Wild Cats as Pets?

The only thing cuter than a cat is a tiny version of a big cat. Seriously, how awesome would it be to own a little Shetland lion? However, there arent many cats around that fit the bill unless you venture into the world of exotic breeds.

Bobcat-related fatalities are rare, of course, but there will always be the possibility that your cat could go off the rails and do a massive amount of damage to you or a family member. Featured Image Credit: Vince Smith, FlickrAlso known as Savannah cats, Servals are basically miniature Cheetahs.

They have long legs and big pointy ears and are covered in black markings, and they will likely cause people to panic if they see them out and about. Theyre much more interested in birds and mice or their wet food so youll need to be careful about overfeeding, as they can be prone to obesity when kept in captivity. Credit: Jukka Jantunen, ShutterstockThe Canadian Lynx is much like a bobcat, with two key differences: They dont bond as tightly to their owners, but theyre not as prone to flights of fury.

Image Credit: Vladimir Wrangel, ShutterstockThe Fishing Cat is the rare feline that actually loves to splash around in the water, so you may want to invest in a fountain or two if you decide to bring one home. They havent been domesticated in the least, so theyll probably view you as a potential predator who brings them food every day for some reason. Featured Image Credit: Tambako The Jaguar, FlickrThe most famous ocelot was the one that Salvador Dali kept as a pet, named Babou.

Image by Kristin Guyer from PixabayCaracals are kind of a cross between Servals and Lynxes, although they tend to be more approachable than either breed. Native to Asia and Egypt, jungle cats are extremely nervous creatures, even when theyve been living in the same house for several years.

Can I have a wild cat as a pet?

This is because exotic cats like wildcats are not good to keep as pets. They are usually not domesticated, and they would probably rather live in the wild than in a human household. It’s much better to adopt a regular cat from a shelter than pay the often sky-high prices of an exotic cat.

What is the best wild cat to have as a pet?

Bobcat. With the right owner, this wild cat can be a perfect pet. Bobcats are a medium-sized cat with a short tail, and they come in a variety of colors with spots or stripes. These cats are highly affectionate and have a strong bond with their owners.

Many cats kept as pets today have wild roots, and when it comes to domesticated wild cat breeds, the roots are easy to see. If you love the wild look, consider one of these sleek beauties.

While they are accomplished jumpers and need lots of attention, these felines love their owners and family. Unlike the hybrid pixiebob, a serval is an exotic cat that is legal in some states to keep as a pet.

These golden cats with black spots and cheetah like faces have distinctive large ears and can weigh up to 40 pounds. A type of lynx, the caracal has very distinctive large pointed black ears with curling fur tufts.

If youre looking for a wild-like cat, but arent thrilled about the idea of a tiger living in your house, you might be on the search for small exotic breeds that you can choose from. Some of the breeds we have to explore might require permits, while others only look the part.

Image Credit: Agarianna76, ShutterstockWhile the Ocicat looks quite exotic, there is no actual evidence of wild cats in their gene pool. Image Credit: Kutikova Ekaterina, ShutterstockThe newly developed Toyger is a special breed designed to look just like a Tigeronly toy size (hence the name.)

However, this kitty actually has no wild roots to speak of, bread with the Bengal and ordinary tabby cat. Image Credit: Felicia Heisterkamp, ShutterstockThe Pixie-bob cat looks interestingly like a wild Lynx or bobcat. But commonly, breeders associate the mixture of a typical barn cat with a bobcat, historically speaking.

They love lounging around the house in their favorite napping spots but wont turn down playtime if the mood strikes. Theyve undergone no domestication, so they arent traditional pets, but experienced big cat owners might keep them. Image Credit: tsapenkodg, PixabayThe graceful Abyssinian is a distinctive breed with a ticked tabby coat.

These cats absolutely adore climbing, so if you have one in your home space, make sure to have lots of places high up above that they could hang out. Image Credit: MDavidova, ShutterstockThe Egyptian Mau is a highly energetic, wild-like cat with impressive featureslike their signature gooseberry green eyes. Ashley Bates is a freelance dog writer and pet enthusiast who is currently studying the art of animal therapy.

A mother to four human children and 23 furry and feathery kids, too Ashley volunteers at local shelters, advocates for animal well-being, and rescues every creature she finds.

