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If you are a pet lover, like me, you probably have picked up the words exotic cats via social media or even when your friends are conversing. And given the trend of these fur babies, you may have been tempted to consider having one as a companion at home or just learn about them. Otherwise, you would not be here, right? You are right where you should be, and you will find this article today interesting, informative, and engaging.

But before that, what are exotic pets?

The term an exotic pet is a word used to describe pets that are somewhat unusual to find or keep, like the Fennec fox, for example. These bizarre animals are sometimes considered more of wild animals than pets due to their physical forms and personalities (maybe). But as you and I have witnessed, their highly praised role in the animal fancy realm is changing that viewpoint. Exotic animals have lots of benefits such as low upkeep costs, longer lifespan, need for small spaces, a magical look, and being mostly hypoallergenic. Sounds enticing, right?

Before nodding your head in excitement, however, it is worth mentioning that most exotic pets present severe human health risks. According to Born Free USA, most of these exotic pets are known to be carriers of zoonotic maladies like salmonellosis, Herpes B, and monkeypox. All of these diseases are contagious to humans which clarifies why some states prohibit buying and owning exotic pets. I just wanted to make sure that you understand the risks associated with keeping an exotic pet in your home before buying one. None of this is meant to scare you away from adopting or buying one.

In my article today, I will be answering all the questions you might have on exotic cats. By the end of this review, you will be able to decide whether to or not keep and will also include their biopics and images for better illustrations.

Can you own an exotic cat?

A simple answer to this question is yes, you are allowed to keep an exotic cat, but laws differ from one country to another or one state to another. While it is permissible in some, others have strict rules against it and with good intentions. In some places, owning an exotic cat will be forbidden due to the related risks to human health, or it is termed illegal. Others, however, may do this to conserve the wild and keep these felids safe where they belong.

Can you buy an exotic cat?

Though not encouraged, buying an exotic cat is not prohibited but as you would expect with any rare thing, they are extremely expensive. Before acquiring one, however, it is good that you become aware of the conditions that departments, like the US Department of Agriculture, need. Just so you know, you do not need a license or registration to keep an exotic animal, like a cat, for instance.

According to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), however, the USDA expects the breeder or dealer of any animals, exotic ones included, to obtain a license or be registered under the AWA. Before buying also, you must ensure that your locality and state allow for the ownership of exotic pets. Make sure that you are conversant with the zoning laws to ensure they encourage your decision. Are you thinking about owning an exotic cat or any other pet? You can find contact information to your state and local government regarding anything you want in this link here at the Federal Government’s official website portal.

When you decide to buy an exotic cat, I also encourage you to check out with your local/national humanitarian organizations for assistance on the proper care and handling of exotic cats. Make sure that you also have access to a vet with experience in taking care of exotic animals.

Even if possible, not all exotic cats are at your disposal for adoption but there are 10 exotic cat breeds that are legal to own where it is allowed. As mentioned earlier, owning an exotic cat is not legalized, and even where you can, there are certain limitations. And if you are asking yourself what the problem is with that, it all comes to one thing – most exotic cat breeds are nowhere close to taming.

But since I can see you are insisting on owning one, here is a list of the 10 exotic cats that you are allowed to have at home:

  1. Bobcats
  2. Fishing cats
  3. Savannah cats or serval cats
  4. Geoffrey’s cats
  5. Canadian Lynx
  6. Asian Leopard cats
  7. Siberian Lynx
  8. Ocelots
  9. Jungle cats
  10. Caracals

All these exotic cats are good to keep as pets in your home with great looks and features that make them exciting. In my opinion, however, these felids would rather be left to stay in the wild rather than being tamed as they like it in the jungle. Furthermore, it is a costly investment that will cost you thousands of dollars. Instead, I would recommend adopting a regular cat from a local shelter.

What states can you own exotic cats in?

There are six states in the United States that neither forbid nor control keeping big cats, like exotic breeds, in your home as pets. They include Wisconsin, Delaware, Alabama, Nevada, Oklahoma, and North Carolina.

Of the six states, four have no laws regarding keeping chancy wild animals in your home as pets, including Alabama, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Nevada. If you, therefore, live in any of these states, you will have no trouble with the law for owning an exotic cat as a pet.

