Owning a Wild or Exotic Cat; Information, Laws, and Advice
Have you ever dreamed of living with a bobcat or having a pet tiger? You’re not alone, and many people share their lives responsibly and safely with such animals. My beloved companion is a African Serval, a very affectionate 33-pound spotted feline. However, this dream come true brings with it some very real challenges and responsibilities far beyond those facing the average pet owner.
A huge number of visitors to my exotic feline site are trying to make very important decisions. Should I get a exotic cat? Is this species the right fit for my family? Can I provide for one properly?
There are a number of things to take into consideration when deciding if exotic cat ownership is for you, and if the answer is yes, which species of exotic cat is suitable for your situation. They include:
- Your ability to make a lifetime commitment to an animal who sphynx kittens for sale near me may cause you considerable headaches
- Your ability to be a responsible owner
- Local and Federal Laws
- Your financial ability to provide proper care and housing for the cat
- Your level of experience in working with animals
- Size of the cat
- Disposition of the cat
- Endangered Species Status
Owning an exotic cat requires a lifetime commitment to a cat who may live to be 20 years old. If your circumstances change, the cat develops behaviors that are unacceptable to you, or you simply grow tired of caring for it, an exotic cat cannot simply be given over to your local humane society. Being placed in a new home is much more traumatic to an exotic cat than to most domestic animals and can cause a major change in their personality. In some cases, they may never accept a new owner. Qualified people willing to take in an adult exotic cat are hard to find, and no, the local zoo will not accept your cat. Large cats such as cougars and tigers are especially hard to place.
Everyone gets an animal with a certain dream in their minds about how that animal will behave, and some people cannot handle it if things turn out differently. For instance, if you want to own a tiger, you probably imagine being able to play with it and cuddle with it. That may happen; but if you undertake this responsibility you have to be prepared for the fact that you might not be able to so much as enter the cat’s enclosure safely, even if you raise him from a cub.
If you are interested in getting a small cat like a bobcat or a serval, you probably imagine sharing your household with it, as many people do. But what if that cat grows up to spray everything in sight?
If you’ve been researching the idea of owning an exotic cat, you’ve probably discovered how much conflicting information there is. Some sources seem to indicate that living with an exotic cat is no more challenging than feeding your pet goldfish. At the other end of the extreme spectrum, many sanctuaries and animal rights activists paint them as unmanageable creatures that no ordinary mortal could hope to deal with successfully. As is usually the case, the truth lies in a rational world between the two extremes. This site exists to provide realistic and balanced information.
Like all creatures, exotic cats are all individuals, and nobody can tell you exactly how your future cat will act. Generalizations can be made about the behavior of different species, but individual personalities and behavior traits vary widely. As a dog trainer, I have seen puppies with the perfect upbringing turn out dangerously aggressive, and severely abused dogs who were stable and friendly. I have met dangerous Golden Retrievers and unprovokable Pit Bulls. It’s the same with cats; you can generalize to a certain extent, but never count on those generalizations.
If you decide that you are serious about getting an exotic feline, one of the first things you need to do is learn the federal, state, county, and city laws regulating the ownership of the species you are considering in your area. Contarary to popular myth, exotic animal ownership is pretty heavily regulated. Laws and permit requirements vary widely from area to area, and owning exotic cats is banned altogether in many places.
The legal issues will become vastly more complicated if you are interested in owning a cat that is endangered. While it is not impossible, the additional laws and permits that you have to contend with makes owning an endangered cat an unrealistic goal for most people.
Owning an exotic cat means having to remain constantly aware of changing laws and of proposed legislation, and being prepared to fight for the continued right to own your beloved pet.
Owning an exotic cat can be quite expensive. You will need to take into consideration the cost of building a secure and spacious enclosure, feeding costs, veterinary costs, the initial purchase of the kitten, and incidental expenses which seem to crop up on a continual basis. The cost of owning a smaller cat such as a serval or bobcat is more likely to be affordable than that of owning a tiger or other large cat. When you get into the large cats you will find that your feeding and enclosure costs escalate dramatically