Allowing the private possession of exotic cat hybrids is like strapping a nuclear warhead to the feral cat problem.
I’ve had more than 30 years experience with wild cats and am the founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue, the world’s largest accredited sanctuary that is dedicated entirely to exotic cats. We rescue and provide a permanent home to non-domestic cats, and almost never even consider rescuing hybrid cats because that problem is too vast.
We are seeing an alarming escalation in the number of hybrid cats who are being abandoned by their owners. While we track the number of wildcat species who are abandoned each year, we have never accurately tracked the number of hybrids in peril because those numbers have been too huge. This is a serious and growing problem in America for a number of reasons.
1. Current laws, where they exist, are impossible to enforce because they often include language that states what percentage of wild blood is allowed, or what generation of breeding from the wild is allowed, or some other vagary that depends on the honesty of the person selling a cat that is derived from great misery to the animals. It is actually much easier to breed Servals, Leopard Cats, Jungle Cats and other truly wild species of cat than hybrids, so these animals have been sold and misrepresented as hybrids to evade prohibitions on wildcat ownership. Over the years I have been asked by law enforcement on several occasions to identify cats that were thusly mislabeled. The only way to enforce a ban on exotic cats and hybrids is to include language that includes all lookalike crosses. By the 4th generation away from a wild parent, the vast majority of cats lose that wild “look.” If it looks wild, it probably is.
2. Despite the fact that we do not have space for all of the hybrid cat requests that we get for placement, we have had to rescue a number of them because we are registered with the state as wildlife rehabbers, in addition to being licensed as a sanctuary. If someone thinks they have a Florida Panther trapped in their garage, I am the one who gets the call to go do something about it.
When someone reports that a bobcat has killed their domestic cat, dog or livestock, I am the one who goes to check it out.
When someone traps a “panther” because it’s been lurking around their house and stalking their children, I get the call. One such call was that of a “Florida Panther” stalking a little old lady. This call and most of these calls turn out to be hybrid cats.
Animal Control and local Humane Societies know that hybrid cats almost never work out as pets. The liability is just too great so in most cases they are euthanized with no attempt to adopt them out. When I end up in the field, rescuing some terrorized family from a hybrid cat, I know that I either have to build it a cage or it will be killed. Because of that, I’ve had a number of hybrid cats and can attest to the fact that they:
A. Hybrids suffer from genetic defects that usually require surgery and special diets because they cannot properly digest their food. The most common ailment that I have seen is inflammatory bowel disease and projectile diarrhea.
B. Hybrids bite. Even in play, even if they love you, they bite and I have scars all over my hands from them. Hybrids are far too rough to live with domestic cats and dogs and are certainly not safe to have around children or the elderly.
C. Hybrids spray. Their wildcat parents would have been hard wired to mark many square miles of territory, and this is actually the number one reason I hear from people trying to get rid of their hybrids. Male or female, neutered or not, hybrids spray copious amounts of acidic, foul smelling urine all over everything, and everyone, that they want to mark as theirs.
D. Hybrids are notorious for loud howling throughout the night. Neither their wild parent, nor their domestic parent is known for this, but it seems to be ubiquitous among hybrids. This sound is chilling and very loud and I’ve never found anything that will curb it or even limit it to normal human waking hours. It seems to accompany carrying toys around in their mouths and is yet one more sad reminder of how confused these cats are.
E. There are no rabies vaccines that are approved for use in wild cats, nor their hybrid offspring. Exotic cats will often die from being vaccinated with traditional modified live virus vaccines like those used on domestic cats. We use a killed virus vaccine on our wildcat species and on our hybrids, but there is no way to know if it is effective on either.
3. The menace to native wildlife, as stated at the beginning, is probably the most pressing reason to ban the private possession of hybrid cats. If a person asks what will happen to their hybrid cat if they turn them in to Animal Control or a local Humane Society, they will learn that there is no hope of the animal being adopted. This results in people abandoning their hybrid cats to the wild.
Hybrid cats are much better hunters, due to their recently wild genes, and thus can do much more damage to the eco system than feral cats alone. Add to that the likelihood of breeding with the feral cat population and you end up with much larger cats, capable of killing bigger and a wider array of native wildlife, including amphibious species because wild cats will readily go in the water after prey.
Introducing wild cat traits into the feral cat population also imbues them with the wild cats’ enhanced ability to evade humans, avoid traps, cross rivers and travel much farther distances, which can spread the devastation into pristine areas that do not currently have feral cat populations. Because hybrid cats are susceptible to all of the same domestic cat diseases (and now we are learning that they are contracting domestic dog diseases, including canine distemper and parvo and parasites and diseases that were previously carried primarily by raccoons) hybrid cats can spread these diseases into the wild populations as well.
These hybrid cats not only compete with other natural predators but may even cross breed with bobcats and eventually cougars over time, thus causing even more damage to existing native species.
There are so many reasons why private ownership of exotic cats and their hybrids should be banned, and yet only one reason to allow it; ie: ill gotten gain.
What about hybrid cats?
Allowing the private possession of wild cat/ domestic cat hybrids is like strapping a nuclear war head to the feral cat problem.
I get e-mails every day, asking what I think of hybrids as pets. The hybrids in questions are usually Bengal Cats (leopard cat and domestic cross), Chausie or Stone Cougars (jungle cat and domestic cat cross) and Savannah (Serval and domestic cat cross) and Safari Cats (Geoffroy Cat and domestic cat cross). In the case of Stone Cougars the polydactyl feet and dwarf body style which are typical of severe inbreeding are encouraged to make the cat look less cat-like. Some people ask about Pixie Bobs, but I don’t know of any compelling evidence that suggests they really have any bobcat blood. Sometimes, when people are talking about hybrids, they are talking about lion/tiger crosses or serval/caracal crosses and much of what is true about the domestic crosses is more so of the wildcat hybrids.
In a nutshell, it is an irresponsible thing to do and there is no redeeming reason to cross breed these cats nor to support those who do by buying one. It almost never works out for the individual cat and in the rare case that it does, the number of animals that had to suffer in order for this one rare cat to exist is staggering.
While the rest of this article refers to Bengal Cats, the same is true of all of the hybrid cats. Some people have beautiful, fifth generation Bengal Cats that are reported to eat cat food, live quietly with domestic and use the litterbox fastidiously. This may well be the case, but the breeders tend to keep breeding back to the wild Leopard Cats in order to get the exotic markings. The idea was to glean the best of both worlds: a fabulously spotted or striped cat with all the gentleness of thousands of years of domestic history. Unfortunately, what more often happens is that you get the ordinary cat coat and a wild personality.
Even after 4 or 5 generations, that wild personality is a dominant trait and while it is marketed as being just like having a tiny tiger in your home, most people don’t know what that really means. As someone who is not trying to sell you a $2000.00 kitten that you will one day take to the dog pound out of frustration, let me tell you what it is like to live with a hybrid.
