UK law on keeping wild cats and wildcat hybrids like the Savannah cat

THIS IS THE UK LAW ON KEEPING WILD CAT HYBRIDS AND WILD CATS. FOR MOST CAT OWNERS YOU ONLY HAVE TO KNOW THAT YOU DON’T NEED A LICENCE FOR F2 AND LOWER (i.e. F3) SAVANNAH AND BENGAL CATS.

UPDATE 27-MAY-2020: There is a news story of a supposed large Savannah cat escaping from a property in billionaires’ row – Hampstead Garden Suburb in north London.From the picture I’d assess the cat as a serval, not a Savannah. So it is a true medium-sized wild cat. The markings are too contrasty and the spots to dark to be a Savannah in my opinion. If it is an Savanah it would be an F1 and a license would be required in both instances.

The Savannah cat is in the news again because a F2 (second filial) Savannah cat has escaped his enclosure and gone missing in Bristol, UK. The cat belongs to Laura Page and she’s warning people not to approach her cat. This is a large domestic cat. In fact the F1 and F2 Savannah cats are the biggest domestic cats in the world. But they are not as domesticated as your standard moggie and there are rules in the UK about owning wildcat hybrids such as Savannah cats and wild cats of all species.

You may need a licence to keep a wild cat or wild cat hybrid.

UK law on keeping wildcat hybrid and wild cat species. This is a screenshot of the law. Please visit the actual page by clicking this link.

Licence

You’ll know if you need a license by reading the legislation called The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 (Modification) (No.2) Order 2007. Note: Please always check the law as things change due to incoming politicians.

It refers to the cats that you’ll need a licence for. You can apply to your local council for a license to keep a wild animal including hybrids of wild animals.

Regarding wild cat hybrids, you’ll need a licence to keep a first filial (F1) Savannah cat. This is a domestic cat whose father is a serval and whose mother is a domestic cat. You don’t need a licence for second generation Savannah cats (F2). These are cats whose father is an F1 Savannah cat and whose mother is a domestic cat.

So if you want an F2 Savannah cat you can buy one in the UK at great expense and keep her without a licence but beware. You’ll have to provide a lot of input so don’t take adopting one of these cats lightly. The lady who lost her F2 Savannah kept her cat in an enclosure which the cat escaped from. Think about it: a domestic cat with a lot of wild blood confined 24/7. It does not work for me unless you are a zoo.

The only other wildcat hybrid commonly encountered in homes is the Bengal cat. There are F1 Bengal cats. The same rules apply to Bengal cats. So, to recap, you’ll need a licence for an F1 Bengal cat but not an F2 Bengal cat.

Any Savannah or Bengal cat of F3 to F5 and beyond are excepted from the need to obtain a license.

As you can see the license is required for F1s because they are deemed to be potentially dangerous as if they were wild cats. This is not strictly true because I have met some great F1 Savannah cats and they are not dangerous but the law has to be set out to protect cat owners and cats.

If you do come across a F1 wildcat hybrid from these wild cats: the wild cat, the pallas cat, the little spotted cat, the Geoffroy’s cat, the kodkod, the bay cat, the sand cat, the black-footed cat, the rusty-spotted cat, you can keep one without a license.

Wild Cat Species

As for wild cat species (i.e not hybrids but the actual wild cat species) you don’t need a license for the following cats: the wild cat, the pallas cat, the little spotted cat, the Geoffroy’s cat, the kodkod, the bay cat, the sand cat, the black-footed cat, the rusty-spotted cat.

I find this very strange because these cats can be more dangerous than F1 Savannah cats. The black-footed cat is very fierce for example and the world’s greatest feline hunter. The Scottish wild cat is known to be incredible fierce and independent. So they have the law wrong. Although the Scottish wild cat is extinct in the wild as the only ones left are hybrids ironically.

You’ll need a license for all other wild cat species including: the bobcat, caracal, cheetah, jaguar, leopard, lion, lynx, ocelot, puma, serval and tiger.

It is complicated. I hope this helps. You can read about Savannah cats, Bengal cats and all the wild cat species on this site. Please use the search facility if there is one on the site (it may have to be removed for technical reasons).

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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