In the state of California, five animal welfare organizations are pleading with state officials to ban the breeding of so-called hybrid cats. These cats are domestic breeds interbred with wild cats and the animal advocates argue that they are not suited to be pets.
Hybrids are larger than the average house cat and more prone to exhibit aggressive behavior such as biting or spraying. This increases the risk of abandonment for owners who are not prepared for their wild behavior, forgetting that they are indeed at least half wild cat. Most animal shelters are not even equipped to take care of these wild hybrids, leading them to end up on the street more often than not.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund spearheaded a petition to help ban the breeding of these animals, stating the risks as well as the fact that there is no approved rabies vaccine for hybrids and that the animals are more likely to have serious medical conditions compared to domestic cat breeds. In addition, hybrids cats often have amplified hunting prowess that threatens native wildlife and humans if they are released outdoors.
Hybrids were popularized by celebrities such as Kourtney Kardashian and Kristen Stewart who made cat owner seek wilder looking pets. This resulted in breeders seeking to create exotic-looking pets that they can sell for thousands of dollars. The most common hybrids are the Bengal that is a cross between domestic short hair and the Asian Leopard Cat, and the Savannah, a cross between a domestic cat and the African Serval.
These beautiful looking cats have become big business in California, but the practice is only regulated in 21 states and only banned in only 5. So while the animal advocates may win in California, breeders may find open prairie in other states. This is unfortunate for unprepared owners and the animals in question that will end up on the streets after their initial allure has faded.