We have had a bunch of them that were former pets. We have had to turn away many, many more because most of them cannot run free outside and have to have the same cages as bobcats and cougars. They all spray. Male or female, neutered or not, first generation or fifth generation; I have never met one that didn’t spray urine all over everything in their path.
They bite. Even in play, even if they love you, they bite and I have scars all over my hands to prove that their love nips will leave you bleeding. They want to eat your other pets and they don’t care if it’s a German shepherd, they are going to be constantly looking for a way to take the dog down. That is why many of them can’t run free on Easy Street. They pick fights with 500 pound tigers. I have even received reports from Florida’s Game and Fish Commission of them stalking little old ladies and I have been called in to trap and remove them. This discarded pet now lives on Easy Street, but most are not this lucky.
The creation of a non protected species, by hybridizing the endangered leopard cats with the non endangered domestic cats has also created a huge market for the fur of these hybrids. Check out any of the big fur dealers, like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus and they will try to sell you the idea that their furs are from killing Lippi Cats (sometimes called Lipi Cats) in China. Of course that is absurd. There is no such thing as a Lippi Cat. The fur patterns on these coats can only be from truly endangered cats or from the Bengal Cat hybrids. In either case it is sad (and sick) but hybridizing cats has made this a lucrative market. So much, in fact, that the Bengal Cat is commonly called, the Money Cat.
I get hate mail from hybrid breeders every time I say anything about the fact that many times domestic cats are killed by the wild cats in the mating process, or that the conditions the breeding cats are often kept in is deplorable, or the physical ailments that many of these neurotic offspring suffer from, or the fact that millions of animals are being killed in shelters every year while people are still supporting the breeders. So many breeders claim that they only breed 4th and 5th generations, but don’t seem to get the fact that you can’t get a 4th generation without a lot of suffering in the first three. By the time a person breeds enough cats to get to the fourth generation they have created approximately 50 cats who will end up being slaughtered for coats or killed because of their behavior problems. I stand amazed at the number of people who just don’t get this and how they manage to pretend that they are not the cause of the suffering if they purchase a fourth generation cat. The cats can’t speak for themselves though, so the daily hate mail is just the price of speaking the truth for them. Please consider all of the suffering that you can eliminate by not succumbing to the urge to own something wild. Your sacrifice can make the world a better place.
For the cats, Carole Baskin, Founder
Please Don’t Ask Us To Take Your Bengal Cat or Savannah
We get hundreds of letters each year from people who bought a cute little Bengal Cat kitten and who can’t wait to get rid of them when they reach adulthood. We do not take in Bengal Cats and don’t know anyone reliable who does. The Bengal Cat Rescue Network is the only place we have found online who offers to take in unwanted Bengal Cats and we cannot speak for their integrity or policies, but have listed a link to them here to help you try to find a home for the cat you have discovered is now spraying everything in sight and who is attacking your pets, children and spouse. The Bengal Cat Rescue Network.
- Before You Buy a Hybrid or Purebred Pet
- Read some real letters that we receive from people who own a Bengal Cats and know what it is really like.
- Bengal Cat May Be Killed for Biting Neighbors
- My Cat Has Projectile Diarreah
- My Savannah Cat Eats the Furniture
- Bengal Breeders Often Don’t Tell Buyers The Truth
- Urinating outside litter box
- Bengal Cat Biting Child
- Bengal Cat Doesn’t Get Along
- Tritrichomonas Foetus May Cause Bloody Diarrhea
- Bloody diarrhea of Bengal Cats
- It isn’t the cat’s fault
- Breeder Hides Irritable Bowel Disease
- Midnight Rescue
- Nervous and Temperamental
- Super Feral
- But What About An F4 Bengal Cat?
Before You Buy a Hybrid or Purebred Pet
As I read this, I thought that so much of this sentiment applies to what we witness in our rescuing of wildcats. “DON’T BREED OR BUY WHILE SANCTUARIES FILL UP” – just changing a few words…it’s what we try to educate, too. (Having put in time volunteering at a shelter’s euthanasia department, crying my way home every day, believe me, this all rings very true and deserves sharing far and wide). These are some of the very same issues our staff deal with every day, too.
“I think our society needs a huge “Wake-up” call.
As a shelter manager, I am going to share a little insight with you all…a view from the inside if you will.
First off, all of you breeders/sellers should be made to work in the “back” of an animal shelter for just one day.
Maybe if you saw the life drain from a few sad, lost, confused eyes, you would change your mind about breeding and selling to people you don’t even know. That puppy or kitten you just sold will most likely end up in my shelter when it’s not cute anymore.
So, how would you feel if you knew that there’s about a 90% chance that pet will never walk out of the shelter it is going to be dumped at? Purebred or not! About 50% of all of the pets that are “owner surrenders” or “strays,” that come into my shelter are purebred.
The most common excuses I hear are;
“We are moving and we can’t take our dog (or cat).” Really? Where are you moving to that doesn’t allow pets?
Or they say “The dog got bigger than we thought it would.” How big did you think a German Shepherd would get?
“We don’t have time for her.” Really? I work a 10-12 hour day and still have time for my 6 dogs!
“She’s tearing up our yard.” How about making her a part of your family?
They always tell me: “We just don’t want to have to stress about finding a place for her. We know she’ll get adopted, she’s a good pet.” Odds are your pet won’t get adopted & how stressful do you think being in a shelter is?
Well, let me tell you, your pet has 72 hours to find a new family from the moment you drop it off. Sometimes a little longer if the shelter isn’t full and your dog manages to stay completely healthy. If it sniffles, it dies.
Your pet will be confined to a small run/kennel in a room with about 25 other barking or crying animals. It will have to relieve itself where it eats and sleeps. It will be depressed and it will cry constantly for the family that abandoned it.
If your pet is lucky, I will have enough volunteers in that day to take him/her for a walk or give them a loving pat. If not, your pet won’t get any attention besides having a bowl of food slid under the kennel door and the waste sprayed out of its pen with a high-powered hose.
If your pet is an adult, black, part exotic, or any of the “Bully” breeds (pit bull, rottie, mastiff, etc) it was pretty much dead when you walked it through the front door. Those pets just don’t get adopted.
It doesn’t matter how ‘sweet’ or ‘well behaved’ they are. If your pet doesn’t get adopted within its 72 hours and the shelter is full, it will be destroyed.
If the shelter isn’t full and your pet is good enough, and of a desirable enough breed it may get a stay of execution, but not for long.
Most dogs get very kennel protective after about a week and are destroyed for showing aggression. Even the sweetest dogs will turn in this environment.
If your pet makes it over all of those hurdles, chances are it will get kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection and will be destroyed because shelters just don’t have the funds to pay for even a $100 treatment.
