Hybrid Pets' Sanctuary Program

Cheetoh cat photoPets Niagara does not condone the hybridization of domestic cats.

Pets Niagara does not support any purchase or adoption of "foundation" and early hybrid generations (F1-F3) given the wild nature, behavior and health issues associated with these cats.

However, we accutely understand that Bengal and other hybrid domestic cats are legal in many areas but that they may be prohibited and/or regulated pursuant to provincial and municipal laws in other areas.

We are also extremely sensitive to the fact that many hybrid cats are displaced and in desperate need of a good and loving home. So, when all avenues have been attempted by the owner of a hybrid to live in a peaceful and loving companionship with their choice of pet but have failed, we will, depending on the availability of a suitable and experienced guardian foster, accept hybrid cats into our hybrid sanctuary program. At such time as our permanent sanctuary has been built, hybrids will be afforded their very own and very special premises within the property.

Most municipal shelters will not accept hybrid cats and have in place a policy to euthanize any hybrid that comes within its walls. That is not our policy! Our policy is to provide as safe, enriching and loving environment as is humanly possible for these very special cats.

It is frustrating for us to know that there are many people opting to pay thousands and thousands of dollars for exotic hybrids like Bengal, Savannah and Chausie cats when there are millions and millions of perfectly wonderful domestic cats at shelters waiting to be adopted.

Getting to know the Hybrid Cat

The following information will help you to understand and perhaps help you to work better with your hybrid as well as provide a short background to each of the main popular hybrid breeds, today.

We recommend any prospective hybrid owner adopt from a rescue group rather than seek out a hybrid breeder. We also recommend that any prospective hybrid owner research breed information from sanctuaries and many other resources other than simply the breeders' sites. Adopting any hybrid from a rescue group will be enormously valuable to you as the social behaviour, health and litter box issues will have already been assessed.

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

Hybrid cats that are being surrendered at an alarming rate are:

Hybrids whether early generation (F1-F3) or domestic (F4+) often have the following common health issues which can be expensive and leave the owner feeling overwhelmed:

  1. All hybrids are born with intestinal tracts that are shorter than most traditional domestic cats. The consequence of shorter intestinal tracts is that the ability to process plant-based foods, including cereals, vegetables, herbs and spices, is diminished. This inability can result in chronic digestive difficulties and food intolerance.

  2. Painful irritable bowel disease (IBD) that causes chronic diarrhea the symptoms of which include diarrhea, frequent passage of small amounts of feces and mucus, constipation, abdominal pain, vomiting, and abdominal bloating.

  3. Food allergies, particularly in Chausies, the symptoms of which are variable but often include persistent scratching, hair loss, dermatitis, discharge from eyes, diarrhea and vomiting.

  4. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.

  5. Progressive Retinal Atrophy.

  6. Tri-Trichamonas Foetus.

  7. Luxating patella.

  8. Often high corona titers and the only known test for FIP - Feline Infectious Peritonitis is not always reliable.

  9. Gingivitis and mouth lesions (most common in Chausie's).

Hybrids accumulate high veterinary costs because of the above common health issues. They also take the most time for their guardians due to the clean-up of their indoor areas because of the spraying and soiling.

Domestication occurs across thousands of years, not within a few generations as is that being expected of hybrid cats. Wildcats, except for the African lion, are solitary by nature. At maturity, wildcats lose all alliance to their wild parents in order to survive. They will even challenge parents and siblings for territory and dominance. This also happens in captivity where once the wild or hybrid cat reaches maturity it may 'turn' on its owner or other animals it lives with. It will want to mark territory by spraying and urinating, even if it is neutered or spayed.

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 is very seldom the case.

Helping your Hybrid to Live Happy at Your Home

Surrendering your Bengal, Savannah or Chausie cat is a traumatic experience for you, your family, and for your cat. By investing a bit more time and money, you can provide them with a adaptive suitable environment that meets their needs, just like we would do here.

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 effort, time and love so that they can enjoy the rest of their natural life?

