Xavier Garza was playing outside his home in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, on Friday when an animal wandered into the yard.
Xavier thought it was a kitty.
The animal was "just staring at me," Xavier told KVRR in Fargo, North Dakota.
And then it did more than just stare. It jumped on Xavier's face.
"He got on my face ... and he bite me or scratch," Xavier told KVLY in Fargo.
Xavier fought back and gave the animal — black with yellow eyes — a taste of its own medicine. He bit the animal's ear, he told local TV stations.
"I pushed him and I bite him," he told KVLY.
Wildlife officials aren't sure what attacked Xavier. But judging by the severity of the scratch on the boy's face, which required 16 stitches to close up, hospital staff don't think it was a cat, reported WCCO in Minneapolis. Xavier also had to get rabies shots, just in case.
"The spread between the claws and the marks left on the boy's head were too far apart, they felt, to match up to a normal cat,” Detroit Lakes chief of police, Steve Todd, told KVLY. He showed pictures of Xavier's wounds to a local vet and animal conservationists.
Wildlife experts from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources think it could have been a raccoon with distemper or a fisher, according to WCCO. A neighbor told wildlife officers they saw a fisher in the neighborhood the day after the attack.
A fisher is a member of the weasel family, according to the website Defenders of Wildlife, which says they are common in the Midwest and Northeast but are one of the rarest carnivores in the Northern Rockies and Northwest. Fishers are described as solitary animals — known to travel many miles alone — and are mainly nocturnal but can be active during the day.
Xavier was attacked in the afternoon.
Todd encouraged parents to talk to their kids about how to act around wildlife and to tell them to leave animals they're not familiar with alone, he told KVRR.
Apparently Xavier's parents have already had that conversation with him, telling him "no touch animals," he told KVRR.
Rob Baden, area wildlife manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, told KVLY that Xavier did the right thing in fighting back.
"If you're getting attacked by all means, use anything you can to get that critter off you," he told KVLY.
Todd says there's no guarantee that if the traps the city set up around the area of the attack do catch an animal that it will be the one that attacked Xavier, he told KVRR.
But Xavier's older brother, who was with him during the attack, will know, he told KVRR.
He'll be looking for an animal with a chunk missing from its ear.