Here’s a little euthanasia 101 for those of you that have never witnessed a perfectly healthy, scared animal being “put-down:”
First, your pet will be taken from its kennel on a leash. They always look like they think they are going for a walk – happy, wagging their tails. Until they get to “The Room,” every one of them freaks out and puts on the brakes when we get to the door. It must smell like death or they can feel the sad souls that are left in there, it’s strange, but it happens with every one of them.
Your dog or cat will be restrained, held down by 1 or 2 vet techs depending on the size and how freaked out they are. Then a euthanasia tech or a vet will start the process. They will find a vein in the front leg and inject a lethal dose of the “pink stuff.” Hopefully, your pet doesn’t panic from being restrained and jerk. I’ve seen the needles tear out of a leg and been covered with the resulting blood and been deafened by the yelps and screams.
They all don’t just “go to sleep,” sometimes they spasm for a while, gasp for air and defecate on themselves. When it all ends, your pets corpse will be stacked like firewood in a large freezer in the back with all of the other animals that were killed waiting to be picked up like garbage.
What happens next? Cremated? Taken to the dump? Rendered into pet food? You’ll never know and it probably won’t even cross your mind. It was just an animal and you can always buy another one, right? I hope that those of you that have read this are bawling your eyes out and can’t get the pictures out of your head I deal with everyday on the way home from work.
I hate my job, I hate that it exists & I hate that it will always be there unless you people make some changes and realize that the lives you are affecting go much further than the pets you dump at a shelter.
Between 9 and 11 MILLION animals die every year in shelters and only you can stop it. I do my best to save every life I can but rescues are always full, and there are more animals coming in everyday than there are homes.
My point to all of this DON’T BREED OR BUY WHILE SHELTER PETS DIE!
Hate me if you want to. The truth hurts and reality is what it is. I just hope I maybe changed one person’s mind about breeding their pet, taking their loving pet to a shelter, or buying a pet. I hope that someone will walk into my shelter and say “I saw this and it made me want to adopt.”
THAT WOULD MAKE IT WORTH IT!!!!”
Meet the hybrids of Big Cat Rescue:
Meet our hybrid friends:
Savannah cat breed banned in Australia
August 03, 2008
An exotic breed of cat has been banned, with environment minister Peter Garrett calling it an extreme risk to native wildlife. So-called “Savannah” cats are a cross between domestic cats and an African wildcat known as the serval.
They tend to be spotted with slightly larger ears than other cats and have become popular with some cat-lovers.
But environmentalists fear they retain the strong hunting instincts of their African ancestors and could interbreed with millions of feral cats already in Australia, which have wrought havoc on the country’s indigenous wildlife.
“The risks associated with allowing this cross-bred cat into the country, when we already have up to 12 million feral cats wreaking havoc on native fauna, are simply too great,” Mr Garrett said.
“That is why I have banned the import of these cats immediately.”
He said the Savannah cat posed “an extreme threat to Australia’s native wildlife”.
Read some real letters that we receive from people who own a Bengal Cats and know what it is really like.
Bengal Cat May Be Killed for Biting Neighbors
Just a pet to owner, a threat to others: Officials think a cat that attacked two people is part wild and want to test it for rabies.
Problem is, they’d have to put it to sleep first.
By SHADI RAHIMI
Published June 1, 2006
ST. PETERSBURG — Melissa Russell was taking her usual Saturday morning walk when a striped cat named Czar yowled and lunged at her. Then he then bit her in the calf.“I was shocked,” said Russell, 78, of Snell Isle.
An hour later, 6-year-old Cole Fisher stopped to pet Czar. The cat bit him in the thigh, said his mother, Lana. Now the county wants to seize Czar to test it for rabies. Officials think Czar is part wild, an exotic Bengal. No rabies vaccines are approved for hybrids or wild animals, so a rabies test requires killing the cat first.
But Czar’s owner, Jo Ellen Janas, 53, won’t give him up. She insists Czar is a domestic cat, not a Bengal.
This week, the county filed a petition for an injunction to force Janas to hand over Czar. “It’s a tough deal,” said Dr. Welch Agnew, the county’s assistant director for animal services. “We never want to take somebody’s pet, but we’ve got victims out there.”
Both families said Janas was apologetic after learning of the attacks, which occurred May 20. Janas assured them Czar had been vaccinated for rabies and mailed copies of his veterinary record. That’s where Russell saw that Czar was classified as a Bengal, an exotic hybrid created by breeding a domestic cat with an Asian leopard.
She alerted animal services.
On May 24 , a county animal services officer went to Janas’ home on Brightwaters Boulevard to take Czar and get him tested for rabies. The test requires putting the cat to sleep and removing his brain to check the stem for antibodies.
If Czar does not have rabies, Russell and Fisher can discontinue their rounds of rabies shots, Agnew said. The total series is one dose of immune globulin and five doses of rabies vaccine over 28 days. But Janas won’t turn over her beloved pet. Her attorney, Russell Cheatham, said Thursday that the cat was misidentified as a Bengal on its medical records. It is a domestic cat, he said. “If there was a less drastic means than killing her pet, it would be a different situation,” he said. “But it’s a problem because it may not be necessary.” Cheatham said his client is searching for a lab that will run a DNA test on Czar to prove he is not part wild. Janas is
keeping the animal confined to her home, he said.
Meanwhile, Russell received her second round of rabies shots Thursday, and Fisher received his first round. “I’ve been extremely worried,” Lana Fisher said. “It’s just devastating that we have to put him through this.” Both families said that though the incident has been difficult, they don’t want to pursue legal action against their neighbor. “We are Christians,” Russell said. “I have no bitterness.”
The county is not so forgiving.
“We have a suspected rabid animal that is allegedly running loose and attacking people,” said Michelle Wallace, an assistant county attorney. “It could be out running loose again, and who knows? We could have a rabies outbreak.” A court hearing is scheduled June 7. More than half the 2,700 reports of bites or scratches in the county every year involve dogs. Usually, domestic dogs, cats and ferrets suspected of rabies are issued a 10-day home quarantine, Agnew said. If they have rabies, they typically die within that period.
“But that’s not true for wild animals,” he said. “The only test that’s 100 percent accurate is a postmortem test.” Raccoons are the primary source of rabies in Florida. A rabies outbreak spread by raccoons a decade ago prompted animal services to begin taking preventive action. In March, it dropped fish-meal-coated rabies vaccine from helicopters.
