn't determine the 38-pound feline's father's lineage, a judge ruled Friday that the runaway cat be returned to a New Jersey woman.
Municipal Court Judge Damian Murray ruled that Ginny Fine can regain custody of Rocky after a mitochondrial DNA test found that the cat's mother was 98 percent bobcat, but couldn't determine its father's lineage, the Asbury Park Press reported (http://on.app.com/1oA0Am1 ).
Mitochondrial DNA is inherited solely from the mother.
"The bottom line is, Rocky goes home," Murray said.
Fine, who has maintained that Rocky is a hybrid bobcat and Maine coon, said she was shocked by the ruling.
"I don't even know what to say. I was not expecting that," she said outside of court.
She would have needed a special permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection to get Rocky back if it was determined to be a purebred bobcat. The permit is only issued for zoos, animal exhibitors, for scientific purposes or for agencies that own animals for advertising or acting, according to the DEP.
Fine pleaded guilty to letting the animal get loose and was fined $1,000 after Rocky ran away from her home for a second time in March.
The cat was missing for 12 days, leading police to hunt through the woods. It was lured back on April 7 and has been at the Popcorn Park Zoo in Lacey since then.
Murray ordered that the cat be kept in an enclosure that will be periodically inspected by the state.
Information from: Asbury Park (N.J.) Press, http://www.app.com