Exotic pets are a hugely diverse group of animals that range from betta fish to Bengal tigers. Therefore, it is often erroneously assumed that all exotic (or non-domesticated) cats in captivity pose the same threat to the populace as would a lion or leopard. In reality, there are a few small cat species that most people don’t even know exist that make reasonable pets for the right owners.

Tigers, lions, and cheetahs often steal the spotlight in wildlife documentaries and zoos, which can become a problem for the unknown small cat species that are in desperate need of public attention due to their threatened statuses in the wild. Given their small size and natural history, they are not animals that would seek to prey on humans.

However, for more adventurous pet owners, with the right income, living situation, and permits (or laws not regulating the ownership of the animal), they can be exceptionally rewarding. Electing to care for animals like these is life changing, and it is not a decision to be taken lightly. For those considering an exotic cat as a pet, make sure you do ample research.

Require large outdoor caging and/or a room dedicated to the animal. It may also be difficult to find a vet with the proper knowledge and experience for your animal. Are illegal in most states , or require permits and licensing often not given to pet owners.

Now that we have that out of the way, scroll down and continue reading about 10 small exotic cat species that can be kept as pets. Every once in a while, a pet serval (or Savannah cat, discussed further below) will escape from a residence and will be labeled by the news media as a cheetah, which it superficially resembles due to its spotted markings and long legs in comparison to its body. The serval, however, has large pointed ears like a fennec fox and is much shorter than the bigger cat that it shares its range with in the wild.

Servals will flee from the presence of humans and have not been recorded killing any member of our species as of yet. Servals are aloof, quiet, and may be tolerant of other pets when raised in the home. Servals are often used as educational animals; you might have seen them being walked on a leash and demonstrating their amazing jumping ability to an audience.

Servals are prone to weight gain without adequate exercise and enrichment, so this species needs an owner who’ll encourage this. Native habitat : Found throughout North America, from southern Canada to central Mexico. Bobcats may have the best companion animal personality of all the exotic cats because they bond strongly with their owners.

However, the catch is that bobcats actually do possess the strength to kill an adult human, although this has not occurred in recent history, from what I can find. They are short, but they are muscular, and they do have success hunting fully grown deer in the wild, making one suspect that they can easily and fatally attack humans. Fortunately, this does not seem to have occurred with any captive-bred pet, but it does reveal that this animal should be heavily supervised around children (or kept away from them).

They should, like other wild cats, have a large outdoor cage to retreat to during the periods when they become moody. The video below shows just how lovable a naturally solitary, bold, top-level predator like a bobcat can become when it is raised in captivity. Natural habitat : Native to Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and India.

When caracals do play, they are rambunctious and destructive with average household objects and furniture. These cats possess adept climbing ability, and they prefer to be at high points in the home. Unlike a bobcat, they may not form a devoted relationship with their human, but their temperamental fits are less severe.

Adult Siberian lynxes reach about 24 inches at the shoulder and weigh 40-80 pounds (weights vary with gender). These animals are very energetic and playful, love walking on a leash, and have a dog-like personality. Their active nature may require a spacious house with no breakable valuables present.

Ocelots are a small wild cat from South America (although they can be found as far north as Texas). They have large glassy eyes and beautiful markings, making their appeal as a pet obvious. Ocelots are also, in comparison to the other wild cats, more challenging to maintain as pets.

Unlike the more relatively social cats, ocelots will not pay attention to disciplinary commands and have a pungent odor. They are generally only held in USDA licensed facilities because they are a felid tag (a wildcat advisory group) managed species. Kapi’yva Exotics maintains the only private collection of these animals (they are accredited by the Zoological Association of America).

They have been introduced to the private pet trade in other countries, however (probably through illegal or unethical means). Diet : Eats small animals like rodents, lizards, and insects. Taking their native region into account, they can survive extreme heat and cold conditions.

They are also relatively rare in the pet trade, and their gene pool is unfortunately limited in captivity. The Geoffroy’s cat’s CITES status is Appendix 1, meaning their trade is strictly regulated, but allowed. Therefore, this animal is a poor pet choice as it would require a lot of privacy and little noise pollution.

These shy cats can become aggressive in addition to their nervousness, and these qualities may amplify when they reach sexual maturity. Natural habitat : Can be found in the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, and southern China. They are also fragile cats that would require privacy in a quiet household (or be maintained in a well-sized outdoor enclosure for most of the time).

