The domestic-wild hybrid cat is a cross between a wild cat and a domestic cat. They don’t look like domestic breeds and most of them are somewhat unusual and exotic. They have a much higher motor than their domestic counterparts with intensity and energy that your house cat could not begin to match.
The domestic-wild cat hybrids are gorgeous cats with beautiful coats and distinctive patterns. No two have the same personality traits either. They tend to be very unique and this tends to be why humans are drawn to them.
The domestic-wild hybrid cat crosses are referenced by how many generations they are removed from the wild cat. For instance, if one domestic cat and one wild cat parent your cat, it is referred to as an F1. If the wild parent is a fourth generation removed from the pure wild cat it is considered a F4. No matter how many generations are spanned, the wild nature is still a dominant part of the cat.
Types of Domestic Wild Hybrid Cats
There are several breeds, but let’s just look at two of the most popular in the United States.
Bengal Cat: Is a cross between a domestic cat and the Asian Leopard. If your Bengal cat is an F4 it means that your Bengal is removed from the Asian Leopard by at least 4 generations and is considered more domestic than wild. The breed can be traced back to at least 1934 in Belgium.
Savannah Cat: The savannah cat is a cross between a domestic cat and the Serval. The savannah cat can be designated through F5 at which it is about 25-35% Serval. At F1 you have a cat that is 75% wild Serval. Unfortunately, the FDA says that all hybrids are domestic cats, and this makes them available to be pets even when an F1 Savannah is, in essence, a wild animal. Other municipalities are smarter than the FDA in this regard. New York City bans all hybrids.
The savanna is aggressive against other cats and often all other pets. He is a hunter, stalker, and very scared of unfamiliar sights and sounds.
The Risks of Owning a Hybrid Cat
There are big risks involved owning a domestic-wild cat hybrid, the least of which are posed to and by the cat itself. Wild cat sanctuaries get too many calls about hybrid cats to handle. They can’t take them all in. It’s a big struggle, and it’s particularly sad for the cats. People assume these hybrid cats are exotic looking and want them. Breeders oblige knowing they can charge high prices for them. Hybrids are often surrendered to sanctuaries because they pee everywhere and are too aggressive. Here are some other common issues associated with owning a domestic wild hybrid:
- They need a special diet and often require medical services. Hybrids commonly suffer from irritable bowel syndrome and projectile vomiting.
- Hybrids are aggressive. They bite and scratch, which leave scars. They don’t mean to hurt you while playing; that’s just the way they are. Hybrids are part wild, and therefore bigger than traditional domestic cats. They have a big drive to hunt.
- They mark their territory in a wide square mile area. They tend to pee everywhere. It’s wired into their DNA from their wild cat parents. There isn’t much you can do to stop it.
- Wild cats and domestic cats don’t normally howl during the night, but hybrids often do this.
- There are no approved rabies vaccinations for hybrid cats.
- Hybrids are incredible hunters, and as such, are a danger to wildlife. People sometimes set them free because they don’t want them killed by surrendering them to animal control.
The best option here is to avoid buying a hybrid cat. That’s the bottom line. Breeders are getting them or breeding them for the money and only the money. These poor cats never did anything to deserve a life of despair. It is irresponsible to breed or buy these cats.
Kristen Hammett, D.V.M., advises: “I do not advise domestic-wild cat hybrids. They, in general, have more feral tendencies, and are more anxious as indoor cats. This, in turn, increases the risk of cat bites and decreases the strength of the human-animal bond. This is a generality and will not hold true with all such cats. However, there are so many cats that are socialized and domestic and need loving homes, I find it hard to advocate for taking on the risks inherent with the hybrid cats.”
Kristen Hammett, D.V.M., is President-Elect, North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association (NCVMA). She is also a veterinarian at Waynesville Animal Hospital in Waynesville, North Carolina.