(Birmingham AL USA)
I drove from Alabama to w. VA to get 2 F1 jungle cat (Felis chaus) hybrids from a Bengal breeder who rescued them. The F1+ 75% jungle cat 25% domestic kittens had been purchased by and surrendered by someone who had no clue what they were getting into and ended up with her.
They were two adolescent females appox. 9 mos.- 12 mos. old (in wild cat termed this is teen years). They were not what most would refer to as “bottle-fed”. They were literally terrified of being touched by human hands. One was extremely afraid of humans and she wouldn’t come out at all while we were home but hide under a bed in the guest room, which lasted approx 4 mos.
Through video surveillance we could see, once both me and my husband went to work, that the two “girlfriends” would run wild up and down the hallway and through the living room and bedrooms while we were at work.
We had made extraordinary accommodations for them knowing through research how much was involved. The spare bedroom was their room with floor to ceiling catwalks and a cat door through the window to a 12x14x12 high roof enclosed outdoor retreat. We also enclosed our entire front porch with very unattractive rabbit fencing to give them added outdoor space via cat door.
The brave female warmed to us quickly via feather stick therapy, while the shy one stayed in hiding under the bed literally for 4 months! She would not interact with us and seemed scared… no terrified. I would sit for hours on the floor next to the bed were she hid, quietly reading (I am a book worm) and would frequently say her name and speak to her.
There was always fresh water and fresh food next to me but she would not come out until we were asleep or at work. It was finally the other female that made her come out of hiding! She would run up and down the hallway when we were at work and make these awful mournful catcalls to her friend to come out and join her like she did while we worked.
We were extremely careful not to make sudden moves or noises for several weeks while this adjustment took place. Anyone thinking about owning a hybrid or full blooded small wildcat species needs to understand that you must be completely 100% devoted to making every sacrifice imaginable to that animal.
I have also owned 2 pure jungle cats (not wildcat hybrids) who had never known anything but the life they were born into in a cage with no freedom. My two girls were comfortable in our home with us when I took on these two jungle cats. With their 75% breeding and age advantage over the two younger pure breeds it was a gamble but I was prepared to divide my home to give the best care possible while I looked for permanent accommodations if it was needed.
I retrieved these two young jungle cats from Ohio where exotic breeders have less restrictions. We brought them home put the pet carriers in the “cat room” and opened the doors… we retreated to give them space but left the bedroom door open enough to explore the rest of the house. (These cats have a strong sense of smell – we did let our girls sniff them and them our girls through the pet carriers before release). The two jungle cats were a young boy and young girl so that made 3 girls in the house with 1 boy. Anything else would most likely been a recipe for disaster. As it was its a good thing my husband works in construction. When you foster or house an animal like this you better be prepared to spend money…a lot of money because even the females spray.
If you have ever owned a regular male cat that sprayed… that is nothing in comparison. So if you cannot afford to tare the sheetrock off the studs in your house and completely re-do the interior you do not have any logical right to even fantasise about owning and interacting with one of these special animals.
They do not follow “HUMAN” standards; they interact with us under the best circumstances. They “tolerate us” and under extraordinary conditions “love us” but they are wild creatures who were born to be free and unencumbered from the caging and restrictions of “domestic” life.
I would probably foster or rescue one of these wonderful exotic wild and lost animals again because I know how much time, money, work, and patience is involved and there are a lot of people who want one but not a lot of people who will pick up the pieces aand love it when it doesn’t meet its owners “rose colored glasses” expectations.
I am not trying to be harsh to the people who want these creatures but I have been there.. naively and learned that you have to give A LOT more than you receive. Please consider carefully before you enter into a purchase. This is truly a very long term commitment. Could you bring a child into the world and after a year decide its too much trouble and dump it off on someone else?
These amazing creatures deserve the same consideration. They bond for life. Changing owners is difficult. Why should they be imprisoned and passed around unwanted because they are.. exactly what they are.. special amazing wild exotic creatures who only want to be free and hunt and prosper.
I have very mixed feelings about the “exotic animal market” as you can see I loved my fur babies.. I also hurt for them and the misguided person who was the original owners and impulsively purchased them and gave them up when they were not so “cute” anymore.
I stress again do your research this is a long term commitment..
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