Asian leopard cats are shy and elusive in nature since they are nocturnal and wary of people. They are also poor house pets and do best with substantial time to themselves (and their own large enclosures). Some subspecies of leopard cat are endangered and require permits that are difficult to obtain.

Leopard cats are required to have documentation that proves they don’t belong to this endangered group. If you decide on getting a hybrid cat, keep in mind that you are still getting a wild animal. Cat hybrids have presented a sort of gray area in legal pet ownership.

In some states, such as California, a hybrid cat is considered a domestic animal. This hardly invalidates them as an option for some people who want what they have to offer as pets. This is perfect for fans of dogs, felines, and those that like the challenges that come with the husbandry of non-domesticated animals.

Many sites often state that all hybrid cats make bad petsthis is utter nonsense. Here is a quick rundown of which states allow you to own exotic pets. Please check with your state and local laws before looking into owning an exotic cat.

Arkansas: Ownership of animals like bobcats are allowed, but a person can’t own more than six. However, hybrids are allowed since they are considered domestic animals under California law. Kansas: This state allows exotic pets that are not considered to be dangerous, which includes small cats.

Nevada: There are no regulations on owning a small exotic cat in this state. South Carolina: Local animals like bobcats require a permit. Cat NameLitter Box UsageSocial or Well-Mannered?Destructive Tendencies?Rare?Fair, can even be toilet-trained, but some spray.

Spotted Genet (rusty, small-spotted, large-spotted) Binturong (bear cat) Asian Palm Civet Fossa Tayra Question: I live in Washington (USA) is it legal to capture a wild ocelot kitten and tame it? Answer: Ocelots are rare in the U.S. and I highly doubt you can catch and keep them legally in any state.

Specifically, they can be found in China, Eastern Russia, Indochina, India, the Philippines and Sunda Islands. I adopted a orange tabby mix, 2 years ago at human society.. Moved 3 weeks ago, and Lady never texted or called.. miss Ernie very much..I was down and out for a bit

You are fostering the desire in people to take in wild animals which often end up being euthanized when they become adults and are no longer so easy to keep. You are part of the problem by creating a population of unwanted adult wild animals. I would encourage readers to consult The Wildcat Sanctuary website to become educated on the plight of too many unwanted wild cats due to greedy breeders and unaware buyers.

Be wise…refuse to be lured into wildcat offerings that lead to unhappiness for you and doom for the animal. It was a wonderful experience which I hope one day to duplicate by owning a small wildcat If you find an orphaned wild bobcat, lynx, deer etc there are licensed wildlife rehabilitation centers in most states that have facilities and experience in raising them .

These kittens are trained and not allowed to become tame so they can be released back to the wild. Google search wildlife rehabilitation centers in your area and do the right thing Why would you encourage the foolish and cruel practice of keeping wild animals as pets in the backyard of some idiot trying to impress his or her neighbors?

For those wanting exotic cats or wolves, you have to remember they have special needs and vet care far different than their domestic cousins. I never understood why people want exotic pets, especially when they dont know the special needs and so many friendly domestic breeds are being euthanized everyday for lack of forever homes and loving families. To Shauna: re your on comment bottom the pic of the spotty cat on a leash “is not a savannah, but a bengal”.

That said I agree that cat pic is not a good sample of a savannah, if it is even one, watered down by it’s domestic input. It’s build is too far off from the savannah serval inherited traits of longer limbs, upright+ish posture appearance. Aside from the ears, it DOES look more like an absolutely no show standard “back yard bred BENGAL”.

Lovely cat regardless of whatever it is, but not a useful one as an example of either recognised hybrid breed, wether savannah or bengal. I adopted a tiny kitten that was fiund at my daughter’s house when it was rainy abd cold. They are wonderful to own IF- and may I stress IF- you are RESPONSIBLE, RESPECT the animal, and are EDUCATED.

Everyone who insists that people who own cats like these is supporting animal poaching needs to do more research. Typically people who live in rural or semi-rural areas take them in if they are found orphaned and abandoned, particularly if they are injured. I am particularly amused by the person who thinks that after working with (probably large) predators in military facilities, he knows what a thirty-pound serval that has been raised by a human family will do in a home.

