The Caracat is a wild cat hybrid being a cross between a caracal and a purebred domestic cat (the Abyssinian) for the first filial (F1) Caracats. A first filial wild cat hybrid is a cross between the wild cat and a domestic cat. In other words, the cat is half wild cat and half domestic cat. Subsequent filial such as F3-F5 (five generations from the wild cat) have less wild cat genes in them and therefore their character is more that of a domestic cat. The F1 wild cat hybrids retain a lot of the wild cat in terms of energy and sharpness. I think you can see that in the video below. When you live with an F1 Caracat or any other F1 wild cat hybrid you must expect to live with an animal which is much more active and mentally sharper when compared to your average domestic cat.
Apparently, the first interbreeding of caracals with domestic cats occurred in America but that breeder died and her cats were rehomed. The project was carried on by Irina Nazarova, who is now the number one breeder of this hybrid. She had some luck because her young male caracal was happy to mate with domestic cats.
Today, it appears that the Caracat is most often bread in Russia. Irina operates out of her Kataleya breeding cattery. It appears that they have a big operation because my information tells me that the cattery has produced 150 F1 Caracats. They also breed F2, F3, F4 and F5 Caracats although they appear to focus more on the F1, high filial Caracats which is certainly a very exotic cat with an equally exotic price tag of around US$20,000. This is a typical price for an F1 wild cat hybrid. You will find, for example, F1 Savannah cats going for this sort of price in America.
She is located in Krasnodar, Russia. Not far from Crimea and Ukraine. As at May 2022, she’s quite near the Ukraine war.
F3 Caracats sell for about $1,500 or 100,000 rubles. F2 kittens sell for around $5,000 (350,000 rubles).
I’m told that the first F1 Caracat was the product of an accident at Moscow Zoo in 1998 when a female domestic cat entered a male caracal’s enclosure. They mated and it worked as they produce offspring.
People are interested in big domestic cats and all the F1 wildcat hybrids are going to be bigger, normally, than the biggest true domestic cat breed which is the Maine Coon. This is because the caracal is a medium-sized wild cat. They are described as a “slender, long-legs cat of medium size (8-20 kg)”. The quote comes from the celebrated book on the wild cats: Wild Cats of the World by Mel and Fiona Sunquist. A great book by the way.
The wild cat hybrids are controversial. A lot of people think that they should not be bred. I don’t really want to dip into the discussion but I find the process self-indulgent. Carole Baskin of Big Cat Rescue (BCR) (a person I admire) is very much against the wild cat hybrids. Sometimes she has to rescue them because the owner couldn’t cope. People like exotic animals and they like to possess them. It is the high-energy nature of wild cat hybrids which probably leads to their abandonment sometimes. The husband of Helmi Flick, the cat photographer, said that living with an F1 Chausie was like living with a cat on crack cocaine.
Are you and your home suited?
And not infrequently you read stories of F1 hybrids escaping their home. This is a perennial problem: the need to keep such an exotic cat in your home for their safety which is against the nature of this animal who needs a lot of space in which to live. The space they require is far larger than is available in a typical three-bedroom home. You are going to have to be dedicated to looking after a Caracat. It will be a life-changing adoption if you buy one. The change to your life will be as big as having a baby!
High-energy is what to expect. Are your energy levels as high as your Caracat?
As expected, the Caracat has an even-looking, ticked tabby coat without spots, rosettes or stripes. F1 Caracats weigh between 25-30 pounds and are 12-14 inches at the shoulder. There is a slight resemblance to the cougar. The F2 Caracat is described as being 75% Abyssinian and 25% caracal. They can weigh between 20-25 pounds and be around 10-12 inches at the shoulder. As mentioned, they have a more domestic cat temperament than the F1s.
One defining feature of the caracal is the black tufted ears. Some people think that in the wild caracals communicate with their ear tufts. You will get nice ear tufts in the higher filial caracat kittens which I am sure people find attractive. It is reminiscent of the Maine Coon’s ear tufts which are called lynx tipped ears.
Breeding and development
In terms of breeding the Caracat, there is a gestation or mismatch according to Sarah Hartwell. The gestation period of the caracal is 73 days while the gestation period for the Abyssinian is 63 days. This means that hybrids borne by a domestic female cat will be premature in terms of the caracal.
In development, Caracat kittens reach the size of an average domestic cat in 65-72 days. When they are a month old their wild cat genes come into play and they rapidly increase in size. It seems that Irena feeds her kittens quails with raw chicken complemented by dry cat food. Sarah Hartwell believes that the Caracat has a strong immune system as inherited from their caracal parent.
Irina apparently makes sure that her kittens are trained to be as domesticated as possible in order to fit in with their human environment. And it prevents people having to declaw them. There must be a danger here. As mentioned, they are active and they are large. If you receive a swipe or a bite it’s going to be more painful than normal. Keepers of pet servals tend to declaw them. It is the same problem. It is a sad and flawed aspect of the human character to want to possess the exotic creature but not all of them. They need to modify as if they are customised a new car.
Owner’s lifestyle suited? And check out legal requirements.
You might believe that you would love to live with a Caracat because you love their appearance but I would advise that you think twice before adopting. Just ask yourself whether your lifestyle is suited to providing the special caregiving that this exotic companion requires. Also, it’s important that you check out the relevant local laws concerning the ownership of this sort of animal. There may well be restrictions, certainly at the F1 level. At F5 level they are treated as domestic cats but that F1 level they are regarded as wild cats and you may require a licence or there may be a ban where you live.
Below are some more articles on wild cat hybrids.
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