The author has partnered with a retired vet to write about pet health and enjoys researching and sharing tips for pet owners.
Exotic Cats: Pets or Problems?
What are the different types of exotic cats? Most experts would list non-endangered small cats, hybrids, endangered small cats, and big cats. Here we examine four exotic feline hybrids that are registered and recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA).
TICA recognizes two exotic cat breeds as advanced new breeds (ANB): Chausie cats and Savannah cats. Let’s discover the origins, characteristics, and fun facts about these breeds and find out why owning these exotic cats as pets can be satisfying.
4 Exotic Cat Breeds That Make Great Pets
Chausie cats trace their roots to ancient Egypt, and their resemblance to the cats depicted in Egyptian art as well as to their jungle cat ancestors is unmistakable.
The original cats developed from natural mating between Felis lybica (the ancestor of domestic cats) with Felis chaus (jungle cats). In 1990, a concerted effort to develop a new breed using Felis chaus as breeding stock led to the Chausie cats of today, which are a hybrid mix of Abyssinian cats and domestic shorthair cats. The breed was recognized in 2003 as an Advanced New Breed (ANB) by TICA.
What’s to like about this feline? They are intelligent, energetic, and intensely loyal.
On the downside, they are master thieves and can be as annoying as small children with demands for one-on-one attention.
Standard coat colors are brown ticked tabby, solid black, and black grizzled tabby. Chausie cats with grizzled coats are a rare treasure as there is no other cat in the world with these distinctive markings.
Savannahs are hybrids (man-made cats), resulting from breeding domestic cats with the African Serval, and the breed was recognized by TICA in 2001.
They are long-lived (about 15 years on average) and are popular for their extreme loyalty and are said to resemble dogs in this aspect. Savannahs have strong musculature, shorter front legs, and an elongated lean body and tail. Anecdotally, they are reputed to be hypoallergenic and thus good pets for those with allergies, but there is no scientific evidence for that claim.
Extremely intelligent, they can be leash trained and taught simple tricks. As a breed, they are active, attention seekers, high jumpers, sociable, and water loving, so keep the shower door closed if you don't want company!
Savannahs blend into families with children or other dogs quite nicely; however, keep in mind that as a breed, they are dominant animals. If you own other cats, you may want to consider a different breed of exotic cats as Savannahs do best in households with dogs rather than cats.
Read More From Pethelpful
TICA-accepted coat colors are brown spotted tabby, silver spotted tabby, black, and black smoke.
Next, let’s take a look at two interesting preliminary new exotic breeds listed with TICA: the Donskoy and the Minskin.
The Donskoy originated in Russia, and Elena Kovaleva is credited with finding the foundational cat.
This breed is also known as the Don Sphynx or the Don Hairless, but it is a naturally occurring hybrid and is not a result of cross-breeding with Sphynx cats.
It was recognized by the World Cat Federation (WCF) in 1997 and by TICA in 2005.
These rare cats are typically hairless by reason of genetics, although some are designated as brush coats and lose patches of fur versus becoming entirely hairless. They are intelligent, active, good family cats, and socialize well with other pets.
Their wrinkly coats and other-world appearance are guaranteed conversation starters for those that are unfamiliar with the breed. The standard coats are rubber bald, flocked, velour, and brush.
Minskins are diminutive dwarf cats with extremely short body fur, hairless tummies, and fur points on their extremities (like the Siamese’s color points.) The foundational cats for this hybrid are the Munchkin, Sphynx, Devon Rex, and Burmese.
The breed developer is Paul McSorley, and they are incredibly rare; as of 2005; there were only 50 in existence.
The Minskin loves everyone: kids, other pets, and people. Their sweet temperature combined with an eternal kitten-face earns them the nickname “Hobbit” cat.
In addition to unusual coats, a distinguishing feature is their short legs. While they can jump, it takes them several leaps and some intermediary boosts to reach the same point another cat could reach in a single jump. All coat colors are accepted by TICA.
Taking Care of Exotic Cats
If you are tempted to run out and purchase one of these exotic cats, think through the decision. Acquiring any pet requires a time and expense commitment.
Exotic feline hybrids must be kept indoors or taken outdoors on leashes because they still have some wild instincts and may run away. If they become ill, finding a qualified veterinarian may be difficult or expensive.
Should you be unable to keep them, finding a suitable home may be problematic. If, however, you have considered the cost and are willing to make a lifetime commitment, any of these exotic felines would make a fine family pet.
Cat Health Tutorials and Resources
- Maine Coon Cats: Health Problems Owners Must Know About
Maine coon cats are at higher risk for diseases such as hypertropic cardimyopathy, hip dysplasia, and polycystic kidney disease. Find out how to protect your pet.
- Feline Stomatitis: Better Diet and Nutrition as Treatments for Stomatitis
With immediate intervention and proper nutrition and diet, your cat can recover from feline stomatitis. Here's what you need to know.
References and Resource Materials
- Messy Beast, “Short-legged Cats,” Sarah Harwell, 2005-2008
- TICA, “Minskin,” http://www.tica.org/public/breeds/ms/intro.php?zoom_highlight=minskin
- TICA, "Donskoy," http://www.tica.org/public/breeds/dh/intro.php?zoom_highlight=donskoy
- "The World's Tallest Cat Breaks Her Own Record," Cat Channel, http://www.catchannel.com/news/2010/09/20/worlds-tallest-cat.aspx
Share Your Opinion
Which of these four exotic cats do you think would make the best pet for you?
Would you consider owning an exotic pet, or would the costs and other potential problems scare you off?
Please take a minute to leave me a note in the comment section and share your opinion on the subject of exotic cats as pets.
© 2011 Donna Cosmato
Which of These Exotic Cats Do You Prefer?
sara on December 27, 2013:
Im getting an F4 savannah cat in a few years!
Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on December 31, 2011:
Thanks for the compliment, LadyLyell! Just like you, I'm learning more and more about cats and other pets daily. It's an enjoyable subject, which makes doing the research a pleasure:)
Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on December 30, 2011:
Hi mljdgulley354 and thanks for sharing your opinion! It's funny but I didn't realize how much the Donskoy's ears did look like a donkey's ears until you pointed it out:) All these kitties are really adorable and it was so much fun learning more about them that writing this hub seemed more like play than work. I'm glad you liked it!
Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on December 30, 2011:
Thank you for the overwhelmingly positive response to the hub on exotic cats, pmccray! They are all so graceful and appealing, it is hard to pick one, is it not?
LadyLyell from George, South Africa on December 30, 2011:
What a vast knowledge you have of cats and as I have little to none I can learn much by following your articles.
Happy new year!
mljdgulley354 on December 30, 2011:
Beautiful pictures of cats. I think the ears on the Donskoy make its name apparent, it has donkey ears.
pmccray on December 30, 2011:
I'm a cat parent therefore already prejudiced. Really like the Savannah Cats. I'm thinking that will be the next breed I choose. Excellent hub. Thank you for sharing, voted up, marked useful, interesting and book marked.