Tigers as Pets: The Pinnacle of Self-indulgence

Rescue tigers
Rescue tigers
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

There are many declawed and even detoothed tigers as pets. People like to think they are sort of overgrown tabby cats. They just have to have one, in the same way they have to have a new and larger car or the biggest fridge.

Of course a 400 pound tiger eats 5,000 pounds of meat annually, which probably means these pet tigers are feed badly with attendant health problems. The cost of keeping a tiger is exorbitant. According to Big Cat Rescue the cost of keeping a medium sized wild cat in captivity for 2 years is about $67,000. Then you have the danger even without their claws and teeth. Do you think a tiger looks anything other than extremely sad in a cage? Or on someone’s sofa in the house? That just looks ridiculous. You see it though, some silly macho man showing off his best buddy a 400 pound tiger while watching the television.

Some people who keep tigers as pets claim they are doing their bit for conservation. Balderdash. Complete rubbish. It does nothing for conservation. Conservation is about trying to preserve tiger habitat and the tiger’s prey. If some of the extravagant expenditure on keeping pet tigers was funneled into real conservation it may make a small difference. Not that conservationists are going to win the battle against bid business involved in tiger parts. That battle is already lost I believe.

Tigers won’t become totally extinct. There will always be an inbreed, generic (moggie) tiger in a zoo somewhere.

When a person who fancies a tiger cub as pet wants to get rid of it because he is too big and eats too much someone has to pick up the pieces. Sometimes it is actual pieces. Some of these tigers probably find their way into tiger bone wine and other weird tiger products.

In 1996 Betty Young, in Arkansas, looked after 52 tigers. Some of them were housed in her home, which was reduced to a mess as expected. She has a 10 acre site. She was almost a cat hoarder only each cat was 40 times heavier.

I suppose she was just doing all she could, just like many good women do all they can to help unwanted domestic cats or look after stray and feral cats. But it was madness. It was trying to do the impossible, surely.

People breed tigers just as they breed domestic cats and thereby make matters worse. They are simply adding to the problem.

See the original story on National Geographic and my thanks to Rudolph for telling me about this. I have taken the liberty of publishing one of Mr Nichols photographs here. I hope that is OK.

P.S. Unwanted Texas tigers and Tigers for Sale and Joe Exotic.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

21 thoughts on “Tigers as Pets: The Pinnacle of Self-indulgence”

  1. I am sickened at the thought of people keeping wild animals as pets just so they can massage their own inadequate ego and show off. More to the point why are they allowed to do it? What sort of country allows an endangered species to be kept in sometimes horrific circumstances and if not horrific equally worse in someone’s house? For pities sake!

  2. People who think that owning a big cat are selfish beings. These cats are born in the wild and deserve to live and breathe in the wild.

  3. Total self indulgence and cruelty, done no doubt to try to impress people with their exotic pet. The woman in the pic can’t be compared to the women who do what they can for stray and feral cats, they truly are helping, she is indulging herself by keeping big cats captive in her hovel which is totally alien to the way these poor animals are meant to live. I have no admiration for Betty Young and her bumbling mis-care of all those tigers, I wonder how well cared for they were and how well fed.

    1. It is a mess from both ends of the problem. The misguided people who want tiger pets and the rescuer who can’t cope and who can’t give tigers what they deserve, a life in the wild.

  4. i love the wild cats but i would never domestic such beautiful animals as they belong in the wild. We have wildlife place here in Chistchurch call Orana Zoo which has all sorts of breeds of animals in safe areas.
    Im very realistic thats why prefer cats they so easy to look after and can admire their older cat generation.

    1. No respect from me for a family that always speaks with a forked tongue, if they lived the way they require others to live then maybe but fresh from a hunting trip with his feckless brother and with blood still on his hands this wet behind the ears snip of a lad talking about the evils of killing wild animals, it’s just a joke.

  5. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

    Cruel, selfish, ignorant, human beings want to ‘own’ a tiger and it makes me very angry that they can!
    Isn’t it illegal now to declaw wild cats? Surely vets don’t detooth them either now?
    Too many wild animals are ‘owned’ or used for breeding mixed species to be sold for many dollars and ‘owned’ by idiots who just ‘have to have’
    Too many animals are hunted, too many used and abused in zoos and circuses, too many experimented on, killed to be eaten!
    You name it and humans do it just because they can 🙁

  6. Michael you have simplified and demystified the topic of “BIG CATS” as pets and the hazards. I was surprised reading this article in “National Geographic” and 1996 is not too distant in the past history.In the 1950’s and 1960’s i have read of “Big Cat” cubs being sold in “Harrods” of London. I am more familiar with England than the U.S.A, having lived in England twice.As for the status of tigers,seems they are destined to extinction in the wild forests of India or at best might exist as closely “INBRED” specimens in small forests akin to big natural zoo’s. Human settlements near forest areas as well as deforestation is creating a tiger/Human conflict and just now as i am writing this article a group of hunters are busy on the trail of a “Man-Eating Tiger” in a jungle in North India link :


    The days of Jim.Corbett are long passe as the jungles no more exist as they did in the 1920’s and even upto the 1960’s.I have photographed myself with a tiger cub and a pair of full grown tigers at a Bangkok zoo, yet i have never ever seen a wild tiger in the forests of India.Here is a account of my visit to the “Bandhavgarh wild-life park” :- http://trektours.blogspot.in/

    1. Man eating tigers are usually injured or starving because their prey has been eradicated by people. Tigers usually attack people as a last resort and when they are forced to live close together. I blame people for man eating tigers. That sounds extreme but the ultimate blame rests with people.

  7. Well I thought it already was a criminal offense. And what vet would de-tooth a tiger? None of this makes any sense. And I feel sorry for circus animals. Not right.

    1. There are countless stories from The Paw Project of declawed big cats and some are detoothed and declawing can cripple them. The whole thing is an abuse. People just like to possess attractive and interesting objects and tigers are just objects to some people.

      1. He and his beloved cat lovers, ailurophiles, end so, are right. 100%. De clawing declawing is 100% wrong. As is attempting to *love* a captive Tiger. 🙁

  8. Only in a child’s mind could a lion, tiger, bobcat, panther, etc. be thought of as a “kitty”.
    It should be a criminal offense to hold any of these beautiful cats captive, be it a zoo, circus, or home.

  9. This is outrageous, and must be stopped. These animals dangerously close to extinction. You are totally right- this is not only the pinacle of self-indulgence, it is the height of arrogance and cruelty to animals.

    Thanks for posting this- educating the public about these obscene practices is one of the most powerful ways to help stop these unscupulous breeders.

    1. I love to have an American on my side on this one. Of course it isn’t just in America where this happens but wherever it happens it is totally wrong. Any normal, sensible person can see that.

      It is a typical case of human stupidity combined with that unique human quality: arrogance.

        1. I hate to say it but it is American legal laissez-faire. It does vary from state to states. Some states are fairly strict but a lot are not when it comes to keeping large wild cats species as pets or in private zoos.

    2. Omg, Jo. Michael. If you truly want to make a dent in the ignorant populaces lives, you r certainly going to have to do better than that. “we” do not need to be dumbed down to quite that extent. I’ve watched them mate, in a zoo, no less, so be *very* careful. Please? 🙂

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