My Cat Has Projectile Diarreah
I could not agree more with your philosophy re hybrid Bengals. I had a Siamese and a Tonkinese together. Both reached the age of 20+. The Tonk was fantastic, the Siamese so stupid she could not have had more than 3 brain cells … but sweet and devoted. After they passed, I swore no more pets. Then, I saw a neighbor’s Bengal and immediately fell in love with it. I still resisted. That lasted 2 weeks. I ended up purchasing 2 F4 standards, beautifully marked and full of glitter. They were gorgeous and from a famous line. One was so sweet, wouldn’t stay away from me at the kittery, I had to buy her. The 2nd was purchased to keep the 1st one company. Big mistake, the 2nd one was wild as could be and was returned within 3 days. I subsequently found out my returned one went to a breeder who ultimately returned her because she was uncontrollable … truly WILD!
Lets just say that my Bengal has been a monumental pain regardless of how cute and precocious she may be. She wakes up at 2:30 a.m. so I haven’t had a decent night’s rest in a year. If I don’t play with her she starts her ungodly whining, yodel, squeaking, whatever cat calls that could wake the dead. Without question, this is the smartest creature I’ve ever encountered. The easy problems were breaking her of the habit of jumping into the shower with me every morning, trying to swim in the commode, etc. … she’s obsessed by water; and, pulling door stops out of the wall to use them as fishing rods(?) in her water bowl. I kid you not, have photos. Around 5 a.m., if I don’t play with her, she bites my ankles until I do. Love bites but still annoying. That’s the funny side. She’s got me trained well!
The sad side is she has Irritable Bowel Disorder (IBD) which the “breeder” said she didn’t, then said she cured (I returned her after 2 weeks) and then took her back, then put me onto a raw chicken diet which I ultimately decided was too dangerous. Plus, it didn’t work. After much $$$$$ was spent at Vets, she was finally placed on 5 mg prednisolone qd and a high fiber diet. The diet gives her gas which is so foul I nearly gag. Fortunately, her stools firmed up. Don’t ask about her litter box … at least it’s always within 2″ of it if she misses. But, I’m much concerned because there is strong evidence of intestinal bleeding. After passing her stool, there is a fair quantity of mucous which is obviously blood tinged. I will not submit her to experimental surgery. I also have huge issues with putting an animal down unless its in pain. I suspected the breeder would have and my taking her back was probably because I couldn’t see her put down. So, I have her, I love her, I could kill her at times if you know what I mean. But, you are so right, this should not be a breed.
I say the above so you’ll know I have some limited experience with this breed.
You raise a valid issue. Had I known what I know now I would never had done anything to promote the continuation of this breed. Having done some literature searches, IBD seems common with Bengals; and, its not really curable. I can’t even handle the issue of coats its so barbaric.
However, I see another problem that arises from the breeders. Done so purely to increase their incomes. The breeders deny IBD is a problem, they swear their lines are free of it, its just finding the “right” diet. For me that’s pure PR. They also use the words active, intelligent, etc., to cover up that they are often wild and can “flip” on the owner in a second. Mine is sweet, definitely F4, great, really great line but if I pick her up the wrong way or startle her … my blood flows and they’re not minor scratches!!!
I wish there was some better way to alert potential owners prior to their purchase. I hate the thought of such gorgeous creatures burdened by IBD their entire lives. As well, emotionally, they don’t know who they are from one minute to the next … domestic or wild.
My Savannah Cat Eats the Furniture
Hi! I’m a volunteer with pet rescue here in Orlando. Recently I was contacted by a woman who asked me to help her find a home for her two year old F1 male savannah. She says that kitty is very affectionate and loving and great with her clients, but he’s nearly destroyed her home/ office. He eats the furniture, tears large chunks out of the towels and sheets, and chews through anything made of plastic, rubber, or vinyl (he also knows how to open doors-not a good thing). She’s covered everything in cayenne pepper powder but that still doesn’t help. I’m sure you’re familiar with this problem (which is one of the reasons you don’t advocate the breeding of hybrids) and I wondered if you have any suggestions. I’m sure that if I offered this cat up for adoption many would step forward to give him a new home, but finding a qualified home could be a real challenge. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Bengal Breeders Often Don’t Tell Buyers The Truth
Reading about hybrid cats on your website inspired me to e-mail my experiences. I purchased a snow Bengal kitten nine months ago. My main concern is that the breeder/seller does not inform the buyer of what they’re getting into when owning a hybrid cat. They’re part wild, and will need extra supervision. They will be destructive in your home. I had to get rid of fragile items, plants, certain decorations on the walls. Before I buy anything for my home, I have to consider what my hybrid will do to it. Basically, I don’t buy anything for my home anymore. It is really important that people understand how destructive they can be before they buy one. I personally feel not understanding their capabilities is what leads to giving the pet up to shelter, or resale of the cat. It saddens me to hear that people give these cats up because they bond with the person that purchases them. More so than regular cats. I’m always pulling my hybrid off my other two cats. She can be a bit of a bully. I had long deep scratches covering my legs the first 6 months. Biting and scratching is hard to break, but can be done. She no longer scratches, but she loves to bite.
The most common in Bengalis (it is more common to have it than not) is irritable bowel disease, which means a life of projectile diarrhea. Our cat was having non-stop diarrhea, sometimes with mucus in it. The smell was terrible. It would reek through out the entire house daily. I guess this is the main reason I’m e-mailing. I hope this information will help others. The reason these cats have diarrhea is that their metabolisms is high, so they need different food than a normal house cat. I started feeding ours one boiled boneless skinless chicken thigh every morning, and one can of high quality cat food “Pet Promise” that I would dish out through out the afternoon and evening. It’s important to feed them the canned cat food also. They need the vitamins that the chicken will not offer. Due to their faster metabolisms, they eat more than a normal house cat. Ours eats twice the amount of regular house cats. Tina
Urinating outside litter box
I have a 3 1/2 year old male Bengal who started urinating outside of the liter box in the house when he was just past 2 years old. We started him on daily doses of prozac for this behavor problem. Over the course of a year we increased the dosage 2 times and he was almost at the maximum dose and we got an email from the breeder who suggested we try the Depo-Provera injections. We got King to the vet for the first injection and started slowly decreasing the other medication until it was gone. We were not supposed to take King back for another injection until 1 month later but before that time was up he was back to unrinating in the house. We took King back to the vet for the second shot and it seems like the urinating is worse. We are faced with the choice of finding him a new home with someone who can deal with this behavor or putting him to sleep. I am so disappointed that the breeders of these cats don’t tell people that this is very common. Please email me with any suggestions or thoughs…Thanks, Wanda
Bengal Cat Biting Child
Just wondering if you know of a rescue organization for Bengal Cats. I know yours is for big cats, but just thought I would try. Friends of mine have e Bengal Cat that is about 3 or 4 years old, their daughter is mentally handicapped. I think she bothers the cat and the cat has been biting her. They are beside themselves and don’t know what to do. We have looked everywhere for a home, but so far to no avail. Just thought I would check to see if you have any ideas. They live in the Orlando area. Thanks, Sally
Bengal Cat Doesn’t Get Along
Do you know anywhere I can take my Bengal cat to find a good home? I need to find her one, she is the cutest thing but doesn’t get long with my other cat- I figure she’ll be easier to find a home for since she is exotic. Sandy
Tritrichomonas Foetus May Cause Bloody Diarrhea
I got Tess (a Bengal Cat) last November and since then she has had 5 bouts of bloody diarrhea. I knew when I got her that the breed has “digestive problems” and didn’t mind taking care of her at all in spite of this. My breeder suggested Panacur and it seemed to help during the first 4 bouts but this 5th time it didn’t help much. I had heard about Tritrichomonas Foetus and did some research on the internet and found two persons who found out their cat(s) had this TF … obviously this is just recently recognized in cats and detection of the micro-organism is very difficult and a culture needs to be done. I contacted one of Tess’s vets with the information and she ran a test and called me 10 days later and said, “Yes, Tess is positive!” There is a treatment which has only been available since January of this year and she is now on this. I had to order it special from a company on the internet. She has to take 2 capsules every day for 14 days! Needless to say, I am really happy that I found this out and am glad that I didn’t settle for the diagnosis and wasn’t willing to just “watch her” Janice in PA
Bloody diarrhea of Bengal Cats
Carole’s note: I posted this because it may help some cats, but I have had many reports that it did not help.
