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7 Things to Consider Before Adopting an Exotic Cat

February 15, 2021

Have you always dreamed of having an exotic cat, such as a lion or tiger, for a pet? This may sound very glamorous in theory. However, the reality may not be as appealing. While you can find exotic cats for sale, you should definitely think twice before buying one. A local vet lists a few things to think about below.

Price

Exotic cats are quite expensive. They can actually cost thousands of dollars. The exact price will vary on the type of kitty you are getting. Mid-sized cats, such as Servals and Savannahs, may range from about $1700 to $3000. An ocelot can go for as much as $15,000, while tiger cubs (which are now illegal in many places) can cost $7500.

Space

Your typical housecat will do just fine in a smaller home, such as an apartment. Exotic cats, however, are bigger and more energetic, and need much more room. You may need to build a fairly sizable enclosure for your pretty pet. Keep in mind that a cat won’t be happy in a bare pen or a small cage. You’ll need to provide plenty of furniture and toys, as well as greenery, such as trees and bushes.

Laws

The laws on owning exotic pets vary wildly, depending on where you are. For example, Savannah cats are illegal for people to own in several states, but not in others. If you have an HOA, you may also need to look at their regulations. This is also something for you to consider if you think you may eventually move to another area.

Veterinary Care

Another thing that is crucial is finding a good veterinarian that is experienced with exotic cats. Most—if not all—veterinarians are well-trained when it comes to providing care for domestic cats. Exotic cats, however, have different needs.

Ethics

We understand the appeal for exotic pets: they’re absolutely beautiful, unique, and fascinating. Unfortunately, many of them just aren’t well-suited to captivity. This goes for kitties, too. Consider donating to a reputable rescue instead.

Behavior

If you’re thinking that an exotic cat will act like a giant housecat, well, you may want to think again. Some don’t take to litterboxes, while others dislike being handled. For example, ocelots really don’t enjoy domestication. They tend to ignore commands … even more than the average housecat does.

Compromise

Still debating? You may want to consider a Bengal. While these adorable, charismatic kitties are considered exotic, they’re no bigger than the average housecat, and they have tons of charisma!

Our Advice on Things to Consider Before Adopting an Exotic Cat in 2024

What specific dietary requirements do exotic cats have?

Exotic cats have specific dietary needs that differ significantly from domestic cats due to their wild heritage. They require a diet high in protein with appropriate amounts of fat, mirroring what they would consume in the wild. This typically involves raw or minimally processed meats, including muscle meat, organs, and bones. Commercial diets formulated for exotic felines can be used to ensure balanced nutrition. It is crucial to consult with a veterinarian experienced in exotic pet care to tailor a diet plan that meets the nutritional demands of a specific exotic cat species.

Are there any zoonotic diseases that exotic cats can transmit to humans?

Yes, exotic cats can transmit several zoonotic diseases to humans. These include rabies, a serious viral infection; toxoplasmosis, caused by a parasitic protozoan; and various types of bacterial infections, such as salmonella and campylobacteriosis. Parasitic infections like hookworms and giardiasis are also possible. Additionally, exotic cats can carry fungal infections like ringworm. Due to these risks, strict hygiene and proper preventive health measures, including regular veterinary check-ups and vaccinations, are essential when owning or handling exotic cats.

Are there any specific environmental enrichment requirements for exotic cats to ensure their physical and psychological well-being?

Exotic cats require extensive environmental enrichment to maintain their physical and psychological health. This includes large, secure enclosures that mimic their natural habitat with various features such as trees, bushes, and rocks for climbing and hiding. Providing a range of interactive toys and frequent changes to their environment helps keep them mentally stimulated. Activities that encourage natural behaviors, like hunting simulations, are crucial. Regular interaction with caregivers is also important, though it should respect the cat’s comfort and natural behaviors to avoid stress.

Are there any specific training techniques or approaches that are more effective for exotic cats compared to domestic cats?

Training exotic cats requires approaches that acknowledge their unique nature and instincts compared to domestic cats. Positive reinforcement techniques, such as offering treats or other rewards for desired behavior, are effective. It’s crucial to begin training during the kitten stages for better adaptability. Unlike domestic cats, exotic cats often respond less consistently to commands and are less motivated by human approval, requiring more patience and repetition. Using methods that engage their natural behaviors, like scent tracking or agility exercises, can also be more effective in keeping them mentally and physically stimulated.

What are the most common health issues or genetic disorders affecting exotic cats in captivity?

Exotic cats in captivity often face several health issues and genetic disorders. Common problems include dental diseases, such as periodontal disease, due to diet and genetics. Obesity can also be prevalent due to improper diet and insufficient space for adequate exercise. Genetic disorders such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a heart condition, are seen in certain breeds like Bengals. Furthermore, exotic cats may suffer from kidney diseases and hereditary defects due to inbreeding. Regular veterinary check-ups and specific care tailored to their needs are essential to manage these health challenges.

Do you have questions about your cat’s health or care? Contact us, your local vet clinic in Waterdown, ON!

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