We wouldn’t have pets if wolves and small wildcats hadn’t chosen to join human settlements because it made their lives and ours easier. Then people like the failed exotics breeder who sold out to the animal rights movement and founded “Big Cat ‘Rescue'” use them as an example of how terrible it is to keep a serval as a pet when what’s actually terrible is taking them away from their people–servals should not be re-homed unless the owner has died or is malicious; in the cases of well-meaning but ignorant owners, education of the owner is better for the cat than confiscating it is. To MiriD: I have worked with predators in the past – in corporations, in military facilities, I am getting my Masters in human behavior.

I don’t support taking wild animals and taming them, or declawing, by the captive pets are JUST FINE! The best you can do is not formulate valid arguments, but claim I am a white man like a stupid 1st grader. This “Melissa A Smith” is a troll with a vested interest in the exotic pet trade.

She’s too much of a coward to show her face in her author photo, and I’d be shocked if she’s even a she — I’m imagining an overweight white dude hunkered down in a house that smells like exotic animal piss. Clayton Forrester The cerebellum coordinates muscle control, so what does that have to do with owning exotic pets? On the other hand, I think someone would have to have a damaged cerebrum to judge someone for owning an animal.

Please stop assuming I’m some idiot who hasn’t heard these arguments and is completely naive. You don’t think I realize that people incorrectly believe that cats and exotic pets are different? You’re wasting your time parroting the same crap I’ve refuted for years, and it doesn’t make my exotics any less of a pet that I own.

But Invariably most people who have a combination of a large ego and a small cerebellum and raise dangerous animals eventually suffer the consequences. The exotic pet trade is just this – any time you buy one of these animals, you will be supporting the exotic trade that takes these animals from their native territory, upsetting the fragile ecosystems, or breeding them in inhumane conditions within the United States. Furthermore, the exotic pet trade also has abundant breeding techniques that result in crazy amounts of deformities in these animals.

I have worked with predators in the past – in zoos, in rehab facilities, I am getting my Masters in tiger behavior. he was wet, bedraggled, cold and hungry so I naturally put him in the game bag of my hunting coat and brought him home with me. He adopted my two younger sisters and became their constant bodyguard and protector when they were playing outdoors.

Tom loved dogs and was accepted by all our English setters after a period of sorting out who was boss. By the time he was four years old Tom had grown to 52 pounds on our scales and one hundred percent muscle. It was fun to watch guests who didn’t know about our feline family member freeze in their tracts upon meeting him for the first time.

By now you have probably realized that I am old and gray and spend a considerable amount of time in the past, if so you are exactly right. despite the fact that I have hunted all my life and still do, I love and respect all animals and am a staunch conservationist. I read comments where people question the whole idea of bringing a so-called exotic cat into their home.

I knew a friend in Panama who had a pair of ocelots who were an absolute joy to be around. Even as a child walking through the woods and picking up the kittens I seldom saw and was never approached by an adult bobcat. I had a pet lynx and needed to move into the Forrest in order to keep him happy.

Wow, author is obviously very uneducated and supporting the abuse exotic pet trade. Like, omg “Hana” you didn’t need to comment 3 times pretending to be different people. That’s the point, I have no shame in being a zoo attender or exotic pet keeper and if you really do have a degree it shows they will dole them out to any halfwit.

I have a degree in zookeeping, biology and pre-vet reqs and work as a wildlife rehabber. ZOO ATTENDER-SOMEONE WHO DOESNT HAVE JACK SHIT FOR ACTUAL EXOTIC EXPERIENCE OR A DEGREE IN ANYTHING ANIMAL RELATED sad she condones the abuse of these beautiful animals and mentions declawing-which is illegal in the US to do to exotic cats.

They should be banned in ALL States and sites like this are encouraging an abusive trade that is decimating wild cat populations. I find it disgusting you mentioned that the bob cats will shred furniture without being declawed-almost encouraging the procedure. Forget the litter box they stand when they pee and miss it 9 times out of 10 even when your using a large storage bin.

They are amazing animals if you get one with the right temperment but look at the pet rescues to see why they are surrendered before you make a decision. Well some of this stuff is good information, none of these wild cats can be kept legally without a permit in most States. the way you can tell is that the spots are open in the middle (like donuts) if you google Savanah images you will see a Savannah has solid spots almost similar to a cheetah, there is much more color variety in Bengals than Savannahs.

