Hybrid cats can be divided into three categories, entirely domestic cat hybrids, wild cat hybrids and wild cat/domestic cat hybrids:
- Definition of “Hybrid”
- Species versus Breed
- Hybrid Vigor
- Entirely Domestic Cat Hybrids
- Entirely Wild Cat Hybrids
- Wild Cat/Domestic Cat Hybrids
Here are various definitions of this word:
- composite, mixture
- The offspring of parents that have different genetically determined traits.
- The offspring of genetically dissimilar parents.
I explore these definitions more in the sections below.
This page on hybrid cats deals with species of cats (wild cats) and breeds of cats (domestic cats). A species of cat is one that has been categorised by people (scientists) for the sake of order, science and study. The process of classification is called taxonomy. To a certain extent it is evolving due to differences of opinion and the rise in genetic analysis (whereas in the past it was based on form and anatomy etc.). There are 36 species of wild cat although this figure is not set in cement (at Jan 2010). All breeds of cat are from the same species of wildcat: the domesticated wild cat. In this instance the term “wild cat” refers to a species of wild cat, which is somewhat confusing. Wild cat can also be spelled “wildcat”.
The scientific name is heterosis. It is recognised that when two different species or breeds are crossed the offspring can be larger and/or stronger. This is perhaps nature’s way of approving the process as it creates a cat with a greater variety of genes, which at a crude level will be a more healthy animal, at least potentially. The converse is inbreeding depression. The word “depression” in this context does not describe the mental process of being very sad but a depressed or weakened immune system and a predisposition to illhealth. Increased homozygosity through breeding for appearance can result in ill health and distorted appearance (see Deformed Cats). Wild cats are also forced to inbreed jeopardising survival. The classic wild cat example is the Siberian tiger. Captive tigers are not uncommonly inbred.
This refers to the mating of a cat of one breed with a cat of another breed to create a new breed. Sometimes three or more different breeds may be involved (Ocicat). It could be argued that random breed cats (moggies) are the ultimate expression of the domestic cat hybrid. If different cat breeds mate indefinitely you get the moggie.
Cat breeders have naturally sought to create new cat breeds. Hybrid cats is an obvious route. Sometimes this is done by taking two well known cat breeds and producing a new one. An example would be the Exotic Shorthair (shorthaired Persian). Sometimes the parents of the hybrid are not well known and neither, therefore, is the hybrid offspring (Jaguarundi Curl). There is a list below. There is an almost endless number of possibilities but commonsense (hopefully), limitations imposed by cat associations and health issues restrict the number.
The opposite to human created hybrid cat breeds are the natural breeds such as the Abyssinian and Norwegian Forest Cat although breeders have eroded the natural genetic state of these “natural” breeds. The natural breeds evolved over a long time and were “discovered”.
