A petition has been filed at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the California Fish and Game Commission, which seeks to place restrictions upon the ownership of wild cat hybrids in California. This is an interesting move. It hints at what is going on, in terms of attitude and approach, in Australia. In Australia they have banned the breeding and importation of Savannah cats for example. The Australian authorities fear that if wild cat hybrids escape they will mate with feral cats to create super feral cats and this is one reason why the petition has been filed in California.
Daniel Lutz, who works at the Animal Legal Defence Fund, one of the petitioners, said:
“The threat of hybrid cats that are released or abandoned, that can then breed with feral cats is a very severe threat,”
The petition requests that the law makes it obligatory to spay and neuter wild cat hybrids, have permits and to ensure that the cat is at least four generations from the wild (fourth filial) and above through registration of the pedigree.
My initial reaction is this. The petitioners are, by implication, referring to first and second filial wild cat hybrids. They must be because fourth and fifth filial wild cat hybrids are really very close to domestic cats in behaviour and size. After all, the well-known Bengal cat is often a fifth filial and they are all over America, perfectly domesticated and not causing any problems, anywhere.
Nearly all wild cat hybrids including Savannah cats are 4 or 5 generations from the wild. Wild cat hybrids which are first filial meaning, for the Savannah cat, the father is a serval and the mother as a domestic, are extremely rare. There is no point making a law which applies to half a dozen cats in the state!
The petition also states that there is no known rabies vaccine for wild cat hybrids. I find that this very surprising indeed and I have a strong feeling that it is incorrect.
Daniel Lutz also says that owners of exotic cats (i.e. wild cat hybrids) tire of them after a while because they have difficulty finding places to take them (I don’t understand that). He believes that there is an increased risk of people abandoning wild cat hybrids. As far as I am aware, there is no evidence to support that assertion.
He also goes on to say that when these cats are abandoned to local shelters, the shelter can’t handle them so they have to be placed in a sanctuary with tigers and lions.
Mr Lutz may have obtained some of his ideas from Carole Baskin of Big Cat Rescue who is well-known for her strong dislike of wild cat hybrids.
I don’t know how many of these exotic cats are abandoned and placed into shelters but I suspect very few. If a fifth or sixth generation wild cat hybrid is abandoned to a shelter they will behave somewhat like an ordinary domestic cat and as there are so few first and second generation exotic cats of this type I would expect that there none at shelters.
I’m happy to be corrected on that but if I am correct, the petition serves no useful purpose because in general wild cat hybrid in California are no more a threat than any other cat domestic or feral.
Mr Lutz might reflect on the fact that by far the biggest threat to wildlife and people is the species of which he is a member.
Source: 89.3 KPCC