The rise of the supercat
In our “bigger-is-better,” super-size-me society, it may not come as much of a surprise that demand for designer “supercats” — domestic breeds crossed with larger, exotic African or South American wildcats — is surging skyward.
In the United Kingdom, breeders are reporting up to six-month waiting lists for new kittens, despite price tags upwards of 6,000 pounds (more than US$9,500)!
According to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act, first generation supercats must be licensed and kept in outdoor cages in the United Kingdom. Subsequent generations can be kept as normal pets.
The Savannah breed is the most popular of the supercats. They are bred from a serval, a cheetah-like wildcat found in Africa. But animal welfare groups warn that the larger size (they can grow up to 35 pounds compared with around 10 pounds for a typical domestic house cat), increased agility (they can jump seven feet vertically) and inherent “wildness” of feline hybrids means they could pose a danger to other pets and even small children. Their paws and fangs are bigger and they are stronger so they have the potential to do a lot more damage than a normal domestic cat.
But the Savannah Cat Club of Great Britain insists that they are suitable pets. (Britain estimates to have around 300 Savannahs currently living there.) Club President Donna Peynado claims, “There are no more safety concerns than for any other breeds,” adding, “We always advise never ever leave a cat alone with a child under five.”
These exotic cats are currently banned in Australia, where there are concerns that they could have a huge impact on native wildlife, such as birds and koalas. They are also banned in some U.S. states, including New York, although most states regard the Savannah as a domestic cat (which is in accordance with federal and United States Department of Agriculture recommendations). Alaska, Iowa, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Georgia all restrict ownership of hybrid cats. Cross-bred animals are usually sterile, but U.S. breeders have successfully created long lineages of the Savannah, with the intent of keeping them as serval-like as possible.
Other supercats include the Safari cat, a cross with the South American Geoffroy’s cat, and the Caracat, a 30-pound descendant of the Caracal, a lynx-like wildcat found in the Middle East and Africa (which was then crossbred with an Abyssinian domestic cat).
Posted By: Amelia Glynn (Email) October 13 2009 at 02:58 PM
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org
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