“I recently was made the most beautiful gift of a female bengal kitten, she is extremely sweet and playful – and yes a little wild.
When I discovered that she had diarrhea which was on occasion blood tinged, it reminded me of my patients wheat or gluten allergies (I am an Acupuncturist).
Gluten is a protein found in cereal that is highly allergenic. It can cause irritation of the intestine in varying degrees and can lead over time to malabsorption problems, and because it is a protein, Kidney problems. It is most of the time misdiagnosed by MDs, and the patients go trough a lot of suffering until they learn how to adjust their diets.
I then decided to feed my cat gluten free cat food. This was a major project, I studied the ingredient labels of most cat foods and discovered that in most cat food there is gluten: wheat gluten, corn gluten, barley gluten etc.
Finally I found a brand “Wellness” that is grain free, and I started feeding this product along with the dryfood of this brand. The diarrhea stopped. My cat dosn’t like it quite as well as the junk cat food, but she is only just like us: we like potato chips, which are not good for us. Please post this on your website. Maybe that helps.
Greetings, Beatrice Moncrief”
It isn’t the cat’s fault
Hi, After checking out your website regarding Asian leopard/Bengal cat hybrids (which was very enlightening and informative), my mom had a long phone conversation with Honey at Big Cat Rescue today. She was very helpful. Thanks! She encouraged us to email your organization explaining our current situation.
I purchased a 4 month old F1 ALC/SBT hybrid from a breeder in April of this year. I am a vet tech and met the breeder through my work. I thought that her kittens were beautiful and she informed me that she had 1 kitten left from a littler and that he was the most beautiful kitten that she’s ever had. The breeder also said that he was very sweet and loving. I met the kitten and thought that he was the most amazing looking kitten and took him home on the spot. The first week away from his mother was HELL (lots of yelling and screaming) but we got through it. I neutered him and had a 4 paw de-claw done right away. I did not want him spraying in my apartment.
He was fine for the first few months. He and my 2 year old Siamese got along fairly well. The Bengal mostly annoyed the other cat with his kitten behavior. His only problem was that he would steal my socks and chew them up.
As time went on he started doing more annoying things, stealing silverware from the sink, taking my pens and pencils and chewing plants. He then started knocking things off of shelves on purpose. I’m not sure if he likes to watch them fall or if he likes the sound that they make when they crash. He also started chewing and shredding the rest of my clothing and towels. I have had to hide everything in closets.
In mid August we moved to a new apartment and got a puppy. He HATES the dog. She doesn’t bother him at all, but he goes out of his way to growl, hiss and spit at her. He even tries to hunt and attack her while she is sleeping in her crate.
He also started attacking my other cat after we moved into our new place. He starts out playing nicely with the Siamese and then goes way too far. My other cat lets him know that he’s done playing, but he won’t stop. I have to split up cat fights at least 3 times during the night. I have been loosing a lot of sleep over this. My other cat is now afraid of the Bengal and begs to be locked in a closet where the Bengal can not get at him.
In the past couple weeks the Bengal has become very food aggressive. The cats share the same kind of food but have separate dishes. The Bengal will not let the Siamese come within a 2 foot radius of the dishes if there is food in them. I now have to feed them separately.
I have lived in my new place for 2 months now and have not unpacked a single box because I am afraid that the cat will ruin the rest of my things. I have tried to hide my clothes in closets, but every time I come home from work I find out that he has learned how to open the closets and has chewed up more clothing. I now have to barricade the closets with heavy objects.
About 2 weeks after I moved into my new place I noticed a funny smell in the corner of my living room. It turned out that my Bengal had been using one of my boxes full of my stuff as his new littler box. There is nothing wrong with his litter box and there is no medical reason for him to not be using his box, but he won’t use it anyway. He has been peeing in about 5 different spots throughout my place and has decided to poop 1 foot from the entrance to his box, not in the box. I’ve tried to use behavioral modification meds on him but they were not successful. I can’t catch him to rub it on his ears, he won’t eat the flavored treat meds and I can’t hide it in raw meat.
I have talked to the breeder about his litter box issues, attacking the other cat and the destroying of my things and clothing. She told me that they aren’t ‘knick-knack’ cats. She didn’t tell me that on day 1 when I got him. She then told me that I have a few options. I can try meds (I did.), I could ‘re-train’ him or I could find him a new home.
I don’t know of anyone that would want a destructive cat that can not be handled and I do not think that ‘re-training’ him will help him stop destroying my things or attacking my dog.
I am at the end of my rope and feel that my last option is euthanasia. I realize that he is not a domesticated cat and cannot live as a pet in someone’s home. It is hard for me to have this as my last option. I had made tentative plans to put him down this weekend until I found out about your web site. It’s not his fault that he is this way. Do you know any other options for him?
Thank you for your time and consideration. Name witheld by request
Carole’s Note: The owner found a Bengal Cat Rescue group willing to try and place the cat so he will not be euthanized. If you do the math above you will see that he had become this problematic by the time he was only 10 months old. Usually it is a year and half before they become intolerable in the house. 99.9% of the mail we get indicates this is typical of the hybrids regardless of what the mix is. We get hate mail from the breeders, who don’t want this information available to you, and occasionally a letter from a pet owner who has a cat that is four or more generations removed from the wild who just isn’t bright enough to figure out that the only way to get a watered down Bengal is by creating many unfortunate cats like this one along the way. We love cats and don’t want any of them to suffer just so a few people can make a buck or stroke their own ego.
