“Marguerite” – sand cat x domestic cat, wild cat hybrid
People interested in the wild cat hybrids ask: “Could a sand cat breed with a house cat?”. The answer is yes and it is called the “Marguerite”. In 2014 it was a new cat breed. It is a sand cat crossed with a domestic cat. The domestic cat, in this instance, is a female ticked tabby. The pictures immediately below show two young, first filial (F1) Marguerites. ‘First filial’ means first generation so their parents are a male sand cat and a female domestic cat. More on that below. And at the base of the page are pictures of what I believe are second generation Marguerites.
The sand cat is the only true desert living cat. The sand cat’s anatomy has evolved for desert living. The cat’s prey (mostly gerbils) provides all the water it needs. There is thick fur on the undersides of the paws. The ears are very large to pick up the sound of prey when hunting at night.
This wild cat hybrid’s name comes from General Margueritte who lead an expedition. The cat was discovered by Capt. Victor Loche in 1856 in Eastern Algeria.
Sarah Hartwell of the messybeast.com website says about the Marguerite:
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“Thought you might like a photo and info regarding the F1 Sand Cat domestic hybrids which are now registered under the breed’s name ‘Marguerite’.
The sire is a pet sand cat who was surplus to conservation breeding; his siblings are used in sand cat breeding programmes so his genetic input wasn’t needed, but it’s a good idea to keep him entire in case he is ever required on breeding loan to a zoo.
His breeding consort is a ticked tabby domestic female and he is also companionable with the pet cats in the household. Their offspring’s head and body shape resemble that of their sand cat sire, being sturdy with stocky legs and large feet; the black “armbands” are also a sand cat trait.
Their ears are relatively wide-set and large, and their muzzles fairly narrow. Sand Cats themselves are tameable (but not domesticated) and these F1 offspring are friendly, especially the males.
As well as being affectionate (including with visitors and the vet), they are very rowdy and rather destructive when playing. One oddity is that they prefer not to jump onto seats, laps, shoulders etc, but climb up instead. They bark like sand cats and also meow, though the mew is an ‘eeing’ sound.”
Here is are a couple of pictures of what I believe are a pair of second-generation Marguerites from the PUREBLISS CATTERY:
The breeder of the kittens above says that they don’t like to be on their own and need to be adopted out in pairs. I am not sure of the logic behind that. They also say that they have sweet temperaments – ‘very soft natured’. I have to say the F2 cats are not that interesting in their appearance. I don’t think this wild cat hybrid has gained any traction as a successful pet to put it simply. And I think the reason is because their appearance compared to the well-known Bengal is muted and less outstanding. Appearance is all when it comes to the wild cat hybrids. These are exotic pets. They need to look exotic too.
Here is another picture from the same cattery:
The information above was ‘early release of information’ in 2014 from Sarah. She was very thankful be given the opportunity to write about this cat. It was hoped the cats would make a public debut over the next few months. Update 2021: I think this was a bit of a non-event. Perhaps the era of excitement about the wild cat hybrid is over. The mainstream wild cat hybrids: Bengal and Savannah are probably enough. There are many others – click here to see a list.
- Click this to read about this new wild cat hybrid on Sarah’s website.
- Sand cat information in plain English.
I have a page on living with wild cat hybrids. Please click here.
Note: this page was written in 2014. It has been upgraded and republished on Nov 30, 2021.
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I’m just curious… why would you hybridize a Sand Cat? They are small and, if socialized, seem to do fine in homes. They are litterbox trainable and everything. I would try to obtain another Sand Cat and breed them pure. I just don’t like all the hybridization going on… if people want an exotic cat, there are plenty of them that make decent pets. It seems to me that if you took the more anti-social ones out of the breeding pool, eventually you would end up with very well adapted house-sandcats, house-caracals, etc.