I am 67 yrs old, love most animals (snakes, spiders and most insects weird me out). I have had cats most of my adult life and two dogs (one as a kid and currently have a 16 yr old Jack Russell that I inherited from my Mom when she passed away in 2004). Annie had one idiosyncracy, she liked cantaloupe to the point she would sit in front of the fridge until she was given some.

My Mom’s dog would try to get the cats‘ food so my Mom set two places at the kitchen table for the cats complete with plastic place mats, saucers with their names and two short bar stools condition on while they are. When Annie went blind at the age of 20 after talking and hitting her head Mom moved her water bowl and litter box into her room and would feed her on the bed and warned everyone not to move any furniture around because the cat was used to where things were. We lost Cello in 2000 to a seizure disorder but she had her talents also she would sit on the back of a sofa or easy chair and massage Mom’s head (seriously, no claws just) and she could unlock doors and manipulate any kind of doorknob and open it (could even open panel and accordian doors): we baby proofed all the kitchen drawers and cabinets but Cello learned how to manipulate those latches.

After Annie died I got another cat, Roxie a Siamese, that was very attached to Mom and when Mom died and we brought her ashes home Roxie laid on the box of ashes day and night and would occasionally yowel as if crying. After they were old enough to jump over the 30 inch gate in they’re room is when they had run of the house, played with when ever they were awake always. So remember if you raise a bengal kitty start the lov’un before they even see you cause they’ll know you by smell and taste as the lick you.

If you own a feline big or small, and consider declawing; please do an in-depth research, and understand the procedure and aftermath. Love this article i have had many exotic cat breeds over th years including servals and they are ajoy nothing can replace my time with them never had a problem not even furniture they had big encloser outside and come in and out as they pleased This rumor about a pixie bob being part bobcat was started so that breeders could charge more for their kitties.

If you have an early generation chausie or jungle Bob you will have one smart cat that will give you years of love. She has bonded with me quite strongly, but will allow my grown sons and my husband to pet her and play “ping pong” with her (we toss ping pong balls to her on her cat tree and she skillfully bats them away). We also adopted a baby kitten that’s of no particular breed – just an orange ball of fluff – and after 2 or 3 days of hissing she gradually began to “mother” him, and now they are truly best friends.

I am definitely NOT up to a challenging pet like this but we knew someone with a bobcat kitten once, he was a real handful. Keeping a hamster in a horse stable or feeding rabbit chow to a dog is in NO WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM comparable to exotic pet ownership. Feeding rabbit chow to a dog is also stupid, as it will lead to malnutrition if fed that in the long term, but it certainly isnt dangerous.

Stating that an author from the ASPCA lacks basic animal knowledge is astounding, foolish, and, to be quite honest, pretty amusing to me. Go ahead, send me more “sources”; I’m sure they’ll be links to more opinionated, uneducated blogs; perhaps even one of your own again. Sourcing your opinions with your OWN articles makes zero sense and does not provide valid, scientific proof of your points.

I don’t even need to prove to you that you’re wrong; I can rest assured knowing that your readers are able to see these links and get their hands on CREDIBLE sources. Also, I’d like to ask how my links are stupid, and how that is a valuable and reliable argument against valid facts. Basically, you’re coming back to a sourced, educated argument with: “your links are stupid, I’ve been posting on a website for longer than you so I’m obviously right”.

Do you know how much I care about the opinion of someone who can’t stop spewing romantic, empty rhetoric to try to convince me I’m wrong? I was wondering if you would write an article about the proposed ban in Florida and California? Unfortunately, all the exotic cats are either impossible to find or listed as a “dangerous wild animal” in Texas which is pitiful.

In fact, according to vague Texas law, all Savannah cats are listed as dangerous as well, which is utmost disappointing. What I want to know next though, is if there are any exotic cat lobby organizations (like USARK is for reptiles) or if there’s any way I can move to have this law rewritten to exempt savannah cats or *hopefully* have servals removed. Speaking of USARK, have you heard of their recent lawsuit over the three banned pythons and the yellow anaconda?

Bobcats

Bobcats are popular because when raised from kittenhood, they tend to bond strongly with their owners, making them behave like giant versions of regular housecats. They’ll also bond with dogs, other cats, and even deer, so long as they’re raised with them.However, the downside is that Bobcats can kill you if they feel like it. Bobcat-related fatalities are rare, of course, but there will always be the possibility that your cat could go off the rails and do a massive amount of damage to you or a family member.