Breeder Hides Irritable Bowel Disease
I thought that my story might give others reason to pause and reconsider the purchase of a hybrid cat breed. While we were very fortunate in personality and behavior, we have a cat with very questionable health that, I believe, was unloaded on us with full knowledge and complete non-disclosure of his health problems.
We adopted a four year old retired breeding stud bengal three years ago. He’s at least an F5. He’s exceedingly well mannered – uses the scratching post and the litter box, is good with other pets and children, sleeps on the bed with me, no biting, attacking, or scratching people. As a retired stud, I was very concerned about spraying, but we’ve never had a single issue. He is not a healthy guy, though. After two close brushes with death in the first year we had him, we figured out that he has a food allergy. To chicken. Yes, chicken. Thousands of dollars were spent on hospitalization and testing and medicines and ultrasounds because we thought he had severe IBD and a potential blockage or significant internal defect. Considering that he was four years old when we bought him, you would think that the breeder might have mentioned this. After I let her know that he was sick, (but we did not want to return him) she stopped communicating with us. I had spoken (on the phone) with this lady repeatedly and at great length about this cat to make sure he was going to work in our household. I was assured that he was “naturally lean” but didn’t have any health problems. Apparently, “naturally lean” is code for an inability to gain weight because of all the diarrhea and vomiting. At least the specialty food, to which he is now restricted, has resolved the bulk of his health issues. This cat was a breeding stud for several years at that cattery, and one of his daughters is still a breeding queen there.
Buyer beware. Thank you, Heather
March 22, 2006 11:21 pm: I had just gotten in from a three hour meeting of the Animal Advisory Committee where we had wrestled with the long range goals of Animal Services and how we would be able to stop the flood of animals in the front doors to be euthanized because people didn’t want them any more. How could we fund education and aggressive spay / neuter programs in a county government fraught with cut backs? How could we stop the killing of 34,000 healthy dogs and cats each year in an environment of thought that could only do more of what wasn’t working by building more places for people to bring their pets to die? It was a topic worthy
of the energy we had all put into it tonight, but at the end of the night all we had managed to do was suggest that an outside consultant be paid to tell us how to do it and we would leave funding the implementation to another day’s discussion.
Being away from my computer for 3 hours means a pile of emails will have collected and standing at my desk I began to sort through them. I really wanted to go to bed, so not sitting down seemed to me, as if it say, I was not committed to answering all of this mail, but would see if there was anything that just couldn’t wait until morning. Then the phone rang.
The voice on the other end was shaky, female and began, “I got your number from the answering machine, and I’m sorry to call so late, but I have called everyone I can think of and Fish and Game said they would send someone yesterday, but they never did, and the trapper said he will just euthanize the cat, and the cat is scared, and I am afraid he is going to die, and if I let him loose someone is going to shoot him. It’s a big cat. I think it might be a Florida Panther. It weighs 90 pounds, is three feet long, had VERY big teeth and his paws are as big as my hands. I caught him in my garage. He has been tearing up cats in the neighborhood and some are missing. I think he ate them. I caught him in the trap with some cat food. He just fills up the entire trap…”
I don’t know how long she went through her description before I spoke. There was no hurry to speak as she was just flowing with information. I jotted down the details as I silently pondered her authenticity. I have been outspoken against people breeding and selling exotic cats and have committed much of my time to trying to stop the trade. I had become the target of a segment of our society that is comprised largely of drug dealers, criminals and those just too ignorant or uncaring to see that their participation in the industry causes such suffering for the animals. In their chat rooms they had suggested more than once that the only way to stop me was a bullet. Was this call in the middle of the night a set up for just such an opportunity?
Was this woman’s voice shaking because she was lying and involved in something that could send her to prison? The notion of a 90 lb. Florida Panther, in a dog trap, in a garage, in a waterfront community like Apollo Beach, was pretty far fetched. Is that why Fish and Game had not responded, or did she just say she called them first so that I wouldn’t? I queried her more, asking the same questions in different ways. If she was lying she would get tripped in her own tale and if she wasn’t she would surely think that I was an idiot who just couldn’t get the picture.
After a while I decided that no one could have made up a story like hers and told her I would be sending our Operations Manager Scott and our own licensed trapper to see if she changed her mind about wanting someone to come right away. Her only concern was if our trapper was of the same conviction as the one she had called earlier and I assured her that we would not kill the cat. She gave her contact info and it all matched up with the public records. She was in a high rent district that was not consistent with where most of our opponents live. I called Jamie to wake her up.
Groggy she answered the phone. She had been too exhausted to sleep, but had finally managed to drift off when she heard my voice saying, “Get up. We have to pick up a Florida Panther in Apollo Beach.” She said to wait out front and she would be ready in three minutes and she was.
As she climbed into the truck she asked me to repeat what it was we were doing again and why. If this was a 90 lb cat we would have to pick up the van from the sanctuary and have an enclosure ready upon our return. The woman was afraid for the cat because she couldn’t open the trap to give him water and he had been in it for a couple days. We needed a place we could release the cat so that he could stand up (which she also said he couldn’t do in the tiny trap he was wedged into) and get a drink.
As we switched out gear to the van Jamie called Scott to alert him that we needed a cage ready. He prepared our rehab cage because it is far removed from the tour route and the other cats in case this was truly a wild cat and as a quarantine measure.
On the one hour trip to Apollo Beach Jamie and I placed bets as to what was in the trap. Would it be a dog? A raccoon? A neighbor’s oversized tom cat? A bobcat? Partly this was due to the barrage of such sightings that turn out to be such animals and partly in our nervous aversion to what the real implications of this trip could mean to our lives. Jamie was armed with a Mag Light and has become something of an Amazon in strength due to her daily life of outside work at the rescue. I have a history of deflecting harm thanks to an overly protective Guardian Angel and hardly ever even consider my own safety but I worried for Jamie. She is the permit holder to pick up a native animal and had to be there. She knows the element of enemy we are up against. A master of disguise and undercover surveillance she has been face to face with those who use and abuse these animals. If anyone knew the dark void of greed, ego and selfishness that these exotic animal breeders and dealers shared it was Jamie. We were ready for whatever the night might bring.
I was somewhat relieved to find at the end of our route the homes were in the million dollar range. At least gun fire would probably cause an investigation. The caller met us at the door and holding back her dogs waived us to enter the garage. I quickly scanned the room to try and determine if there was anyone lurking and to get a feel for what kind of person we were dealing with. I wasn’t too thrilled with the notion of being thrust into the garage; was that so we wouldn’t make a bloody mess on the carpet?
Opening the garage door I saw the trap that was virtually busting at the seams with brown fur. Glancing around the garage I didn’t see anyone or anyplace anyone likely could be hiding. I know Jamie’s observation skills were far more adept and that she could also go on for hours describing exactly everything in the room to its most minute detail after a five minute visit. The woman rejoined us and shut the door behind her. She was no match for us and I began to un tense every muscle that had been as tight as piano wire for a battle.
