He’s been on the BBC, CNN and YouTube — and is now known as “The World’s Ugliest Cat” — but deep down, Ugly Bat Boy is really a sweetheart.

(video link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcVZYabQEnY&feature=player_embedded)

“We just had a snuggling episode now,” Melissa LaRoche, receptionist at Exeter Veterinary Hospital in Exeter, N.H., told AOL News. “He gets quite loving and snuggly.”

But he wasn’t always that way.

Before becoming a permanent resident at the hospital, Ugly Bat Boy terrorized the sleepy New England town. Once owned by a client of the hospital, he had to be surrendered.

“Before he took up residence at the hospital, there’d be reports from the public of seeing ‘some sort of creature’ on the loose,” said Dr. Laurie Stewart, owner of Veterinary Dermatology of New England. “He certainly earned his name.”

But then, he came into the care of Dr. Stephen Bassett, who runs Exeter Veterinary Hospital. And for the past nine years, he’s been the perfect pet.

“He’s our little monster,” said Bassett, who gave Ugly Bat Boy his name.

“At first, we called him ‘Yoda,’ but he just looked so much like the Bat Boy from the Weekly World News tabloid.” These days, the doctor said, they just call him “Ugs.”

As for what exactly Ugs is, no one really knows. Bassett said he believes a pairing in the town is producing cats with this particular fur pattern.

“I spayed a female with skin and coat remarkably like this about four years ago,” he said. “And periodically I run into other cats that look similar to Ugs.”

“It’s definitely a genetic mutation,” Stewart, a veterinary dermatologist, told AOL News.

“They did a cheek swap and DNA test on Ugs a few years ago,” she said. “None of the markers of a rex or a sphynx [two hairless breeds] were present.

“Just as baldness is a genetic mutation in humans, I believe that Ugly Bat Boy’s skin and fur pattern is a result of years of breeding from descendants with this genetic mutation.”

Regardless of how Ugs got his distinctive coat (or rather, lack thereof), he’s comfortable in his own skin. “He definitely runs the office,” LaRoche said.

“We have five cats around the office, three of which are permanent residents,” she said. “Ugs is definitely the boss.”

When he’s not sleeping in his normal spot — on top of the monitor of the reception computer — he’s off putting the other cats in their place. “He’s not mean, he’s just frisky,” LaRoche said.

And he’s not shy for attention from picture-seekers, either. “When he sees a camera, he pretty much poses,” Bassett told us. “He’s become quite the star.”

(news source http://www.aolnews.com/2010/12/23/worlds-ugliest-cat-a-snuggly-sweetheart/)