Say No To Hybrid Cats

NOTE: The Wildcat Sanctuary can no longer accommodate domestic Bengal cats into our program. We cannot keep up with the overwhelming number of calls we receive for hybrid surrender.   Our mission is to help wild cats in need and we will accommodate F1 hybrids only if there is room at our Sanctuary.

Domestic Bengal Cat Policy

Imagine receiving more than 20 calls every month from owners begging you to take in their little Bengal cat.  Their cat’s become too much to handle or he/she urinates throughout the house.  How would you feel when time and time again, you had to say “no” – you had to explain the reality of the situation?   This is what we deal with on a regular basis at The Wildcat Sanctuary.

The breeders don’t have to answer these calls, though they’ve caused the problem.  But we, and countless other shelters, have to.  This is why we advocate No More Wild Pets as an important part of our mission and we want to end hybrid breeding. 

Our mission is to rescue wild cats; i.e. lions, tigers, leopards, cougars, etc.  We can barely keep up with the demand of big cats that need sanctuary.  Now, the calls for Bengal cat rescues have become overwhelming and therefore, we can no longer accept Bengal cats for placement at the Sanctuary.

What’s life like with a hybrid cat like a Bengal?

bengal groupThere are millions and millions of perfectly wonderful domestic cats at shelters waiting to be adopted, so it’s frustrating to find people opting to pay thousands and thousands of dollars for exotic hybrids like Bengal cats.  Why do this?

These cats end up behaving just as they’re genetically programmed to – “wild!” Owners are led to believe they’ll bring these little wild ones home, give them a litter box and they’ll live peacefully with others in their homes.  That’s not the case at all, as you’ll see when you read all the information we have below about hybrid cat species.

How to create a home for your hybrid cat

So many of these desperate callers love the setups we have for our hybrids and Bengals here at the Sanctuary.  It’s easy to duplicate these in your backyard or attach to your garage for your Bengal cats.  

Your cat doesn’t need to be given away.  And, more importantly, they don’t need to be euthanized for behavior that was easily predictable.  You spent so much money to acquire them.  Don’t they deserve a bit more so they can enjoy life?

Giving up your Bengal cat is traumatic for you, your family, and for your cat. By investing a bit more time and money, you can give them a suitable environment that meets their needs, just like we do here at The Wildcat Sanctuary.

As the pictures show, ourhybrid haven bungalow hybrid cats live in temperature-controlled sheds/bungalows that we’ve adapted for their enjoyment.  You’ll see perches, beds, washable walls, litter boxes, and food inside the buildings and a cat door that allows them access to an outdoor area.  These outdoor areas are securely fenced, with a roof. 

Ramps, hanging toys, landscaping, water features, and hammocks allow the cats to fill their days with endless enjoyment.  Some of our volunteers’ favorite times are spent playing with the Bengals and hybrid cats.

The bottom line is, you made the decision to acquire something with a wild personality.  They’re active, vocal, mischievous, and they love water.  Why, then, give up your cat for the things that originally drew you to them? 

Please make the commitment to give them what they deserve – a safe, enjoyable home that meets their needs.

You won’t change their wildness, but you can learn to live with it and enjoy many years of happiness together.  You purchased a hybrid cat in hopes of a life-long companion.  Do the right thing now and provide them the life you promised, right in your own backyard.

How’s a domestic Bengal different from an F1 Bengal?

The Bengal cat breed resulted from cross breeding an Asian Leopard Cat (ALC-Felis bengalensis) with the domestic cat (Felis catus). The first three filial generations (F1 – F3) of these hybrid animals are referred to as the “foundation” generations. 

A Bengal cat with an ALC parent is called an F1 Bengal, short for first filial. They eat raw meat and will almost never use a litter box once they reach maturity. These hybrids are often prohibited and regulated by state, city and township laws such as in MN, IA, etc.
 
An F1 then bred with a domestic male produces an F2, or second filial. Kittens from an F2 female and another domestic cat are then termed F3. Kittens from a subsequent F3 mating with a domestic are F4s. The F4 and later generations are considered domestic cats, but still have many behavioral and health issues due to the hybridization.
 

Can breeders control wild tendencies through breeding?