She described the cat again; as if we couldn’t see him and detailed discovering the cat a week before and all that she had done to try and find help. Finding no one who cared, she borrowed a trap and set out to catch the cat herself for fear that someone would shoot him. Finally she turned to Jamie and asked, “So, what is it?”
Jamie responded that it was a Jungle Cat and I interjected that it was the biggest Jungle Cat I had ever seen. We gathered a written statement from the woman, interviewed her mother who owned the home, took photos and settled the 26 lb. Jungle Cat into the back of the van for the hour ride home.
2:13 am we arrived back at the sanctuary and the only way to get the cat to the rehab cage is to carry him across 2 acres of underbrush on a foot wide path lit by only a flashlight. I carried the flashlight and Jamie hauled the 36 pounds of cat and trap. Jamie turned him loose in his new enclosure and unlike most trapped cats he just moseyed out of the trap and strolled around the Cat-a-tat checking out the brush bama, the cave and the swinging platforms. She gave him water and secured the cage.
The next day we called Fish and Game, now known as the FWCC, to report the incident. We checked the lost and found while Dr. Wynn checked the cat over to try and tell, without sedating him, if he was a male, neutered or not and what was up with those huge paws? We had filmed an interview for a documentary into the small cat and hybrid cat business and the producer called saying she needed a few more break away shots. I told her about the rescue and offered to let her document what happens when these animals escape.
The minute she saw the cat she said it was a Stone Cougar and that there was a hybrid dealer a couple hours away who was trying to make himself famous by breeding a Chaussie (Jungle Cat / Domestic Cat cross) that looks like a cougar. Purposely inbreeding causes traits such as the polydactyl feet to make the paws bigger and the stunted, dwarf like legs to make the cats’ body style more closely resemble a cougar. The Jungle Cat is used for its brown coloring and hybrids are typically larger than either parent, so this would give the desired size for the pet owner who wants something big enough to beat up the neighbor’s Rottweiler.
This cat’s escape, or release, sums up the hybrid issue. The first generations are large, mentally confused, and often exhibit the worst of both species rather than the best. Hybrids are marketed as being miniature wildcats with all of their beauty and mystique while being easy to keep; eating cat food and using a litter box. What is most often created is a rather ordinary looking cat with no house manners who will fight you to the death for the defrosting meat in the sink. Children and pets are particularly in danger and there isn’t a house that can contain them, or in which anyone who can smell will want to live. They are often relegated to lonely lives in back yard cages or are turned loose to fend for themselves on whatever neighbor’s pets they can catch.
This cat probably sold for $2500.00 and was just a way to make some money to his breeder. This cat once was a new buyer’s prized possession. This cat knew what it meant to live in fear on the street with no one who cared if he lived or died, except for a woman who was determined that he would not be shot for mauling the neighbor’s cats. This cat may now spend 20 years in a cage because he is too big and too dangerous to be kept as a pet anymore.
On April 27 Sparticus, the Jungle Cat hybrid was re-united with his family. According to his owner, they had been vacationing and their home broken into. All of their pets had been set free and they had been unable to find Sparticus. Someone saw his story on our site and alerted the owner who was able to identify the cat by his microchip number.
This cat is the one with a story to tell and you can help him tell it: Exotic cats were not meant for life in cages. Please don’t support the exotic pet trade; including the hybrid pet trade.
Nervous and Temperamental
Hi, A few years ago I was living in Miami. It happened to be a cold October evening around 8 PM. In the parking lot I spotted a small orange kitten. Well, about 2 hours later I was able to catch him and bring him into my apartment. Since I had 2 other cats and a small dog. I put him in my spare bathroom with food, water, litter box and a box with lots of towels for a bed. The next day I asked around to see if any one knew where he came from. Of course you know the answer to that. I took him to my vet. My vet pronounced him to be in good health. So he had his shots, etc and came home. The vet did say he had pretty big ears and big feet. My boy grew and grew. As he grew he became more nervous and temperamental. Luckily he did get along with my other pets. After ripping my vet apart, we decided he would have to be sedated before any more visits. He developed irritable bowel syndrome and occasionally would spray. I was the only one that could handle him and at times I had problems with him. (biting and scratching). Mario grew to be 30# of solid muscle. I had him for 7 years before he developed osteosarcoma. Every vet, I had a few, said they thought he was a hybrid. I have told my story over and over. Wild or hybrid these cats do not make good pets. Mario was my boy. I stuck by him. Even held him during hurricane Andrew. He howled and shook for four hours. However if I had children, I never could have. kept him. Please pass my story along. Thanks. Jan Kelley
6 June 2007
Wild-domestic fashion pets sneaking past quarantine leaves native animals at risk Serval-cat “supercat” shouldn’t be let in without scrutiny A loophole in Australia’s biosecurity system means hybrid African Serval-domestic cat crosses can be imported into the country with no assessment of their potential to decimate native wildlife.
Chief Executive of the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre, Professor Tony Peacock, pointed out the loophole to the Quarantine and Biosecurity Review in Canberra today. “Hybrids of wild animals and domestic animals are a stupid American trend to breed more and more exotic pets” says Professor Peacock. “No one anticipated such animals when our quarantine laws were formulated, so we apply a definition that a fifth generation wild-domestic cross is legally a “domestic” animal and so escapes proper scrutiny”.
“Fourteen of these wild-cross cats are currently in quarantine on their way to Australia and have apparently passed all Federal requirements. We hope the Queensland Government will classify them Class 1 Pest Animals under State Legislation and ban them, but this sort of thing should be a Federal responsibility. An Adelaide breeder is advertising animals available in 2009”.
“This loophole will effectively lead to fitting a nuclear warhead to our already devastating feral cat population. So-called “Savannah cats” are more than double the size of domestic cats and can jump two metres from a standing start. Haven’t our native animals got enough to contend with?”
The practice of hybridising wild and domestic animals deserves much more scrutiny itself. An American breeder describes the issue on her own website:
…it can be extremely difficult to accomplish the Serval to domestic cat breeding. Whether it be the Serval male to the domestic female (which is most often the case), or to attempt a female Serval to a domestic male … because the Serval body type is so much longer and taller, this makes the pairing physically quite challenging. Add to that the differences in behavior between a wild cat and a domestic cat, and in some cases, too much aggression on the part of an intact adult Serval …
“I think anyone that forced a mating of an African Serval and a domestic cat in Australia would find themselves in serious discussion with animal welfare authorities” said Professor Peacock. “It is certainly a practice we shouldn’t condone by allowing people to import this new style of fashion animal. We need to update our quarantine rules to keep up with this exotic pet trend”.
The same loophole would allow a variety of hybrid cats and potentially wolf-dog hybrids if they pass disease regulations.