Servals

Also known as Savannah cats, Servals are basically miniature Cheetahs. They have long legs and big pointy ears and are covered in black markings, and they will likely cause people to panic if they see them out and about.There’s not much to fear from these cats, though, as there’s never been a recorded human fatality from a Serval. They’re much more interested in birds and mice — or their wet food — so you’ll need to be careful about overfeeding, as they can be prone to obesity when kept in captivity.

Canadian Lynx

The Canadian Lynx is much like a bobcat, with two key differences: They don’t bond as tightly to their owners, but they’re not as prone to flights of fury. They kind of just want to be left alone.These cats are incredible climbers, so you’ll need several tall cat trees in your home. They’ll spend most of their time lounging around from the highest perch they can find, but don’t worry, you’ll know they’re there, as they shed frequently.

Siberian Lynx

A close relative to the Canadian Lynx, the Siberian Lynx is much bigger than its cousin, as it can weigh two to three times as much. Luckily, they act much like dogs and can be extremely outgoing and affectionate.They also love to tear around your house at high speeds, knocking over anything that gets in their way, with little regard for how valuable it is. Fortunately, they do most of this running around late at night, as this breed is mostly nocturnal.

Fishing Cats

The Fishing Cat is the rare feline that actually loves to splash around in the water, so you may want to invest in a fountain or two if you decide to bring one home. The species is endangered, though, so you’re probably better off leaving them to conservationists.While they’re legal to own in most places, it’s not a good idea. They haven’t been domesticated in the least, so they’ll probably view you as a potential predator who brings them food every day for some reason.

Ocelots

The most famous ocelot was the one that Salvador Dali kept as a pet, named Babou. Dali took this cat with him wherever he went, including restaurants. Dali was not receptive to any attempts to discriminate against his big cat either. He was most likely fortunate that Babou never maimed anyone, because an Ocelot’s personality is not as cuddly as their appearance. These cats will growl, swipe, and refuse any attempts to rein in their wild behavior — and if that’s not enough, they have a rank odor about them.

Geoffroy’s Cats

If you want a wild cat that won’t pose a threat to your family, then a Geoffroy’s Cat is a great choice. They weigh between 4-8 pounds when fully grown, so the only way that they’ll kill you is with cuteness.They don’t really like people, though — or anyone else, really. These cats will keep to themselves as much as possible, so you can share your home with one and hardly ever see it.

Caracals

Caracals are kind of a cross between Servals and Lynxes, although they tend to be more approachable than either breed. They act like really big housecats, making them one of the species most suitable for use as pets on this list.However, all of the play and affection that you offer them has to be given on their terms. You can’t just walk up and pet them (or God forbid, pick them up), because they’ll quickly put you in your place. They also hiss, which can be extremely creepy.

Jungle Cats

These animals just look like overgrown house cats. Native to Asia and Egypt, jungle cats are extremely nervous creatures, even when they’ve been living in the same house for several years. Expect them to run for the nearest hiding place whenever something unexpected happens.They like to be left alone, so they’re not a good fit for needy cat owners. They do best in enclosed outdoor spaces, so if you can fence in your patio, that might be the best place to keep them.

Asian Leopard Cats

Asian Leopard Cats aren’t actual leopards, although they do a good imitation of those animals. These cats are much smaller, roughly the size of the average housecat, and they’re the forebears of the popular Bengal breed.These cats can make good pets, but only if they’re properly socialized from a young age. Even under the best circumstances, they’ll need plenty of alone time, so try not to overwhelm them with affection.

Domestic Cats With Wild Roots

There are several cats that have exotic roots. These are typically known as hybrid cats.

Savannah

The savannah cat is a domesticated hybrid descended from the African serval. It was bred to mimic a cheetah. The savannah is one of the tallest domesticated cats, and it reaches about 25 pounds. They have a high energy level and require lots of exercise. They are highly intelligent and have a mild temperament if they are properly socialized. They also bond well with their owners and are extremely loyal.

Bengal

The Bengal cat finds its roots in the Asian leopard cat. These sweet cats have stripe patterns that are similar to a Bengal tiger, but they are a much smaller version, only weighing at about 10 to 15 pounds. Bengal cats are social cats with high energy levels. They are also intelligent and love their owners.

