Bengal cats refused entry into Hawaii

A couple’s three Bengal cats have been refused entry into Hawaii because the authorities in that state decided that the cats were genuine first filial wild cat hybrids whose parents were Asian leopard cats.

First filial wild cat hybrids from the following wild cat a species are forbidden in Hawaii: leopard cat (this is the Asian leopard cat), lynx, ocelot, margay, puma, jaguarundi, bobcat and wild cat. This is not a complete list because at the end of their list they use the term “etc.”.

You can click on the link below if you want to see the full list of prohibited animals in Hawaii as at November 28, 2006.

Animals forbidden in Hawaii

A Seattle couple were trying to bring into Hawaii three Bengal cats. The state Department of Agriculture ad-hoc committee appear to have met specifically to decide the case and voted 2 to 1 against the cats’ importation onto the island.

The cats are currently at the state Animal Quarantine Station in Halawa. They will be transported back to where they came from at the expense of the owners.

We don’t know whether the cats are first filial not. It is likely that they are not first filial but possibly fifth filial cats and therefore very similar to normal domestic cats. This would make them legal in Hawaii. However, as mentioned, the authorities decided that they were first filial hybrid and therefore on the list of prohibited animals.


It would seem that if a person wishes to import Bengal cats into Hawaii they should have hard proof that their cats are not anything other than fifth filial domestic cats (or technically 2nd filial downwards).

I am a bit surprised that the couple were not able to produce documentary evidence to that effect. However, people are warned. These regulations apply to all wild cat hybrids in my view which means other cat breeds such as the Savannah will be prohibited unless the owner can convince the authorities that they are not first filial.

If you click on this link you will see a full list of wild cat hybrids.

Source: (note: I don’t provide links because often the links break causing me problems).

9 thoughts on “Bengal cats refused entry into Hawaii”

  1. One other comment: I see the Cats come from Seattle and Hawaii want to return them.

    But I read now, Bengals are not allowed in Seattle either. So Hawaii cannot simply send them back to Seattle, because Bengals are restricted there too. Sounds, that can end up in a Catch-22.

  2. Hi,

    What does “first filial” means? Did it mean First Generation? When you have a cat from a store (like we) and the cat has some attributes of a Bengal (for example Markings), you never know if it is 2nd Generation or 5th Generation and cannot prove it.

    As well two years ago we ask the Hawaii State what is with Cats like Toygers, where the last Bengal was 20-25 generations in the Breed and there are not named in their list. They told us, that Toygers, Savannahs and similar Breeds are still considered banned, even when the Bengal in the Breed was 20-25 generations in the past.


    • Yes, first filial means first generation i.e. one parent is the wild cat species. Normally wild cat hybrids that are 5th and lower generations are considered pure domestic cats and they don’t fall into a category of wild cat hybrids but it depends upon the legislation of each state or lower jurisdiction.

      • This rule I know in many states and countries regarding 5th generation. But so far I was told in Hawaii this rule did not exist. What makes for me no sense.

        Hawaii denies, for example, a Cat what 20 generations ago has a wild cat in it.
        But a German Shepard is allowed and that is a breed, that 30-40 generations ago come from a wolf.

        I can understand that Islands need more strict rules when it comes to Dogs and Cats.

        In Hawaii, the argument is, that Hybrids can cross the water barriers that protect some areas, because cats usually did not cross the water or because hybrids can jump higher and longer than a domestic cat.

        But when a cat breed is domestic since 5, 10 or 20 generations, they has domestic attributes, size and usually feat water too.

        And in other areas of the island, any cat – even domestic ones – are still a danger to the wildlife and finally, this danger is limited. I hear all the time, one cat can kill thousands of birds in a year, but I read as well about studies, that disapprove this theory. And Birds can cross a water barrier too.

        Restrictions of Hybrid Cats up to 5h or 7th Generation make sense, but beyond that, it becomes “guesswork” what is allowed or not. The result is the way Hawaii choose: An Ad Hoc Committee where people decide, if a cat is allowed or not. How should an Owner prove, that a cat has not 1% or 2% Wild cat in it?

        I consider the way how the state of Hawaii deals with that more to prevent people et all to move to the state. A Vet in the UK told me once, that the strict Import Rules for Dogs and Cats has primarily this goal, to lower the total number of immigration.

        • Thanks Jerry for your comment. There is probably no need for restrictions on wild cat hybrids at 5th generation and higher. The Hawaiian authorities probably have this wrong in my view. However, they are particularly concerned about their bird life and are concerned that bird species will be attacked more proficiently by wild cat hybrids. I get that. It is probably true that all wild cat hybrids even 5th generation are better hunters than conventional moggies. They have that wild spark and added athleticism but it is almost invisible at 5th gen. and higher.

  3. So lets be honest here. Feral cats do present a problem in Hawaii already letting in a species that is directly related to wild cats should be forbidden. I would ask if the cats are spayed and neutered as that would make for a different opinion on my part.
    This may also be a test case where as you stated no hybrid may be allowed in. I’ve made my view clear before. No one needs to take an animal from the wild to make a hybrid for their own vanity. I am not devaluing the right for these helpless pets already created simply that they should have not be created in the first place.

    • I tend to agree with you ME. There was never a need to create this breed other than to make money and for self-indulgent purposes.

      • If they want to engage with a half feral pissed off cat they should get a job pilling them at the local veterinary clinic…joking of course but really our domestic cats are half wild. The common domestic cat has a vast gene pool so there is no need to introduce something from the wild for vigor. What it does do is forever remove and dilute those genes and remove them from wild breeding animals who need them. I don’t see much difference between this and poaching animals for parts till they are extinct.


Leave a Comment

follow it link and logo