“The Quarantine and Biosecurity Review provides a great opportunity to point out anomalies that need attention. This issue has arisen from the practice of breeding new animals that did not exist when laws and regulations were framed.”
“Our native animals are at risk because of a fashionable desire to own an exotic pet. The impact on these vulnerable species will remain long after the fashion dies out” said Professor Peacock.
Fashion breeds of cat bred through mating wild cats:
“Bengal Cat” hybrid with Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis (SE Asia, 6.8 kg) (already in Australia)
“Savannah Cat” hybrid with Serval Leptailurus serval (Africa, 20 kg)
“Safari Cat” hybrid with Geoffroy’s cat Leopardus geoffroyi (S. America, 4 kg)
“Chausie” hybrid with Jungle Cat Felis chaus (Asia, 16 kg)
“Serengeti cat” Bengal cat/ Asian Short-haired cat hybrid
See Big Cat Rescue’s concerns: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiLAcEp5Vng
Prof Tony Peacock
Invasive Animals CRC
Ph: 0402 036 110
University of Canberra, Canberra ACT 2601
But What About An F4 Bengal Cat?
I’ve had my F4 Bengal, Lelu, for nine years, since she was about 15 weeks old. She was a rescue from a terrible breeder, who is thankfully no longer in business. After nearly a decade, I have some warnings for people looking to buy a hybrid cat:
1. HYBRID CATS ARE DESTRUCTIVE. No matter how well trained, no matter how sweet, they destroy things. I have to keep fragile knick knacks in locked china cases. Anything that is out has to be able to take the fall and not break, because she will knock it off whatever it is sitting on. She chews holes in mini blinds just to get a better view. If it is shaped like a pen or pencil, she will take it; this includes pulling straws out of drinks while you are holding them. If it has fur, leather, suede or feathers on it, she will attack it, drag it to her “den,” chew it to shreds, and usually pee on it for good measure. She steals shiny things, such as rings or bracelets, tears up vent covers, and drops the jewelry inside. I’ve done more to Lelu-proof my house than I ever had to do when my daughter was a baby.
2. HYBRID CATS WILL HAVE NIGH UNBREAKABLE HABITS. It took two years to break Lelu of the habit of nursing – sucking on my shirt, frequently in the middle of the night so I’d wake up with a giant cat drool spot. She yowls, constantly, louder than a Siamese, and nothing can make her stop. I had to learn to tune it out just so I could sleep or watch TV. She bites. She plays with water in the toilet – and will lift the lid if you close it so she can keep playing. I did manage to get her to use a scratching post (Lelu is NOT declawed), but it took years and a constant application of cat nip. Now, I cannot replace it – she will not accept a substitution. She guards the food – and maintains her place as alpha cat in the house violently if necessary. Fortunately, my other cat is perfectly comfortable letting her run the show.
3. HYBRID CATS WILL ATTACH TO ONE PERSON. While this may sound like a good thing, it can be a very bad one. Lelu is attached to me, which means that no matter where I am in the house or what I’m doing, she is there. If I am seated, she is in my lap, including at the dinner table. Pushing her down does no good – she never takes the hint. She will keep jumping into my lap, or she will dig her claws in to prevent being pushed off of me. She follows me into the bathroom, even gets in the shower with me. If I close a door to keep her out, she will actually rip chunks out of the door. When I leave the house, she yowls until a return. When I go on vacation, she won’t eat. If someone sits next to me on the couch, she will wiggle her way between us in order to establish her possession of me. She has attacked people who try to remove her from my lap. I would expect that if I ever gave her to another home, she would completely lose the thin veneer of domesticity she has.
4. HYBRID CATS RARELY GET ALONG WITH OTHER PETS. I have, through a great deal of patience and extremely slow integration over a period of months, managed to get Lelu to accept three additional pets, two other cats and a ferret. In each case, I had to have the new pet locked in one room for over a month, only bringing them together under supervision. Even still, Lelu is extremely territorial and possessive – she tolerates the other animals, but there is no real bond. She gets along best with my ferret, but I think that’s because my ferret is the only pet I have that can outrun her. It is also my understanding that the two of them getting along is highly unusual.
5. HYBRID CATS ARE NEUROTIC. Every Bengal I’ve ever seen or heard of has some sort of anxiety issues. Lelu, for example, stress grooms. The insides or her front legs are completely devoid of fur. If she’s under extreme stress, she will actually lick skin off until she bleeds.
6. HYBRID CATS ARE KILLERS. I have a dirt crawl space in my house, so I get mice, insects, even the occasional snake. Lelu kills them. She doesn’t play with them, she pounces, kills, and walks away. This is great for keeping my house pest free without chemicals, but not such a good habit when you bring a new baby pet home. She tried to kill a kitten I rescued from outside. I was helping to rehab a deformed chick hatchling from a class project, and she actually tore the latching cage top off the cage to get to the chick (fortunately I heard the noise and caught her in time). I watch very carefully when babies are around, too.
7. HYBRID CATS ARE SMART. Lelu can open any door she can get leverage or a grip on. Everything must lock or latch, or she will open it. She understands how to use mirrors to see around corners, and recognizes her own reflection vs. another cat’s. She actually uses the full length mirror in my bedroom to attack my other cats. She can and will open pill bottles that don’t have safety caps. She fishes cigarettes out of packs and eats them. She flushes toilets to watch the water run. She turns the stereo on and off to watch the lights flicker. Nothing is safe.
8. HYBRID CATS HAVE STRANGE HEALTH ISSUES. Lelu has a chronic cough; nothing gets rid of it or alleviates it. I’ve heard of bowel issues in Bengals, as well as neurological problems such as seizures or nervous tics. They also have strange reactions to normal veterinary medicines; you cannot take your hybrid to a regular veterinarian, you must take them to an exotic vet. Fortunately, I live near one of the best exotic pet clinics in the country. Lelu is allergic to flea bites. The one time she got fleas each bite turned into a huge weeping sore. When I got her spayed, she ripped the stitches out three times, two times by bending around the funnel collar, until there wasn’t enough flesh left to re-stitch. We had to pack the raged open wound with Neosporin to get it to heal. The scar is horrific.
In conclusion, I would say that it takes a very unusual person to keep a hybrid cat, and keep them well and happy. It’s similar to having a baby, except imagine the baby is deaf and will stay in their terrible twos for 15-20 years. I love my cat, and have not regretted any sacrifice I have made to give her a happy home. I will continue to own rescued hybrids – I know how to raise and care for them now, they fit with my personality and lifestyle, and so many need good homes that I could provide, I feel obligated to do what I can to help. But if you value your knick knacks, want a low maintenance pet, or just “like the look” of a hybrid, you need to NOT own one. They are, and will continue to be throughout their lives, wild animals. If what you want is a spotted cat, check out the ocicat breed – they are not hybrids.
Christine Stark email@example.com