Chausie

Topping out at about 25 pounds for males and 20 pounds for females, Chausie cats have a long body that is typically tabby, black, or sliver tipped. This active breed is a descended from jungle cats. While they are accomplished jumpers and need lots of attention, these felines love their owners and family.

Pixiebob

The natural child of a short hair cat and bobcat, pixiebob cats have pointed ears, short tails, and stripes. They are affectionate and described by some as dog-like due to their devotion to their human. This breed is also intelligent and adaptable in the family. For example, they can get along with both dogs and children.

Exotic Cats That Are Legal Pets

There are also several exotic cats that can be legal to have as a pet in several states. However, remember every state does not allow ownership of exotic animals, and you might need to apply for a license.

Serval

Unlike the hybrid pixiebob, a serval is an exotic cat that is legal in some states to keep as a pet. These golden cats with black spots and cheetah like faces have distinctive large ears and can weigh up to 40 pounds. They are playful, high-energy cats. To keep them in your home, they will require training. However, they are difficult to train and not very friendly. They are highly intelligent and moderately affectionate to their owners.

Bobcat

With the right owner, this wild cat can be a perfect pet. Bobcats are a medium-sized cat with a short tail, and they come in a variety of colors with spots or stripes. These cats are highly affectionate and have a strong bond with their owners. However, these are wild cats so owners must be willing to adapt to and deal with aggression. These cats will also need outdoor accommodations they can’t escape from.

Caracal

A type of lynx, the caracal has very distinctive large pointed black ears with curling fur tufts. They can grow to nearly 50 pounds and need to eat meat daily. Additionally, these wild cats aren’t particularly affectionate and can be destructive. Since they are wild, they can also be unpredictable and bite.

Ocelot

Another exotic cat that can be a pet is the ocelot. This medium cat with markings similar to a leopard has short, smooth fur that ranges from gray to tawny. Growing to an average of 35 pounds, these cats are nocturnal and eat mainly meat. They are intelligent cats prone to marking their territory. However, they are fairly social and will bond with their owners. Since they can and do bite, it is not advised to have them around children.

Chausie

The impressive Chausie was created by mixing the Abyssinian with wild jungle cats. Its impressive muscular structure and intense eyes offer a very exotic look, thanks to their wild cat cousins’ help.Chausies have a high prey drive, so they don’t work well with smaller pets. However, they tend to adore their humans and hate being left alone. Aside from needing constant company, these cats can be very adventurous and playful.If you buy from a breeder, Chausies typically range from $1,000 to $2,500 per kitten.

Bengal

The elegantly wild Bengal cat is the product of mixing domesticated cats like the Egyptian Mau with the Asian Leopard cat. These kitties have a solid form with beautiful spots, mimicking a traditional leopard in the jungle.Bangles are known for their highly charismatic personalities. They are brilliant and extremely active. Because of their boundless energy, they require appropriate outlets, so they don’t become destructive. A healthy Bengal needs space to run, play, climb, and claw at their leisure.If you purchase a Bengal, you can expect to pay in the ballpark of $1,500 to $3,000 per kitten.

Savannah Cat

Savannah cats are large domesticated felines that are ever-growing in popularity. There are various lines of this breed, all of which vary slightly in looks and personality. These cats were developed by crossing a Sevral with many common household cats.Savannah cats adore water, so you might find one accompanying you to the shower or trying to play in your dishwater. These cats are incredibly loyal and attentive—noticing everything around them with speed. They can even walk on leashes pleasantly if you train them well.If you’re looking to buy a Savannah kitten, you’ll dish out between $1,000 to $16,000 and beyond.

Ocicat

While the Ocicat looks quite exotic, there is no actual evidence of wild cats in their gene pool. Only domesticated cats show up when you divvy out the lineage. But that doesn’t stop them from stealing hearts with their intense looks and unique characters.Ocicats are incredibly social and interactive, even with unfamiliar pets and houseguests. They might shock you with their ability to catch onto concepts and even learn a few tricks. Because of their intelligence and desire to learn, they exhibit dog-like behavior—perfect for people who aren’t as keen about cats and their independent attitudes.If you buy an adorable Ocicat kitten, expect to pay between $500 and $1,200.