Hybrid cats must live in temperature controlled environments in our region. Those environments have to be adapted for their enjoyment and can be any area inside of your home that is set aside specifically for your cat. Perches, beds, washable walls, litter boxes, and food inside the living area and a cat door that allows them access to a secure outdoor area are a good start to offering your special cat a suitable environment.

Outdoor areas must be securely fenced, complete with a roof. Ramps, hanging toys, landscaping with trees or other climbing structures, grass and cat friendly plants, boulders, water features, and hammocks allow the cats to fill their days with endless enjoyment outdoors while the weather remains favourable. These outdoor areas are easy to duplicate in your backyard or attach to your garage. There should also be a fully fenced run from their living area to the outdoor area if it is not directly attached to the house at the point of exit.

The bottom line is that 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.

The most common reason hybrid owners are anxious to surrender their pet is because the pet will not use the litter box. This trait comes to the forefront particularly when a hybrid is housed with any other animal.

Just as with any cat, we love Bengals and all the other hybrids, but we accept the soiling and behavioral problems that most people deem inappropriate pet behavior and would individually never seek to purchase one from a breeder.

The Bengal

Chausie cat photoThe Bengal breed began with geneticist Jean Sugden-Mills, who crossed an Asian Leopard Cat (Felis bengalensis) with the domestic cat (Felis catus) in 1963. The first three filial generations (F1 - F3) of these hybrid animals are referred to as the "foundation" generations. A Bengal cat with an Asian Leopard Cat parent is called an F1 Bengal, the F1 designation being an abbreviated note for "first filial".

They eat raw meat and will almost never use a litter box once they reach maturity.

An F1 then bred with a domestic male cat 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 cat are F4s and so on down the generations.

The F4 and later generations are considered domestic cats but still have many behavioral and health issues due to the hybridization. Breeders market these 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 Savannah

Savannah cat photoSavannah cats are a hybrid breed created by breeding an African Serval (Leptailurus serval) to a domestic cat.

Early generation cats, F1 through F3, are generally more challenging for the average cat owner as they display more of the wild behaviors of the serval. Male Savannahs are usually sterile in the first few generations.

Common with many hybrid cats, Savannahs only bond with one individual and are extremely shy and scared of everyone else. At maturity it is not unusual for these cats to start soiling their environment.

Savannahs are intelligent and curious and are recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA) as a championship breed.

The Chausie

Chausie cat photoThe Chausie was developed into a domestic breed of cat originating from a non-domestic species of cat called the Jungle Cat. Jungle Cats were bred with domestic cats and the offspring were interbred with one another and by the fourth generation of offspring, the Jungle Cat-domestic cat hybrids had become a unique and district breed, the Chausie. The males of the first few generations are usually infertile.

The Chausie is recognized by the International Cat Association (TICA) as a non-domestic hybrid source breed. It shares this distinction with other breeds including the Bengal and the Savannah. It is called the "Chausie", named after the scientific name of the wild Jungle Cat, Felis chaus.

Chausies are bred to be a fairly large, medium boned breed with males typically weighing 15-25 pounds and females weighing 12-18 pounds. These cats can grown up to 3 feet in length and weigh in at up to 35 pounds. They require a great deal of exercise and their nutritional needs are difficult to meet.

They must be given ample space to run and play in order to maintain optimal physical and mental health. Being very social by nature, Chausies develop very strong bonds with their owners, following them from room-to-room and never straying far. Chausies require both physical and mental stimulation to be happy, and owners must find games and activities that challenge their cat's body and mind. Games that require problem solving and puzzles are a must for any Chausie and owners should endeavor to vary the games and activities provided.

Due to their social needs and intelligence Chausies are not happy to be left alone for long periods of time. They will quickly become bored if left alone and may become destructive or depressed.

The Chausie requires a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise on a daily basis. Keeping the Chausie's exercise needs met entails a variety of interactive games, toys, and ideally some time spent outdoors. Unlike many breeds that are best suited to indoor-only living, the Chausie is happiest when allowed to spend a significant amount of time outdoors. These areas should include climbing structures, elevated walkways, and the addition of cat-safe herbs, like catnip, all of which greatly increase the Chausie's quality of life.