Hi Robert, it is probably possible. You could argue that the Asian leopard cat should never have been selected for the Bengal cat because this wild cat is too independent and untameable. The question is do we need domesticated wild cats rather than giving them space to live naturally in the wild? The latter is preferable. We should not possess wild cats possessions to entertain and amuse us. It is too self-indulgent and bad for conservation. Times have changed.
I’ll admit that this is a very attractive cat.
But, I don’t have an understanding about why a project like this would be necessary when I just read Michael’s article about CKD on the rise and lacking enough research. I think time and money could be better spent finding answers to existing issues rather than creating something new.
More cats being born equals more cats being killed.
Yes the CKD article really gets me angry – I feel like, as a complete stranger, I could walk into the cat world and tell them all get up off their butts and do the right thing.
In this day and age – whenever one looks at any commercial activity, one can see huge amounts of problems, and those problems tend to always be similar in nature accross the board. Usually something about the unsustainability of the activity due to cutting corners with quality to affect cost – and usually the money saved going into the pockets of 1% of the people involved in whichever commercial activity is concerned.
Infact – it’s reached a point where if you enlightened me to a proffession I never heard of, I would already assume these problems MUST exist within it, because that’s the story and endgame of capitalism.
Totally agree, Dee, with a passion. Resources and energy are not always directed in the right place. A lot of money and energy is spent in “entertainment” (this new breed is a form of entertainment really) when there is much work to do to fix the basics. I like fun and entertainment but we should have fun after the work of reducing CKD, reducing shelter deaths etc.. has been completed.
Sad sad sad, more messing with Nature, designing cats for the well off to ‘own’ while hundreds of already perfect cats are killed daily because they are ‘ordinary’ cats 🙁
It had to happen in “CAT BREEDING”. Another new hybrid species born out of cross-breeding a wild and a domestic cat.The “Marguerite” looks pretty and small, excellent for small aprtments.Wonder what would be the cost once it is commercially sold.As for the “BIG CATS” of the forest, seems they might head towards extinction in the wild over the decades as forests and their habitat disappear. We humans might then be left with pet hybrid cats as companions of a once wild majestic species of predator animals.
I think we are going the way that you foresee. This wild cat hybrid would be expensive, especially a first filial (F1). I would expect a price similar to the F1 Savannah cat at around $20-30,000 for a very high quality cat.
The point about wild cat hybrids is that they are more active and more demanding than the more docile non-wild cat hybrid. A lot of people like the way the wild cat hybrids look but don’t understand the demands of caretaking.
I was offered one of the F1 males (who is especially cuddly with people), but had to decline as I know I’m not equipped to have such high energy hybrids, especially with older cats in the house. Unlike many other F1s (which usually get a wilder temperament) the temperaments are great, but my oldies wouldn’t appreciate rambunctious youngsters around.
As for Frankencats, it’s a hybrid that occurs in nature without human intervention (the same is true of Rusty-Spotted Cat hybrids).
Wow, you were privileged to be offered an F1 but it does not surprise me because of your standing in the cat community. I would expect that there are very few naturally occurring sand cat hybrids because this cat lives in the desert and not many people nor the domestic cat like to live in the desert. I suppose the breeding takes place between cats and people on the fringes of the deserts.
Bearing in mind the sand cat is adapted to desert life do you think the F1 hybrid would prefer a certain sort of climate? Is this adaptation a slight barrier to a successful domestic life (carpets and furniture etc.?)
It’s a horrible thought, the world without any of our beautiful wild cats. And not just them, all the other species that humans have made extinct (and still do.) There’s one species the world could do without, and that’s our own.
I agree with you Lynzi and there are a lot of people who think like us.
All too clinical for me, another unnecessary Frankenstein cat produced by a breeding programme which no doubt would have destroyed the kittens if they had been found to be unhealthy or of poor temperament, more hybrids for rich women and men to spend their money on, designer cats to impress with, to keep caged or on leashes, and even more DSH’s – moggies – will go homeless.
Yes, some people do call hybrid cats “Frankencats”. And yes, I struggle with cat breeds and new breeds. If everything was perfect in the cat world and all cats were homed and well cared for you might be able to justify creating a new cat breed. The cat world is far from perfect, however.
