Do sand cats make good pets?

On the internet people ask if sand cats make good pets. The same question applies to other small wild cats. There are a lot of people who fancy the idea of having a small wild cat as a pet because they look awesome. To many people the small wild cats are more eye catching than the best looking purebred domestic cat and these people are probably looking for a status symbol of a domestic cat.

Sand cat kitten
Sand cat kitten. Photo: Living Desert Zoo and Gardens.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

But…it is a very bad idea to dream about keeping a small wild cat as a pet. There are many obstacles, the most obvious of which is that they are bloody wild! They don’t fit in with family life. The sand cat looks like a domestic cat. But it ain’t. This cute cat is a million miles from a domestic cat. You’ll be driven nuts by his/her behavior. You’ll give the cat up fairly quickly and regret the day you ever had the thought about treating a sand cat as a domestic cat.

Even F1 wild cat hybrids can drive people nuts. They’re great looking cats but you’ll need a great deal of patience and time to looking after them properly.

Some people think servals make nice pets. No. You’ll find declawed servals abandoned in sanctuaries etcetera because the owner couldn’t put up with the urine spraying and whatever shenanigans the cat gets up to like escape onto the street where he’ll scare the neighbours and be shot by the police.

Sand cats don’t do well in captivity. Domestication of a cat is a form captivity because you could not let a pet sand cat wander around the neighborhood. You’d have to have a enclosure and a good sized one. Are you prepared for that? And finding a vet who’ll agree to provide a service. Not all high street vets want to treat wild cats.

And then before you even start you’ll have to check the legal stuff. Many US states forbid the keeping of exotic animals as pets. That’ll take some research as it is quite complicated. Some cities such as New York ban wild cats as pets. In the UK you’ll need a special permit and so on. It is all very complicated and for what? Chaos!

Then you’ll have to reconcile the fact that in buying a sand cat as a “pet” you have encouraged the stealing of a kitten sand cat from the wild. Do you want to add to the persecution by humans of this cute wild cat, the only true desert cat? No you don’t. And if you don’t care you should.

In fact you may have encouraged the shooting of a mother sand cat so that poachers can claim the kittens to sell them as pets. This sort of thing happens with some small wild cats such as ocelots.

The point is this: don’t go down the road of thinking about a sand cat as a pet. It is not a road to go down. You’ll be far happier knowing that you have helped a unwanted rescue cat and probably saved a life if you meander down to the local cat rescue and adopt a cat there.

Let’s leave the wild cats in the wild. Let’s do our best to protect their habitat. Let’s do our best to punish the people who trade in wild cats for profit. Let’s live in harmony with them – they in their home and us in ours.

Another reason why they don’t make good pets is because their bite is about twice as strong as a domestic cat’s. They have a bite force quotient of 130 compared to the domestic cat’s 67. Get bitten by a pet sand cat and there’d be real damage.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior
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