Twenty-one (21) states in the US veto all dangerous exotic pets entirely, including cats. Thirty-five (35) states, however, prohibit keeping big cats as pets in your home with differences in pet exceptions, conditions, and levels of implementation. 

How much does an exotic cat cost?

The costs of buying an exotic cat are extremely expensive with a price range of $900 for a bobcat kitty to $7,500 for a tiger cub. If you are targeting middle-sized exotic cat breeds like Caracals and Servals, expect to spend between $1,700 and $2,800 for a kitten. And before you start to open your eyes wide, I wonder what you would say with Ocelots at $15,000 per kitty.

As you can see, the rarer the exotic cat you prefer, the higher the cost. There are celebrities who own exotic cats. Superstar Justin Bieber, for instance, bought 2 Savannah cats (a hybrid between a wild African serval and a domestic breed) at $35,000. Add the cost of maintenance that your exotic cat will require, and you might end up digging deeper into your pockets than you ever intended.

Which exotic cat makes the best pet?

Personally, I would recommend Servals as the most ideal exotic cats for a pet. Native to the African continent, servals are the most well-liked exotic cat breeds globally and their popularity among breeders skyrocketed at the end of the 1990s. However, the breed became registered under The International Cat Association or TICA in 2001. That explains why Bieber opted for the breed. And while they are legal to own in the US, not all states permit this such as Texas, Colorado, Nebraska, New York, Idaho, Vermont, and Georgia.

These medium-sized exotic cats feature an independent and quiet personalities and will often run away from average-sized individuals. In fact, servals have no record of being threatening or risky to human beings. Servals are common in sub-Saharan countries in Africa apart from the tropical rainforest regions and can also be found in the Sahel and North Africa, although rarely.

Servals stand 17 to 24 inches tall at the shoulders and measure 23 to 36 inches long with males being slightly larger than their female counterparts. Other than that, their body shape and color patterns are similar with long legs, small heads, long ears, an extra-long neck, and a short tail. You can buy a serval cat at $1,700 to $2,800. These exotic cats boast a speed of 50 mph (80 km/h), thanks to their long legs, and their diet is made up of birds, rodents, fish, reptiles, frogs, hyraxes, and insects.

What does an exotic cat look like?

The appearance of an exotic cat depends on the breed with distinct features notable in parts such as the legs, head, tail, neck, and coloring. There are pictures of several types of exotic cats to help you note the differences.

Check the images section below for pictures of different types of exotic cat breeds to help you see what makes them unique from your regular domesticated cats.

Exotic cat for adoption

As mentioned earlier, you do not need a license to own an exotic cat, but you must live in states that allow you to have the breed as a pet. Before you decide to adopt an exotic cat, however, there is something you should know. First, they are bigger than your normal pet cats and will definitely be stronger. As such, you will need to build a spacious room that accommodates their size with robust materials that prevent breakouts. And though not insanely large, it should be big enough to provide ample playroom for your furry friend.

If you are looking to adopt an exotic cat, you can check out these sites.

Exotic cat with long ears

Caracals and servals are some of the best examples of exotic cats that have long ears as one of their distinctive features. We talked about servals above, so what do we know about caracals? Like their furry friends, servals, caracals are medium in size and originate from Africa, as well as Central Asia and the Middle East. In addition, this exotic cat breed can also be found in arid regions of countries such as northwestern India as well as Pakistan.

Check out these images of a caracal and serval below:

serval cat
caracal cat

Did you know that a tamed caracal can live up to approximately 16 years and servals up to 20 years?

Exotic cat eye problems

Epiphora, or watery eyes, is the name given to the eye problems that exotic cats often suffer from. Usually, the discharge from your cat’s eyes will have a yellow or green color which shows that your felid has a bacterial infection. On the other hand, it can be a symptom of cat flu or an upper respiratory infection which accounts for more than 90% of eye problem cases. Cat flu infection is caused by feline herpesvirus or calicivirus infections.

Exotic cat eye discharge has a biological explanation behind it with some cat breeds being predisposed to watery eyes, especially with brachycephalic cats. For some felids, however, it is quite normal to have watery eyes, but this does not mean that you neglect to care for their eyes. Keeping the area around your felid’s eyes clean helps prevent eye stains from forming.