Well said! It is heartbreaking, when I visit relatives in the country, because there are so many feral cats around now. If you are a breeder and can find homes for kittens, OK, but if not, neuter them. All the cats I have ever owned have been rescue cats. Currently, we have two beautiful black and white “moggies”. One is the most stunning semi-long hair (though this winter she seems to have sprouted uber-fur and looks more like a full long hair) yet she, along with eight others, were dumped beside a flooding river to drown. Our new “baby” was born to a feral mother. Sadly, she had problems with the pregnancy, but she was found and taken in by a cat protection fosterer. She actually adapted back into human company well but sadly, she was just too young to have kittens and she didn’t make it. Her son is a cat any cat-fancier would love though. Although his fur is black and white, his head and ear shape looks just like a miniature caracal. He doesn’t have tufts but he does have the backwards curving ears and he has the longest tail I’ve ever seen. He even trips over it if he gets up too fast when it was wrapped around his feet. Why somebody needs fancy breeds, when cats like this are desperate for good homes, is a mystery. (There’s also a cat on our street that actually looks like a tabby striped lion. He has a proper mane and his facial features look very lionesque. But again he is a rescue “moggy”.)
Well said to you too, The random bred cat is superb and sometimes there are some outstanding individual cats with stunning appearances. The son of a feral cat that you describe sounds like one of those cats.
Thanks for commenting three times Lynzi.
No, the breeder had already made an undertaking to keep the offspring and provide proper care if they had health or temperament problems. It’s one I’m very interested in following as these 2 species hybridise in the wild, though it’s not known if introgressive hybridisation occurs after the F1 generation.
Was there ever any news on further development of the breed, what happened with kittens, subsequent breeding, etc.? I don’t plan to get any – have my hands full with two regular domestic tabbies who are still young (and hopefully will be with me until their very very old age by which time I’ll be old too), but I am really curious about the breed.
Hi Kitty. I have no news on this breed. I’d expect there to be no news. What I will do is research it a bit tomorrow and if I find something significant I’ll report back. Thanks for asking. It is a wild cat hybrid too far, meaning it is not practical and there are now enough wild cat hybrids around plus there is arguably a slight backlash against them. Some states are banning them for example.
Right now the original offspring and several further offspring (bred from a different domestic consort) are in the hands of a couple of experienced breeders. Most of the offspring so far have been boys, which are infertile, and the 2 female hybrids are approaching breeding age. Any further progress will depend on whether the females are fertile with domestic males.
Many thanks Sarah for that genuine information. Only you could come up with it! Thanks again.
Sarah – thank you very much for the information. I was very curious about it.
Kitty, if you scroll down from your comment you’ll see info from Sarah Hartwell. There is a breeder of this wild cat hybrid.
IMO, it’s a more viable proposition than the caracal x Abyssinian hybrids that were produced a few years ago. Of course, we have to wait to find out if the F1 females breed. It’s been a very carefully considered project and monitored by a vet throughout. Had the F1s been unhealthy or poor temperament the breeder would have halted the programme as being genetically unsound.
That is cool! Sandcats are extremely family orientated. I think they would make an excellent domesticated cat. I hope to see more about the breed. Thanks Michael and Sarah! So nice to have something fun to read and beautiful cat to look at on my hours off school, etc.! I’d love to meet these cats.
Thanks Dan. It does make a nice break from the usual stuff. It is very rare these days to see a new cat breed.
Oh dear. I’m not sure I approve. I love the sand cat. There is something about them that is special. I love their desert life. Do we really want to be mixing it up like this? I guess it is the way of things to come. I can only hope responsible people are involved. The friendly males make sense having bred with a ticked tabby. I love those beautiful bat-ears.
They are beautiful aren’t they – but I am a little weary as you Dorothy – it’s a hard call, not forgetting all our cats came from things like this once upon a time.
