Are caracals legal in the UK?

Pet caracal with Maine Coon companion
Pet caracal with Maine Coon companion. Picture in public domain.
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Licences are required for all animals listed under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. The caracal is listed under the “SCHEDULE: KINDS OF DANGEROUS WILD ANIMALS”. Therefore you require a licence to own and possess a caracal in the UK.

There is a useful document online in PDF format which I have downloaded and uploaded to this website which you can read if you want to dig around for more detail:

Global regulations regarding possession of exotic cats

Licences are provided on an annual basis and expire on December 31 of the year they are issued.

You apply to your local authority and they will decide on the basis of various factors including whether the ownership of a caracal (in this instance) is contrary to public safety and whether the applicant is a suitable person to hold a licence and, further, whether the accommodation for the animal is secure and suitable and finally whether there are measures in place with respect of fire and other emergencies.

A veterinarian will inspect the premises where the animal is normally kept. In addition, the applicant has to make sure that they have met with current planning law for their local authority. If a licence is granted it may be under certain conditions such as a requirement that an insurance policy is taken out.

A breach of licence may lead to the animal being seized and even euthanised. It appears that around 4000 animals are held under licences granted under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act. In 2010 there were 137 wild cat species including leopards and lynx owned and possessed by people in England.

The claws of a pet caracal
The claws of a pet caracal. Photo: in public domain.

Wild cats as pets

I agree with PETA on the issue of ownership of wild cats as pets. Actually it’s more about common sense. It is not a good idea to own a caracal as a pet or any other wild cat species. It undermines their conservation. It’s paints an incorrect picture that it is acceptable to try and domesticate a wild cat species and own them as a pet. There needs to be a shift in attitude by people in respect of their relationship with wild cats species. We should leave them alone in the wild and allow them sufficient space to live a natural life in their own habitat. It’s going to require a paradigms shift in human behaviour to achieve this. At the moment humans are on a dire course leading to the extinction of many small and large wild cat species because their habitat is being eroded and flagrantly destroyed in order to feed people i.e. by knocking down forests to plant plantations of palm oil and soya and to mine the land for precious metals. It’s got to stop somewhere unless we want to accept the fact that at one time in the future there will be no wild cats left in the wild.

One last thing: get prepared to be sprayed with urine or scratched by those beautiful claws!

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