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Hybrid Cat Breeds

Ocicat, Hybrid cat breedOcicatPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Justin Brough

Cat hybrids, both large and small, make spunky attractive cat companions!

Hybrid breed cats are developed by crossing two different breeds or species of cat. They can be a cross between two breeds of domestic cat, or a cross between a domestic cat and a wild cat. Hybrids are unique in appearance, very inquisitive, and have high energy. They can have intriguing colors and patterning to their coats. They can be small, or they can be some of the largest domestic cat breeds. Hybrids are relatively recent, especially when compared to the domestic natural cat breeds that have developed over many years. Some cat hybrids are recognized by cat registries, yet a number of the more recently developed breeds are not.

Hybrid cat breeds are as unique in personality as they are in their appearance. This is due to the traits inherited from their parentage. Hybrid crosses between two breeds of domestic cat will be most similar to other types of domestic cat breeds. Crosses that include wild cats are the most variable. Incredible as it may seem, the Savannah cat, a domestic cat crossed with a wild African cat, is considered to be one of the friendliest and most loyal pets, even more so than ordinary cat breeds. On the other hand, other types of wild cat hybrid crosses will display very strong traits from their wild side.

The list of cats below includes many of the popular hybrid cat breeds, and is expanding. Each cat guide provides the history and development of the hybrid cat along with a description, care, and a picture. Make sure you understand the type of cat your are getting, and that it is the kind of pet you want. To own a cat is a great pleasure and extraordinary experience indeed, but keep in mind that hybrid cats are not only unique, but are a unique "breed" of pet. Hybrids are not for everyone.

For more about keeping a pet cat, see:
Cat Care: How to Take Care of a Cat

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Hybrid Cat Development

Hybrid cats are those that are bred from two other cat breeds specifically to create the new hybrid breed. This can be two different cat breeds and sometime even 3 or more breeds, such as is the case with the ocicat. In the wild, there are at least 36 different species of cats, however all breeds of domesticated cats, including hybrids, are from the same ancestral species of wildcat - the African Wildcat.

There is a distinction made between "man-made" hybrids and "natural" hybrids. Natural hybrids occur when a domestic cat (or feral cat) breeds with a wild cat species. Man-made hybrids are when humans choose specifically to breed two different breeds of domesticated cats. The three categories of hybrid cats include: the wild cat/domestic cat mix, the domestic cat/domestic cat mix, and the wild cat/wild cat mix. Hybrids are a relatively small percentage of the cat population, but they are some of the most well-known cats due to their uniqueness.

Other terms occasionally used to reference particular types of hybrid cats:

  • Supercat - Super Cat
    The term "supercats" are those cats closely descended from wild animals. These still retain many traits of their wild heritage and require the most dedicated keeper. Take caution as they can potentially be dangerous to other pets and animals.
  • Designer Cat
    The term "designer cats" is a relatively new breed designation, and not without a bit of controversy. This is a term applied to cat breeds that are bred with stunning characteristics. These are considered "lifestyle pets" and often bred for a very particular market or type of cat keeper. Cats types referred to as designers can be either a a hybrid cat breed or a cat body-type mutations. You may see designer cats making their appearance at some cat shows, but many do not yet have a recognized status with cat registries.

Types of Hybrid Cats

Hybrid cats can occur naturally. Natural hybrids are either a cross between two different species of wild cat or a cross between a wild cat and a feral domestic cat. Hybrids can also be man-made. This is done with human intervention, combining two different domestic cat breeds.

There are three categories of hybrid cats; a domestic cat crossed with another breed of domestic cat, a domestic cat crossed with a wild cat, and a wild cat crossed with another species of wild cat. When wild cats are part of the cross breeding, some very large hybrid cat breeds result. The cats included here feature the domestic cat/domestic cat mixes and the wild cat/domestic cat mixes:

Domestic cat/domestic cat mixes:

  • Havana Brown Cat
    The Havana Brown cat originated in Thailand and is also sometimes called the Swiss Mountain Cat. It originated by breeding black domestic cats with a recessive brown gene with chocolate point or seal point Siamese cats. This gives the appearance of an all-brown Siamese cat.
  • Ocicat Cat
    The Ocicat was first developed in the 1960's and is actually a cross of three different domestic cat breeds. It came from a traditional Chocolate Point Siamese male and a hybrid female. The hybrid female was from a Seal Point Siamese and and Abyssian. It has a typical domestic cat body build with a "wild" looking markings.
  • Oriental Shorthair Cat
    This breed is essentially a Siamese Cat, but without the Siamese markings. It was developed when breeders sought to bring out colorings in Siamese other than the stark Seal Point markings.
  • Tonkinese Cat
    The Tonkinese Cats are a cross between Siamese Cats and Burmese Cats, and was originally called the Golden Siamese. A lot of people say this breed has all the good qualities of the two breeds and inherited none of the bad ones!