They are beautiful and the sand cat is the cutest of all wild cats. It’s wild cat species that could have been domesticated but is not as suited to that as the African wildcat. But….for me (and this is personal) I don’t believe the world needs another cat breed. I also have doubts about “exotic cat breeds“. They tend to attract the wrong kind of owner – high spending consumers.
DW, I think like you on this one. It is interesting from a cat breeder’s point of view and some wealthier people will no doubt like to buy a Marguerite but do we need a new breed?
The way I feel about breeding in actual fact is as follows. In my mind it’s important to conserve for example the classic Siamese or the older more healthy versions, the original versions of the more ancient breeds.
In this respect I have to say that the work Harvey is doing is a form of conservation and so I am pro the kind of breeding Harvey is involved in. He is coming out with the kind of useful conservational information about a couple breeds of cat which have been otherwise hijacked and poisoned by the cat fancy.
Also Harvey has the most interesting and to me, useful information about some of the oldest cats in the world.
So Harvey is interested in roots when it comes to genetics and breeding – and I suppose I am too – I always agree with what Harvey says, and I learn alot from him. I think he is doing a good thing for the cat world even though, technically he is adding to the population. There’s a huge difference between what Harvey is doing, researching and learning through his practice – compared – to what the cat fancy is deep into with their extremely morally questionable practices of modifying and changing breeds for the purpose of creating new cats which aren’t bred with their wellbeing and health as the primary parameters for their efforts.
So – if it’s about history and conservation – as is the case with Harvey, I am ok with it. I’ve learn’t alot from Harvey and his site and alot of that knowledge must come from his working with them every day – and that’s a good thing. They Angora is one of the oldest breeds of cat. Harvey lives in the place where the earliest recording of cats have been discovered. His role is clearly very important and creates some balance in the whole breeding world.
Just my opinion.
Your opinion is spot on. There is real justification in conserving the natural breeds but these are not breeds in the conventional or Western sense. The Turkish Angora that Harvey supports so well is a moggie, a random bred cat that is more pure bred and has a far better pedigree than the any cat fancier’s Turkish Angora.
Harvey mission is to recognise the real “breeds” which I believe are better described as types of domestic cat or cats from a certain region.
The Siamese cat in Thailand is the original and true Siamese but is also by Western standards a non-pedigree cat. If a person took a Siamese cat from Thailand to a cat show in America, the cat would be shown in the “Household Pet” category (good looking moggies).
The idea of the cat breed is totally modern and human created and nothing to do with the on-the-ground real situation that existed before 1850.
Why not? As the habitat for wildcats grows smaller, it’s likely that wildcats number will be reduced. Captive breeding and re-introduction of poor sand cats (as well as other small wildcats) will not eliminated the problem with habitat reduction. At least this way we’ll have some of their looks preserved. From what I read, sand cats are friendly cats even if not domesticated.
I am not sure I’d be lining up to buy one (but then I already have two kittens and am not looking for another cat), but I am worried a bit about their health. messybeast mentions that sand cats need dry air.
The Sand Cat is so endangered now, in the wild, I can’t help thinking that “domestication” might be the best way to preserve the species. (Although I don’t think any cats are truly domesticated. They deign to live with humans but unless there is some limiting factor (like illness or extreme age) they adapt to living wild without any difficulty. Re-domesticating a feral cat is much harder.)
Anyway, since Sand Cats can adapt to living with humans, it seems like the sensible thing to do would be to work towards that aim, rather than cross-breeding them. Obviously, the best solution would be to stop encroachment on their terrain and assist them in recovering their population density, but the chances of that happening… Perhaps, if we tried to do both things, one would work and save the species. Even if it means adapting to living with humans, it’s got to be worth it to save them? (Plus, if they were more readily available as pets, it would reduce the demand for them on the black market, making those still living wild a less profitable target for poachers.)
Hi Lynzi, there is some sense in what you write although it is sad because it would be far better if wild cats were allowed by humans to live in their own home: the wild.