Hybrid cats are crossbreeds between a domestic house cat and a wild cat. Cat breeders aim to create a new breed of cat that looks like a wild cat, but has domestic tameness. Hybrid cats can be remarkably intelligent, athletic, and sometimes unpredictable.
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History of hybrid cats
The first creation of hybrid cats was part of scientific research in the 1960s. This study aimed to know if the wild cats’ resistance to diseases such as Feline Leukemia could be inherited by the hybrid offspring.
The researchers bred Domestic Shorthair cats (Felis catus) with the Asian Leopard cats (Prionailurus bengalensis). Asian Leopard Cats are a medium-sized wild cat native to regions such as South, East, and South-East Asia.
The crossbreed of a Domestic cat with an Asian Leopard cat resulted in the Bengal cat breed. This new cat breed has a fascinating appearance. Bengal cats have the looks of a wild cat and the personality of a domestic cat. However, their wild instincts show up occasionally, which is typical for hybrid cats because their genes will always have a wild cat genes mixed in.
As this new hybrid cat gained popularity because of its exotic look, cat breeders also became interested in engineering new hybrid cats and came up with breeds such as the Chausie, which is part jungle cat, and the Savannah, which is part Serval.
Hybrid cats are also bred because of coat colors and patterns. These cats often appear as a miniature version of their wild counterparts. Hybrids can be very interesting when it comes to their looks and temperament, which is why many people keep them as pets.
However, while hybrid cats have become more popular to the public and usually look pretty cool, there are several issues surrounding them.
Behavioral issues of hybrid cats
Crossbreeding domestic cats with wild cats such as Asian Leopard cats or Servals for 1 to 3 (F1, F2, and F3) generations does not create a domestic hybrid cat. This is because hybrid cats are still genetically wild in nature. Only the 4th generation (F4), or later generations of these hybrids are considered domestic by the TICA (The International Cat Association).
These felines are generally cats with exotic looks who have domestic cat temperaments mixed with wild cat tendencies.
There are two major behavioral complaints from pet owners with regards to having a hybrid cat for a pet. The issues are with the hybrid cat’s litter box and their aggressive tendencies.
Many hybrid cats are kept in outdoor shelters or big cat sanctuaries because of these concerns.
Litter box issues
One of the main behavioral issues in hybrid cats is their way of marking their territory. In nature, wild cats usually label their domain by leaving scent-markers through urinating, spraying, or marking spots with their feces. Feral cats also mark their territory by scratching on objects like trees and rocks.
Hybrid cats often have their wild cat ancestors’ habits when it comes to marking their territory. Domestic hybrid cats tend to urinate outside their litter box and urinate along the boundaries of the room as a mark of their territory. Scratching on objects is also an inherent behavior of the hybrid cats. They may scratch on things such as your couch, bed, and clothes, destroying your property.
Generally speaking, hybrid cats may have aggressive tendencies. This can be traced back to their wild ancestors. Wild cats, like lions, leopards, and servals are natural solitary by nature. Hybrids may have difficulty socializing with other people or house pets and sometimes may act unpredictably wild.
This behavior can include attacking household members if approached for petting, or injuring other animals under the same roof. If allowed outdoors, they may tend to be aggressive towards other animals like other cats and even dogs around your neighborhood.
There are also adverse effects caused by this unnatural breeding on the hybrid cats’ health. The thing is that the cat parents of the hybrid cats were never meant to mate in the first place. When something wrong happens in the breeding process, breeders can end up with premature births or failed pregnancies.
The hybrid cat’s most common illnesses are related to their digestive system. This includes IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease), an irritably painful bowel disease, and the Tritrichomonas foetus, a parasite that causes intestinal infection. These medical issues can lead to chronic diarrhea that can be both hard and discouraging for both the owner and veterenarians to treat.
Another health issue common in some hybrid cat breeds is HCM (Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy), which is the most common heart disease in felines. HCM causes the walls of the heart to thicken, which decreases the heart’s efficiency.
There is also a high risk of Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), which is caused by a virus called a feline coronavirus. It attacks the inside of the cat’s intestinal walls.
Another medical issue for hybrid cats is their wellness protection. The vaccines that the medical experts use for the normal domestic cats cannot always be applied to hybrids. Although experts say that these vaccines are safe for hybrid cats, the manufacturers cannot guarantee the immunization’s effectiveness due to lack of clinical trial on hybrids.
Common questions about hybrid cats
Are hybrid cats dangerous?
Hybrid cats are not dangerous, but they may show aggression when they feel threatened. These cats are very territorial, unpredictable, and intelligent. They inherited these traits from their wild cat ancestors. With proper training, hybrids can be less aggressive or dangerous.
What is the biggest hybrid cat?
The liger is the largest hybrid in the feline world. This hybrid is a result of crossbreeding a male lion with a tigress. They can grow larger than their parents and can reach up to 3.6 meters in length. However, this hybrid cat’s size and appearance may vary depending on what subspecies their parents belong to.
Is there a natural hybrid cat?
There is no natural hybrid cat. Hybrids cannot be produced naturally by a wild cat breed and another cat breed. There will be a need for human intervention for a hybrid to be created. There are no documented natural hybrid cats in places like India, where lions and tigers overlap. These two different cat breeds are not interested in mating with each other.
Hybrid cats are the results of the unnatural breeding of wild cats with domesticated ones. This type of breeding leads to new cat breeds that result in notable cat features and some health issues. Having a hybrid cat as a pet requires extra space, extra care, and more patience. These cats are undeniably fascinating with their appearance, but are unpredictable when it comes to their behavior.