If you are wondering how to treat exotic cat eye problems, the most recommended approach is to visit a vet for diagnosis so she or he can determine the best cause of action. Also, make sure that your felid friend’s environment is nonviolent and free of distractions. Keep him or her engaged and entertained as well.

Exotic cat health problems

Like most cats, exotic cat breeds are prone to health problems that affect other cats including cancer, feline diabetes, heartworm, feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), rabies, and ringworms. Other diseases include feline leukemia virus (FelV), high-rise syndrome, worms, as well as upper respiratory infections.

Make sure that your felid friend has frequent vet visits after domestication to help prevent some of these diseases.

Exotic cat breeds list

The term exotic in this context denotes cat breeds that belong to the wild species or a crossbreed between a domesticated cat and a wild one. Here is my list of exotic cat breeds that are available globally with info about their origin and life expectancy:

  1. Abyssinian – Egypt, 14 to 15 years
  2. Bengal – US, 12 to 16 years
  3. Ocicat – US, 12 to 14 years
  4. Egyptian Mau – Egypt, 18 to 20 years
  5. Somali – Somalia, 12 to 16 years
  6. Bombay – US, 12 to 16 years
  7. Savannah – US, 17 to 20 years
  8. Toyger – US, 12 to 15 years
  9. Chausie – Egypt, 12 to 14 years
  10. Cheetoh – US, 12 to 14 years
  11. Sokoke – Kenya, 12 to 15 year
  12. Serengeti cat – US, 10 to 15 years
  13. Cornish Rex – UK, 11 to 15 years
  14. Japanese Bobtail – Japan, 9 to 15 years
  15. Havana Brown – England, 15 years

Of course, the list is endless for exotic cat breeds in the world. I just jotted down my favorite fifteen from the list. 

Exotic cat documentary

Fanatics for big and small exotic cats have made documentaries about these lovable animals with a focus on their life in the jungle and after domestication. If you are interested in this, you can watch this YouTube video here about the 14 rarest cat breeds in the world that feature exotic cats.

Exotic cat enclosures

The best choice should feature an ultimate design that offers ample space to accommodate their natural wild behaviors but prevent escape. Remember that most animals are escape artists and the last thing you want is a wild cat to break out and start roaming the streets.

So, if you are looking to adopt or buy an exotic cat, one of the things that you MUST consider investing in before bringing him or her home is a pen. Next, you should do your research and know whether your exotic cat breed is completely wild or a hybrid. Lastly, you can now consider its size. Small felids are considered to weigh below 20 pounds while medium and large felids weigh below 60 and over 60 pounds, respectively.

When you are choosing or building an enclosure for your felid, make sure that the housing offers adequate space to help prevent social stress. If you have noted, domesticated exotic cats can be shy and hate disturbance. Therefore, make sure there is a place to back away when they want to. In short, the enclosures should give your exotic cat a chance to interact with the environment and come up with husbandry programming to keep your felid active.

Exotic cat images

Check out these beautiful images of exotic cat breeds:

Chausie cat
Savannah cat
Cornish Rex cat
Egyptian Mau cat
Japanese bobtail cat
Bengal Cat
Havana brown cat

Exotic cat personality

Are you wondering what makes a cat exotic? In most cases, both domestic and wild cats have almost similar personalities, but this, again, depends on the breed. They are playful, intelligent, with some being quiet while others are loud, especially when feeling threatened. Exotic cats can also be very territorial and love interacting with nature. 

Typically, most exotic breeds are not the cuddling types due to their size but are not dangerous to humans, nonetheless. And because most of them are bigger than our domestic types, they cannot live in our houses. If you find the small exotic breeds, however, they are cuddly and affectionate. One thing you can be sure of is that most exotic cats can be reserved and aloof, but not cowards.

Exotic cat price

Exotic cats come with a price tag of a range between $900 to $15,000 depending on the rarity of the cat breed. When you compare that to the adoption cost of a regular cat at $50 to $100 and buying one at $300 to $1,000, also depending on the breed, you can see that they are extremely pricey to own. Not to mention the cost of maintaining a good and habitable lifestyle they require.

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