Here is a long, but not necessarily exhaustive, list of domestic hybrid cat breeds1:
- Alaskan Snow Cat — cross between a Silver Persian and a Somali
- Artic Curl – Turkish Angora crossed with the Selkirk Rex
- Australian Mist — cross between the Abyssinian cat (a nicely balanced and a very popular cat), the Burmese and domestic shorthair (mixed breed) cats
- Bambino — crossing the Sphynx cat and a Munchkin cat
- Bombay – crossing a Sable Burmese with a black American Shorthair and good breeding
- Bramble cat – the Bengal, the Peterbald and other breeds have been incorporated into the breeding program for this cat
- Burmilla — Chinchilla Persian and the Burmese female
- California Spangled — a hybridization of various domestic cats such as the Abyss inian, American and British Shorthairs
- Cheetoh – a cross between the Bengal cat (great pictures) and Ocicat
- Classicat – marbled Ocicat (see Ocicat below)
- Cymric — Manx and Norwegian Forest Cat (this is uncertain)
- Dwelf – hybrid cat, a cross between the Sphynx, the Munchkin and the Highlander or the American Curl
- Elf — a deliberate hybridization of two well known cats, the Sphynx and the American Curl
- Exotic Shorthair — two pure-bred cats, the American Shorthair and the Persian (Ultra Persian)
- Foldex – cross from the mating of the well known Scottish Fold and the Exotic Shorthair cats
- Highlander – complex history of many hybrids
- Himalayan – cross between Siamese and Persians
- Kanaani – uncertain hybrid
- Kinkalow – cross between the founding dwarf cat the Munchkin and an AmericanCurl
- Lambkin – Munchkin crossed with the Selkirk Rex
- Napoleon – cross between the Munchkin and Persians, Himalayan and Exotic Shorthairs
- Nebelung – natural hybrid – cross between two random bred cats
- Ocicat – the result of an accident in trying to breed a pointed Abyssinian
- Poodle Cat – three way cross between the Devon Rex, Scottish Fold and European Shorthair
- Ragdoll – cross between a Persian type cat and Birman type cat (both non-purebred or random bred cats)
- RagaMuffin – please see Ragdoll. This is a very similar cat breed with an overlapping history
- Skookum – cross between the Munchkin and the LaPerm cat breed
- Snowshoe – deliberate hybridization of the Siamese and the American Bicolor cats (cats carrying the white spotting gene)
- Tiffany – either a discovered cat (in 1967) and then developed, or the creation of crossing Foreign Longhair/Angora, Havana, and Abyssinian cats
- Tonkinese – cross between a Traditional or Classic Siamese Cat and a Burmese cat
- Toyger – domestic tabby random bred cat and the Bengal.
The term “wildcat hybrids” commonly means a domestic cat to wild cat hybrid but on this page this section refers to the creation of a new wild cat type (not species) from the mating of two different wild cat species. This almost always happens for the entertainment of humankind and not naturally (exception: the servical, see below). People like to play god when it comes to hybrid cats. Attempts to create wildcat hybrids have sometimes proved unsuccessful – example: crossing the oncilla and margay – two small wildcats (2).
A servical is a cross between a male serval and a female caracal. This happened accidentally in Los Angeles Zoo. These hybrid cats are tawny with pale spots. If a female servical is crossed to a male caracal the result is a car-servical; if she is crossed to a male serval the result is a ser-servical. A male caracal crossed with a female serval is called a caraval.
Here are some more wild cat hybrids:
- Marlot — male margay x female ocelot (Leopardus pardalis)
- Blynx or Lynxcat — bobcat (Lynx rufus) x species of lynx.
- Euro-Chaus (man-made hybrid) European wildcat (F. silvestris) – the Scottish Wildcat is one example although considered a separate species by some x Jungle cat (F. chaus)
- Jungle lynx — Jungle cat x bobcat (man made exotic pet)
- Ocelot – cougar hybrids3 — these are claimed to have taken place in a private zoo in French Guiana. The cougar is three times the size of the ocelot and the former has 38 chromosomes while the latter has 2 less
- Liger — a tiger crossed with a male lion (male ligers are sterile)
- Tigron — tiger crossed with a female lion (male tigrons are sterile)
- Leopon — male leopard and female lion
- Ti-Liger, Ti-Tigon, Li-Tigon, Li-Liger — these are hybrids of hybrids
- Jaglion – jaguar/lion cross
I have made a list of these some time ago, so I simply refer to it here: Wildcat Hybrids. The best known example is the Bengal cat. There are many others. The Bengal cat is man (woman) made. Wild cats, though, sometimes mate with domestic cats, naturally. A good example is the Pellas cat, a Scottish Wild cat/domestic cat hybrid. They are black. There are real difficulties working out whether the Scottish Wildcat remains purebred due to centuries of hybridisation (see Is the Scottish Wildcat a Moggie?). See also Scottish Wildcat Sightings. Higher generation wildcat to domestic cat male hybrids are sterile. Hybrid cats in this category are popular and controversial.
See the Worlds Biggest Cat for some hybrid cats