The nutritional needs of a Chausie are slightly more complex than those of most domestic cats and care must be taken when considering appropriate foods to ensure the Chausie maintains optimal health and prevent illness. Most Chausie owners and breeders find that their cats accept superior-quality commercial foods that contain no or minimal plant-derived ingredients, such as Evo.

Like the Savannah, Chausie's are recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA) as a championship breed and the F4 and F5 cats are considered truly domestic and suitable for cat shows.

The Toyger

Toyger cat photo

Los Angeles cat breeder Judy Sugden began in the late 1980s to breed a house cat that resembled a tiger. The result was the Toyger, a registered breed that has a lineage beginning with domestic shorthairs and Bengals selected for their markings. Toygers are now available from breeders all over the world. The breed is still in development. However, like the Savannah, Toyger's are recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA) as a championship breed.

The Cheetoh

This cat is a fairly new breed of house cat. According to the International Cheetoh Breeders' Association, the Cheetoh is an attempt to breed a cat that looks more like a wild cat than other breeds but is still a gentle house pet. See the photo at the top of this page.

Carol Drymon bred the first Cheetoh in 2001 by crossing a wild-heritaged Bengal and a fully domestic Ocicat. A Cheetoh is a vary large cat, with healthy males reaching 23 pounds. Such a large cat with leopard-like spots may scare strangers, but the Cheetoh Breeders' Association claims that the Cheetoh is quite tame and as safe around children as any other house cat. The International Cat Association (TICA) considers the Cheetoh an experimental breed, at this time.

The Serengeti

Serengeti cat photoApparently the goal of breeding the Serengeti Cat was to produce a cat that resembled a wild Serval but does not contain any Serval bloodline.

The first Serengeti Cat was bred by Karen Sausman in 1994 and resulted from a cross between a wild-heritaged Bengal and a fully domestic Oriental Shorthair. This "foundation cat" and its progeny have been bred with many other types of domestic cats to improve the breed. Serengeti cats have long ears and long legs like a Serval, and a neck that does not taper where it meets the head. They are agile, active, and vocal. The International Cat Association (TICA) classifies this cat as an advanced new breed.

The Pixiebob

Pixiebob cat photoThe Pixiebob breed began as a result of natural mating. Carol Ann Brewer observed bob-tailed cats in the Cascade Mountains of Washington state. She adopted one of these cats in 1985 and then mated it with a neighbor's cat. She obtained more local cats that resembled bobcats and were thought to be the result of natural matings between bobcats and domestic cats. However, very clearly no proof exists for this claim.

Pixiebobs are tall cats with back legs slightly longer than the front legs. They have thick double coats that may be short or long. Breed standards allow for up to seven toes in a Pixiebob, the only championship breed allowing for polydactly. Pixiebobs gained championship status with the The International Cat Association (TICA) in 1998. Although Pixiebobs are often stone-faced like a wild cat, they are loyal and a claim is made that they make good pets.

How you can Help

Regular monthly gifts provide a consistent, reliable income stream that allows us to spend less time fundraising - and more time saving lives. Becoming a sponsor of a sanctuary pet is an easy and efficient way to fight pet neglect and homelessness and make a difference for the many unwanted and unloved pets that we see all year long. Please help us continue to be a voice for these sad and broken spirits. They truly give us a chance to be a part of witnessing miracles of healing of mind, body and spirit. We can only accomplish this with your support.

Thank you for taking time to care for animals in need. If we all work together, we can strive toward "Saving Them All".

To read the photo attributions attached to the photos of the Bengal, Toyger and Pixiebob simply right click on the photo, choose copy, open a word processing or photo editing program on your computer and paste the photo into a new file. Click on the photo to activate editing points and drag the corner to enlarge the photo large enough to clearly read the attribution or use resize to enlarge the photo. Alternatively, you can save the picture to your computer and to open it. All other photos used on this page are in the public doman and licensed for use under various Creative Commons Share-and-Share Alike licenses.

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