The thought of owing a rusty-spotted cat is quite popular judging by the Google searches:
Note: this article is in 3 parts for tech reasons. Sorry. There is a link to next part at the end of each section. Thanks.
The answer depends on where you are and I am referring to the country or the state in the USA. In the UK, it is legal to own a rusty-spotted cat. You don’t need a licence to own a rusty-spotted cat in the UK, which greatly surprises me, because it is an exception to the list of dangerous wild animals as set out in the schedule to The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 (Modification) (No.2) Order 2007 (a ‘statutory instrument’). Note: I have amended this section on May 7, 2022 having noticed that this cat is ‘excepted’ from the list of designated dangerous wild animals.
The reason must be because of its size. It is probably considered to be no more dangerous than a domestic cat. However, this diminutive cat has the mind of a lion ?. I have some doubts about the drafting of this statutory instrument so please check with the local authority. I would suggest that this statutory instrument is badly drafted and there are errors in it but I don’t know the history behind it.
The rusty-spotted cat would, however, continue to be protected once owned under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
Moral dimension and conservation
However, there is also the moral dimension which I’ll get out of the way. I know it is boring but it is necessary to touch on this. Arguably, it is immoral to own a rusty-spotted cat as a pet because this is a wild cat species. It is the smallest species of wild cat and probably the smallest cat on the planet which is why people who’d normally adopt a domestic cat might want to adopt this little feline. It is exotic, special and very cute looking but its behaviour is not cute.
This cat is not domesticated and it should be allowed to live peaceably in its habitat in the wild. To try and own one as a domestic cat is both foolhardy and wrong. It is also quite possibly doomed to failure. It is reputed to be a fierce fighter with one in captivity viciously attacking a gazelle fawn without any fear. There was great difficulty in getting it off. It is small but if you listened to it screaming in your living room, you’d probably be scared shitless or your wife or child would. Or you’d better get a gallon of enzyme cleaner to get rid of the smell of pee sprayed all over your favourite carpet or sofa when it marks territory.
And they are incredibly agile climbers and movers. Believe it or not they are substantially better movers than domestic cats. They have great grace and agility in their movements and dart around like squirrels.
Then there are the conservation issues. In the wild, the population of this species is declining because of human activities. If you buy one, where did it come from? The wild? A zoo? Someone stole a cub from their mother? None of it is good and it’s bad for conservation.
To recap: morally, ethically and practically it is not a good idea to own one. But is it illegal?
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