Breeders market hybrid cats as ‘lap leopards’ and say they have the look of the wild and personality of the domestic. However, genetics do NOT work this way. Breeders cannot choose which elements you get of the wild or domestic cat.
 
The Wildcat Sanctuary receives more calls from owners wanting to surrender Bengal domestic cats than all other wildcats and hybrids combined. The most common reason is not using the litter box, especially when housed with other animals.
 
We love the Bengals and hybrids we care for and we accept the soiling and behavioral problems that most people deem inappropriate pet behavior.
 
Other common hybrid cats that are being surrendered at an alarming rate are:
 
  • Bengals (Asian Leopard Cat – Domestic Cat)
  • Savannahs (Serval – Domestic Cat)
  • Chausies (Jungle cat – Domestic Cat)
  • Safari (Geoffroy’s cat – Domestic Cat)

Hybrid health issues

Hybrids, whether early generation or domestic, often have the following common health issues, which can be expensive and leave the owner feeling helpless:

  • Painful irritable bowel disease (IBD) that causes chronic diarrhea
  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Tri-Trichamonas Foetus
  • Luxating patella
  • Often high corona titers and the only known test for FIP – Feline Infectious Peritonitis (but not always reliable)
  • Gingivitis and mouth lesions (most common in Chausie’s)

Our Bengals and hybrids at the Sanctuary accumulate our highest veterinary costs because of these common health issues. They also take the most time for our keepers due to the clean-up of their indoor areas due to spraying and soiling.

Adopting a hybrid cat

The Wildcat Sanctuary is against hybridization, but we understand Bengal domestic cats are legal in most states and many are displaced and in need of a home. 

We recommend any prospective owner adopt from a rescue group as well as research breed information from sanctuaries and many other resources versus just breeder sites. Adopting a Bengal from a rescue group will be valuable since the social and litter box behaviors have already been assessed.

If you choose to bring a Bengal cat into your family, you must be committed to the breed and the behavior of the breed. Even the small handful of Bengals that don’t have litter box issues are active, vocal, love to play in water and mischievous. It takes a unique owner, willing to provide a lifetime of care to an animal that will run the household.

TWS does not agree with any purchase or adoption of hybrid generations (F1-F3s) given the wild nature, behavior and health issues associated with these cats.

Domestication happens over 4,000 years. Not just with a few generations of breeding hybrids.

Wildcats are solitary by nature except for the African lion. At maturity, they lose all alliance to their wild parents in order to survive. They’ll even challenge parents and siblings for territory and dominance.

This also happens in captivity. Once the wild or hybrid cat reaches maturity it will ‘turn’ on its owner or other animals it lives with. It will want to mark territory by spraying and urinating, even if it’s neutered or spayed.

Read dozens and dozens of firsthand stories we’ve received from hybrid owners.

What if I need to surrender a Bengal or hybrid cat?

The Wildcat Sanctuary is a sanctuary for wild and hybrid cats. Due to the overwhelming number of calls we receive, we can no longer accommodate domestic Bengals. Only F1 foundation cats will be considered for permanent sanctuary. 

Domestic shelters will not accept hybrids into their programs and most wildcat sanctuaries do not accept hybrids either. This leaves little alternative for these cats. 

If you plan on contacting TWS regarding surrendering a cat, please review the following information. All requests will be considered on a case by case basis.

  • Owner will pay for transport costs to TWS
  • Health certificate within 10 days of transport is needed
  • The cat must be spayed/neutered at the cost of the owner
  • Blood profile including a corona titer must be performed
  • Surrender form must be completed and signed
  • Annual sponsorship or intake fee will be requested

What other options do I have?

When TWS takes in rescues, the animal’s behavior and habits do not change. If the cat urinated in your house, he/she will continue to do so at TWS. The difference is we are committed to providing life time care for the animal and adjust the environment around them.

If you have purchased a Bengal or hybrid cat and own it legally, you should do the same. The best thing is for you to provide a fully-enclosed, outdoor area with access to a heated den like a garage or insulated shed

Yes, this may cost a few thousand dollars, but it is amazing that owners pay upwards of $4,000-$8,000 for these cats but won’t put that into the cost of caring for the animal nor provide the same amount of funding for a sanctuary to care for the cat.

