Hybrid Cats

bengal cat

Hybrid cats can be divided into three categories, entirely domestic cat hybrids, wild cat hybrids and wild cat/domestic cat hybrids:

  1. Definition of “Hybrid”
  2. Species versus Breed
  3. Hybrid Vigor
  4. Entirely Domestic Cat Hybrids
  5. Entirely Wild Cat Hybrids
  6. Wild Cat/Domestic Cat Hybrids

Definition of “Hybrid”

Here are various definitions of this word:

  • composite, mixture
  • The offspring of parents that have different genetically determined traits.
  • The offspring of genetically dissimilar parents.

I explore these definitions more in the sections below.

Species versus Breed

This page on hybrid cats deals with species of cats (wild cats) and breeds of cats (domestic cats). A species of cat is one that has been categorised by people (scientists) for the sake of order, science and study. The process of classification is called taxonomy. To a certain extent it is evolving due to differences of opinion and the rise in genetic analysis (whereas in the past it was based on form and anatomy etc.). There are 36 species of wild cat although this figure is not set in cement (at Jan 2010). All breeds of cat are from the same species of wildcat: the domesticated wild cat. In this instance the term “wild cat” refers to a species of wild cat, which is somewhat confusing. Wild cat can also be spelled “wildcat”.

Hybrid Vigor

The scientific name is heterosis. It is recognised that when two different species or breeds are crossed the offspring can be larger and/or stronger. This is perhaps nature’s way of approving the process as it creates a cat with a greater variety of genes, which at a crude level will be a more healthy animal, at least potentially. The converse is inbreeding depression. The word “depression” in this context does not describe the mental process of being very sad but a depressed or weakened immune system and a predisposition to illhealth. Increased homozygosity through breeding for appearance can result in ill health and distorted appearance (see Deformed Cats). Wild cats are also forced to inbreed jeopardising survival. The classic wild cat example is the Siberian tiger. Captive tigers are not uncommonly inbred.

Entirely Domestic Cat Hybrids

This refers to the mating of a cat of one breed with a cat of another breed to create a new breed. Sometimes three or more different breeds may be involved (Ocicat). It could be argued that random breed cats (moggies) are the ultimate expression of the domestic cat hybrid. If different cat breeds mate indefinitely you get the moggie.

Cat breeders have naturally sought to create new cat breeds. Hybrid cats is an obvious route. Sometimes this is done by taking two well known cat breeds and producing a new one. An example would be the Exotic Shorthair (shorthaired Persian). Sometimes the parents of the hybrid are not well known and neither, therefore, is the hybrid offspring (Jaguarundi Curl). There is a list below. There is an almost endless number of possibilities but commonsense (hopefully), limitations imposed by cat associations and health issues restrict the number.

The opposite to human created hybrid cat breeds are the natural breeds such as the Abyssinian and Norwegian Forest Cat although breeders have eroded the natural genetic state of these “natural” breeds. The natural breeds evolved over a long time and were “discovered”.

Here is a long, but not necessarily exhaustive, list of domestic hybrid cat breeds1:

Entirely Wild Cat Hybrids

The term “wildcat hybrids” commonly means a domestic cat to wild cat hybrid but on this page this section refers to the creation of a new wild cat type (not species) from the mating of two different wild cat species. This almost always happens for the entertainment of humankind and not naturally (exception: the servical, see below). People like to play god when it comes to hybrid cats. Attempts to create wildcat hybrids have sometimes proved unsuccessful – example: crossing the oncilla and margay< /a>, two small wildcats2.

A servical is a cross between a male serval and a female caracal. This happened accidentally in Los Angeles Zoo. These hybrid cats are tawny with pale spots. If a female servical is crossed to a male caracal the result is a car-servical; if she is crossed to a male serval the result is a ser-servical. A male caracal crossed with a female serval is called a caraval.

Here are some more wild cat hybrids:

  • Marlot — male margay x female ocelot (Leopardus pardalis)
  • Blynx or Lynxcatbobcat (Lynx rufus) x species of lynx.
  • Euro-Chaus (man-made hybrid) European wildcat (F. silvestris) – the Scottish Wildcat is one example although considered a separate species by some x Jungle cat (F. chaus)
  • Jungle lynxJungle cat x bobcat (man made exotic pet)
  • Ocelotcougar hybrids3 — these are claimed to have taken place in a private zoo in French Guiana. The cougar is three times the size of the ocelot and the former has 38 chromosomes while the latter has 2 less
  • Liger — a tiger crossed with a male lion (male ligers are sterile)
  • Tigron — tiger crossed with a female lion (male tigrons are sterile)
  • Leopon — male leopard and female lion
  • Ti-Liger, Ti-Tigon, Li-Tigon, Li-Liger — these are hybrids of hybrids

Father

Mother

Offspring

Lion

Tiger

Liger

Tiger

Lion

Tigon

Lion

Liger

Li-liger

Lion

Tigon

Li-tigon

Tiger Tigon Ti-tigon

Tiger

Liger

Ti-liger

Wild Cat/Domestic Cat Hybrids

I have made a list of these some time ago, so I simply refer to it here: Wildcat Hybrids. The best known example is the Bengal cat. There are many others. The Bengal cat is man (woman) made. Wild cats, though, sometimes mate with domestic cats, naturally. A good example is the Pellas cat, a Scottish Wild cat/domestic cat hybrid. They are black. There are real difficulties working out whether the Scottish Wildcat remains purebred due to centuries of hybridisation (see Is the Scottish Wildcat a Moggie?). See also Scottish Wildcat Sightings. Higher generation wildcat to domestic cat male hybrids are sterile. Hybrid cats in this category are popular and controversial.

From Hybrid Cats to Home Page

See the Worlds Biggest Cat for some hybrid cats

notes

1 http://pictures-of-cats.org/

2 Fernand Mery “The life, histor y and magic of the cat” 1967

3 G Dubost & J Royere in 1993 in “Zoo Biology 12″.

 



Comments

Hybrid Cats — 2 Comments

  1. I am trying to find out what kind of breed my female cat is. I know we have an orange tabby and they had 1 litter of kittens and the ones we kept look like a gray tabby with calaco markings. The other 1 look like a white cat with and orange stripped tail with blue eyes. The momma cat looks like a calaco but all black. Can some one help me please?

  2. Pingback: Marlot hybrid cat breed by Leigh-Ann Andersen | Critters 360

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