Toyger

The newly developed Toyger is a special breed designed to look just like a Tiger—only toy size (hence the name.) However, this kitty actually has no wild roots to speak of, bread with the Bengal and ordinary tabby cat. Thanks to selective breeding, breeders were able to develop all of the rugged looks owners crave.Toygers tend to be very social with their humans and can get along swimmingly with other pets. This cat breed is another that is very trainable on the leash. So, you can take your little guy or gal out for a night on the town.A Toyger kitten typically costs between $1,200 and $3,500.

Pixie-bob

The Pixie-bob cat looks interestingly like a wild Lynx or bobcat. There is some speculation on the origin of this breed. But commonly, breeders associate the mixture of a typical barn cat with a bobcat, historically speaking. All pixie-bobs have the classic bobtail, which makes them completely unique.Pixie-bobs are generally lovable and docile—not aggressive or high strung. They love lounging around the house in their favorite napping spots but won’t turn down playtime if the mood strikes.If you buy a Pixie-Bob kitten, you’ll pay somewhere between $1,800 to $3,000.

Fishing Cat

Fishing cats are a breed of wild cats found in Southeast Asia. They’ve undergone no domestication, so they aren’t traditional pets, but experienced big cat owners might keep them. They have powerful bodies and primal instincts, making them well-equipped for life in the wilderness.However, that doesn’t stop people from trying to domesticate these animals. If you’re interested, you should know that only highly experienced people with the right living circumstances should own one of these creatures. They’re very unlikely be traditional house cats.You have to have special permits or licenses to own a Fishing cat, and they certainly aren’t legal in every state. But if you check local laws and jump through hoops to get permission, expect to pay between $1,000 and $20,000–depending on age and quality.

Geoffreys Cat

The Geoffreys cat is a wild animal native to South America. These cats haven’t been domesticated with other breeds, although they are commonly kept as pets. In fact, because they’re so endangered, they’re encouraged to be kept in captivity so breeders can expand the population.These cats are nocturnal hunters, so they are most active when you sleep. Because of their wild roots, they won’t act like traditional house cats. In many areas, a permit or license is required before owning one.Geoffrey’s cats are very uncommon and endangered. However, you can get lucky and find one of these gorgeous specimens. Expect to pay between $7,000 and $10,000 for one kitten.

Abyssinian

The graceful Abyssinian is a distinctive breed with a ticked tabby coat. It is speculated that this breed started in Ethiopia, and it is one of the oldest cat breeds in human history. But even still today, it stands as one of the most popular breeds worldwide.The Abyssinian is a very energetic but docile cat. They tend to gravitate towards humans very well, presenting curious demeanors. These cats absolutely adore climbing, so if you have one in your home space, make sure to have lots of places high up above that they could hang out.The adorable Abyssinian cat costs in the ballpark of $500 to $1,200 from a reputable breeder.

Egyptian Mau

The Egyptian Mau is a highly energetic, wild-like cat with impressive features—like their signature gooseberry green eyes. This kitty Is the only naturally spotted domesticated cat breed.Early socialization is crucial for these cats. They tend to be very gentle and mild—even skittish of newcomers. While they might not take so kindly to unfamiliar faces, they form solid bonds with owners. This breed might work best in a kid-free home that is quiet and relaxed.If you want to own an Egyptian Mau, expect to dish out between $800 to $1,800.

Small Wild Cats as Pets

Exotic pets are a hugely diverse group of animals that range from betta fish to Bengal tigers. Therefore, it is often erroneously assumed that all exotic (or non-domesticated) cats in captivity pose the same threat to the populace as would a lion or leopard. In reality, there are a few small cat species that most people don’t even know exist that make reasonable pets for the right owners.Tigers, lions, and cheetahs often steal the spotlight in wildlife documentaries and zoos, which can become a problem for the unknown small cat species that are in desperate need of public attention due to their threatened statuses in the wild. However, nearly all of the smaller to medium-sized cats that are sometimes kept as pets in the United States are not endangered or threatened. Given their small size and natural history, they are not animals that would seek to prey on humans.

Servals

For those considering an exotic cat as a pet, make sure you do ample research. As a general rule, know that exotic cats:Now that we have that out of the way, scroll down and continue reading about 10 small exotic cat species that can be kept as pets.

How to Rehome an Exotic Cat

Here is a quick rundown of which states allow you to own exotic pets. Please check with your state and local laws before looking into owning an exotic cat.