People are being warned about the problems that can arise if you buy a “diluted” big cat hybrid. Concerns have been raised after some crossbreed cats were found abandoned because owners cannot handle the animals’ natural instincts.
The warning was primarily directed at those looking to purchase a Savannah cat hybrid. There are now proposals to ban the sale of the species due to its unsuitability as a pet.
The Savannah hybrid cat is the product of breeding a serval cat. They are beautiful creatures and as adorable as any kitten when young, but as they grow they can turn against owners.
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Wildlife and big cat expert Frank Tunbridge, 74, from Podsmead, has studied all types of wild animals for decades. He says Savannah cats need to have extra provisions for house creatures. However, he warned that they can become unmanageable over time.
Mr Tunbridge said: “Another feral cat topic that has been in the news recently is the proposal that the sale, purchase and keeping of certain high-risk feral cat hybrids could be banned in this country. . This is due to their unsuitability as pets.
“This applies in particular to a hybrid called the Savannah Cat, the product of a serval which is a large African wild cat and a domestic cat. The breed is suddenly becoming popular as a pet, even though it is very expensive, with some going as high as £3,000 or more for a kitten.
“Of course breeders will benefit from this boom in popularity, even though they are very high maintenance and in most cases not suitable for a domestic home. They are unsuitable unless arrangements are made by an experienced handler.
“The F1 variant is a first cross between a wild Serval and a domestic cat. The animal can only be kept in this country with a wildlife license.
“Yet the dilute crosses continue and are referred to as F 2, 3.4, which are the initial cross offspring bred. These are exempt from needing a wildlife permit.
Mr. Tunbridge has heard of Savannah cats killing other animals in the house because of his wildcat instincts. As a result, they are abandoned and left to fend for themselves.
He said: “These very attractive cats are cute and cuddly like kittens, but due to the high feral content they often become unmanageable as adults. In some extreme cases, they have been known to attack and kill domestic animals, including smaller cats.
“It’s a shame because the high Serval Savannah cat, with its mixed fawn instincts, should not be confused with a fire tabby by the novice buyer. Many of these hybrids are abandoned when they become a liability through no fault of their own.
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“They adapt and survive in the wild, reverting to their wild side very quickly. Some reports of big cats over the past five years or so have been similar in description to big Savannahs.
“These sightings have been reported particularly around the outskirts of London. This is where many are believed to have been kept as pets and then abandoned and turned feral.
“As they say, ‘you can take the boy out of the bush, but you can’t take the bush out of the boy.’ Wild animals need wild places to be fully satisfied.
Anyone who has observed an exotic animal or big cat is asked to email Mr. Tunbridge confidentially to discuss what they have witnessed. He can be contacted at [email protected]
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