Wild cat/domestic cat mixes:

  • Bengal Cat
    The Bengal cat is a newer hybrid breed and is a cross between a domestic cat and a wild Asian Leopard. It must be separated from the parent Asian Leopard by at least 3-4 generations to be considered a domestic cat. This breed was first developed by Judy Sugden in 1963. The Bengal has a good domestic cat personality and temperament, but also has the wild looks that make it so fascinating, with the spotted back and belly. They also tend to be larger than typical domestic cats due to their wild cat genetics.
  • Chausie Cat, also known as the Stone Cougar
    The Chausie hybrid cats are a cross between a domestic stripped cat and a Jungle Cat known as Felis chaus. They are large and muscular, with a broad chest and long legs, and usually black or gray in color. This breed first appeared in the late 1960's. They are accepted by The International Cat Association (TICA) in 2001 and can be shown in the Advanced New Breed Class.
  • Savannah Cat
    The Savannah cats are a cross between a domestic cat and a wild African cat. This breed first appeared in the late 1980s. They were accepted by The International Cat Association (TICA) in 2001 and can be shown in the Advanced New Breed Class. People say this domestic hybrid is a great cat to keep as a pet. The hybrid savannah cat is remarkably social, friendly, and loyal. They are generally taller and stronger than ordinary domestic cats. The appearance of their fur and coat depends on their parentage.
  • Pixie Bob Cat
    The Pixie Bob hybrid cats are said to be a cross between a female domestic cat and a male bobcat, and occur naturally. These are large, heavy cats originally discovered by Carol Ann Brewer in 1985. Their coat is were discovered by who successfully discovered their origin naming the first hybrid she discovered as pixie. They have a wooly, spotted coat, with the short tail and ears of the bobcat. They are said to be very intelligent, but nice and friendly.
  • Toyger Cat
    The Toyger is a "designer cat and its name is a combination of "toy" and "tiger". Toyger hybrid cats are a cross between a domestic cat and a Bengal hybrid cat. This breed was first developed by Judy Sugden in the late 1980s. They have a miniature tiger look to them, but the "designer" coloring and patterning of its coat can vary depending on its domestic cat parent.

Hybrid Cats as Pets

Hybrids cats can be exciting and enjoyable pets for the right people, but they are not for everyone. Before getting a hybrid cat breed, it is strongly suggested you understand its behavior and requirements. With hybrids, more than any other breed of cat, it's very important to provide the cat with right environment. It's equally important that you get the right cat breed for you and your family.

  • Domestic cat/domestic cat mixes
    Most hybrid cats that are crosses between two breeds of domestic cat are readily available as pets, and in most areas of the world. They have similar care to other domestic cats or at least relatively simple care if you know what to do.

    In certain areas of the world and certain states of the United States, some hybrids are banned, particularly in the state of Georgia, the city of New York, and Australia.
  • Wild cat/domestic cat mixes:
    Some hybrids that are wild cat/domestic cat mixes can be difficult to care for. They can have more "wild" personalities depending on their backgrounds. Some of these cats don't get along easily with other cats. They also might not eat commercially prepared cat food. and/or they make take a liking to ruining your furniture!

    There can be many issues when breeding different breeds and/or species together due to differences in anatomy and gestational periods. Therefore, it is advised that unless you are trained in breeding these cats and are very familiar with it, that you should probably not breed them. Even when doing everything "right", kitten mortality rates can still sometimes be high.

    These cats can also have behavioral problems not typical to most domestic cats, they can have digestive issues, and many cats and kittens are still abandoned today, even hybrids. Many people believe they should not be bred at all, and that creating hybrids in the first place is an irresponsible process.

Hybrid Cats Availability

Some hybrids can be quite pricey due to their rarity and uniqueness, especially the "exotic" ones, such as the Bengal which comes from a wild/domestic combination. Even though they may cost a lot to purchase, there is considerable controversy over them among the cat organizations. Currently, the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) does not recognize hybrids as breeds at all, however some others do and are starting to, such as the International Cat Association (TICA).

Individual states, counties, or cities my have restrictions or licensing requirements for keeping hybrid cat breeds. Be sure to check with the authorities in your area before obtaining a hybrid, especially those developed with wild cats.

References

Author: Jasmine Brough