Euthanasia should not be an option for a behavior that is common to the breed and easily researched. For example take the Siberian husky. When a person adopts a Siberian husky they shouldn’t be surprised that the dog barks, jumps fences, digs and runs away off leash when this is typical breed behavior. There are exceptions to the rule, but anyone adopting this breed should expect and be prepared for the typical behavior.

Other hybrid owners have tried to resell the cat to recoup costs. Buyers should beware that if someone is trying to sell a cat, it is probably unwanted due to soiling or behavioral problems that they’re not disclosing. This only means the problems will get worse with you.

Remember, there are millions of wonderful domestic dogs and cats in shelters that are waiting to become a life long companion to you. You can save a life by adopting one of these.

You will be much happier that you kept the wild in your heart, not your home, because the idea of owning a wildcat or hybrid is much more glamorous than the reality.

Breeding hybrids – the dark side

If you’re familiar with all the controversy surrounding puppy/kitten mills, you won’t be surprised to learn those same issues are linked with the breeding of hybrids, too.  The following is a snapshot of the dark side of hybrid breeding:

Breeding issues

During the breeding process, domestic cats forced to breed with wild cats can often be killed.  Many pregnancies are aborted or absorbed by the mother cat’s body when nature determines there is something wrong. 

Kittens are often born prematurely due to the variance of gestation periods between the wild cats and domestic cats that have been interbred.  Many of the first generation are sterile, especially the males.  In some cases, breeders may kill kittens born with an undesirable appearance, or just drop them off at a shelter.

Breeding Conditions

Quite like the controversial issues faced with puppy mills, hybrid cats used for breeding can face the same poor quality of life.  Forced to live in a cage the majority of their lives, they are not socialized.  Read one case HERE. 

The cats can suffer from illnesses and live in filthy conditions that are rarely detected since they’re not the subject of inspections.

Breeding for Profit

There is no doubt that breeding a hybrid cat that will bring in thousands of dollars tends to naturally attract many whose sole motive is profit.  Why breed a “normal” domestic purebred cat that may fetch only $200 when you can breed a hybrid cat that can bring in as much as $22,000?  

This quest for high profits leads many breeders to house too many cats under poor conditions and leads to poor genetics as more and more are interbred.

Permits or Bans

Thankfully, many municipalities have been educated about the danger of having hybrid cats in their communities. When complete bans aren’t in place, many towns are requiring special permits in order to own these exotic cats.

Servals, for instance, are extremely efficient hunters and killers in Africa.  Raising them in captivity in the US and cross breeding them doesn’t change this innate characteristic.  This is why many areas see them as a threat or concern for the community and why they want to know where they live and who owns them.

The Wild Side

You can NOT breed the “wild” behaviors out of servals, Asian leopard cats, jungle cats, or Geoffrey’s cats by interbreeding them with domestic cats for a couple of generations. When a buyer spends thousands of dollars for a wild looking cat, they get exactly what they’re paying for – a cat with wild tendencies!

Hybrid cats are known for being extremely destructive.  Common complaints are of ruined furniture, clothing, and personal items.  A hybrid marking territory is instinctive, whether it’s a male or female, and most owners are unprepared for the reality of living with the smell of the wild constantly surrounding them.  

Hybrids don’t always get along with other pets and have been known to hunt them down, even causing injury to neighborhood cats and dogs.  The elderly and small children are seen as weak and vulnerable to attack, just as any prey in the wild would be to these cats.

When frustration overcomes the owners, all too often, they look for an easy way out.  They’ll have the cats euthanized when they can’t find a rescue or shelter to take them in.  Some have been known to simply set them loose, forcing them to survive on their own.  It’s a sad, cruel fate for these cats – through no fault of their own.

Health Concerns

Finding a veterinarian to care for an exotic animal is not easy and, when you do, it’s expensive!  

Hybrid cats have health concerns that aren’t normal to domestic cats, including respiratory issues, irritable bowel disorder, and other digestive issues. Vaccinations have not been approved for hybrid animals since it’s not known if regular vaccines will protect them.  Many medications don’t work on these wild cats either.

Pet Overpopulation

With estimates of over 4 million pets being killed each year in shelters, there is no need to breed hybrid cats.  These cats rarely work out as pets.  It simply adds to the overpopulation issue in all shelters.  If there is a home available for a pet, it should be for an appropriate domestic pet – not a wild animal. 

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