6 Cat Breeds With Wild Roots
Throughout history, people have tried to bring wild cats like Servals, Caracals, and even lions and tigers into their home. And while it perhaps goes without saying, we'll say it anyway: Attempting to domestic an animal that’s meant to be wild can have some pretty serious consequences. Still, over time, breeders have managed to bring together the wild and domestic in these distinct breeds.
A cross between a house cat and an African Serval, Savannahs are typically tall and lean with distinct dark spots and pointed ears. And as far as their personality goes, they are often likened to dogs because they tend to be adventurous, affectionate, and highly curious. The first Savannah was born in 1986, and the breed is now recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA) as a championship breed, which means they are able to compete in TICA-sanctioned shows.
When cross-breeding a Serval and a house cat, the subsequent generations of a Savannah are referred to as F1, F2, F3, and so on. If you’re thinking about buying a Savannah, it’s important to see if your home state even allows them as pets, as some consider them too wild. You can check out the rules and regulations by heading to Hybrid Law.
A cross between a domestic cat and an Asian leopard cat (ALC), Bengals tend to be very curious, very active, and—when they finally settle down—loving. As far as their physical appearance, Bengals usually have short, soft coats with spots that are often likened to leopards.
The breed as we know it began with cat breeder Jean Mill, who crossed ALCs with domestic cats in 1963. They were accepted as a new breed in 1986 by the TICA and gained championship status in 1991.
A cross between domestic shorthairs and Bengals, Toygers are as close as you’ll get to having a real tiger basking in the sunlight of your home. According to TICA, breeders are still working on getting these felines' stripes just right. But for now, these pint-size tigers are known for loving quality time with their human counterparts, being laid back, and being very intelligent. Some people even train them to walk on a leash.
The Chausie is a result of hybrids of a Jungle Cats (Felis chaus) breeding with a domestic cats. While there have been cases of this happening for a long time, the first recorded instance was in 1990. These felines can grow to be 18 inches tall and can weigh up to 30 pounds. Chausies are highly intelligent, and because of that, this is not the cat for you if you plan to leave them alone for extended periods of time. According to TICA, this tall and long-bodied cat is high-energy, can be trained to walk on a leash, and loves to socialize with its humans.
The name "Cheetoh cat" probably brings up the image of a laid back cartoon cheetah hocking cheese puffs, but it's also a fairly new breed of house cat. According to the International Cheetoh Breeders Association, the Cheetoh is an attempt to create a breed that looks like a wild cat with the gentleness of a house cat. They’re a cross between Ocicats (which don't technically have wild roots, but instead get their name from their close resemblance to Ocelots) and Bengals.
These Cheetohs typically weigh between 15–23 pounds and come in a variety of colors, ranging from sienna with black and brown spots to white with gold spots. While they may look like cats you’d find stalking prey out in the jungle, Cheetohs are very friendly and bring together excellent traits from both breeds. While each one is unique, these cats tend to be energetic, intelligent, friendly, and like to stay busy.
The goal of breeding the Serengeti Cat is to produce a cat that resembles the wild Serval without having any actual Serval blood. The first Serengeti Cat was bred by Karen Sausman in the ’90s by crossing a Bengal and an Oriental Shorthair. However, its lineage does include the Asian leopard cat, whose genes contributed to its Bengal Cat ancestor.
Serengeti Cats have long ears and legs like a Serval, and a neck that does not taper where it meets the head. They are agile, active, and vocal. According to the TICA, these cats may take some time to warm up to you, but once they do, they’ll want to be with you all the time.
Before you go ahead and purchase one of these felines, it’s important to check to make your state allows them as pets. You should, of course, check with specific breed organizations before you select a breeder or adopt at an exotic cat show. But another great alternative is to check with your local shelter for a cat that desperately needs a home.