Hybrid Cats Not Suitable Pets

Supercats that may still be too wild for a family home

“Supercats” closely descended from wild animals represent a danger to other pets and even small children, animal welfare groups fear.

 By Jasper Copping
Published: 9:53PM BST 19 Sep 2009

The savannah, the most popular, is bred from a serval, a cheetah-like wildcat found in Africa. It can grow three times larger than a domestic cat and can jump 7ft vertically.

Another breed to have arrived in Britain is the safari, produced by mating a domestic cat with a South American Geoffroy’s Cat. There are also plans by breeders to import the caracat, descended from a caracal, a lynx-like wildcat found in the Middle East and Africa. The savannah is banned in some US states and in Australia, where there were concerns it could kill koalas.

In Britain, the “first generation” of savannah and safari cats descended from wildcats can only be kept under licence and in outdoor cages, in accordance with the Dangerous Wild Animals Act (DWAA). Subsequent generations, however, can be kept as normal pets.

The breeds are not recognised by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy, the feline equivalent of the Kennel Club. John Hansson, its chairman, said: “Our policy dictates that we should not be recognising any more breeds that have actual wildcats in their background because of the instability and the element of the unknown.”

Peter Neville, an expert in pet behaviour from the Feline Advisory Bureau (FAB), said: “Cats are predators. I wouldn’t be happy with a savannah around a small child, because of their genes and their size.

“They are going to do a lot more damage than a normal domestic cat. Their paws are bigger, they are stronger and they will bite deeper. Just because you can tame one, doesn’t mean you can tame all.”

Claire Bessant, from the FAB, said: “This is a scary trend. The savannah is a big cat that is close to the wild. We are introducing something that is likely to have issues and it worries me a lot."

An RSPCA spokesman said: “The savannah cat is likely to exhibit a range of temperamental characteristics from both domestic cats and the wildcat species, and as such could prove to be dangerous.”

Beth Skillings, from Cats Protection, said: “Any new wildcat hybrid is likely to retain traits related to its wildcat ancestry."

The Savannah Cat Club of Great Britain (SCCGB) warns owners that the animals should not be left alone with young children – but adds that this should apply with all breeds of cat.

Other owners warn that if the cats do not receive “24/7” attention for the first, formative weeks, they can turn feral.

In the wild, servals mostly live off rodents, but they have been observed taking gazelles and springboks. They have a top speed of 50mph and weigh up to 55lbs. The savannah can grow up to 35lb – compared with around 10lb for a typical cat.

The animal was bred in the United States in the 1980s and is thought to have first arrived in Britain within the past two years. There are already thought to be up to 300 living here (UK).


For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org

Until Sept. 27, 2009 you can vote once a day for Scott Lope, our Operations's manager, to win Animal Planet's Hero of the Year Award.  As many of you already know, Scott had a career in medicine, but gave it up to be a full time volunteer and then staff at Big Cat Rescue.  You can see a video of him in action rescuing all kinds of animals in addition to the care he provides the big cats at Big Cat Rescue on our web site at http://www.BigCatRescue.org

Please help him win as this is great publicity for the plight of big cats and it will provide $10,000 in cash to feed the cats at Big Cat Rescue as well as a much needed vacation for Scott.  Your DAILY vote can win this for us here:

http://animal.discovery.com/roar/hero-of-the-year/vote/

Free ways to join us and help the big cats:

Twitter:  Follow Me and be invited to enter our Animal Lover's Dream Vacation Giveaway!  http://twitter.com/BigCatRescue

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