I’m a tiger, I’m a tiger….

Browsing my social media feed recently, I came across a picture of a Bengal kitten who was absolutely adorable. It got me wondering how many people would see that photograph and want to own the tiny tiger in the picture, which led to a feeling of concern.

Bengal cats are stunning animals. They’re graceful, strong, and athletic. They’re also the result of a cross breeding between an Asian Leopard cat and a domestic cat; hybrids.

Hybrids are a complicated subject to me. Domestic cats already have very obvious “wild” traits still inherent in their behaviour and a lot of these are the reason people contact behaviourists because coexisting is becoming a struggle.

Territorial behaviours such as scent marking using scratching and toileting are already things we as cat carers need to be aware of. If the cat is a hybrid,  it’s possible they’ll struggle with this kind of issue that little bit more. The even more complex part is, as hybrids it probably not advisable they’re given outdoor access so as their carer, it’s the humans responsibility to ensure all their requirements are met to lessen the likelihood of damage or disruption in the home.

The reason for this is simple, non-hybrid cats are already predisposed to territory disputes in heavily populated areas. (Especially if their humans leave them unneutered.) The possibility of a hybrid encountering another cat and not reacting in a territorial manner is fairly unlikely. Unfortunately, due to the rise in popularity with these breeds, and possibly a lack of information regarding how their care advisably differs slightly to non hybrid cats, a lot of people allow them outdoor access regardless.

I appreciate the beauty and appeal of a hybrid. They’re remarkably intelligent, usually very charismatic animals. But I feel we need to recognise that cats will always have a degree of instinctual behaviour, and hybrids will exhibit that even more so. We’ve domesticated felines, and by doing so we absolutely should recognise the responsibility that entails. In the case of hybrids, that means learning more about the breed, their very specific requirements and acting accordingly.

Before anyone takes a cat on of any type, it’s wise to really consider if you’re in a position to be equipped to provide what’s needed. In the case of hybrids, that means look further than the stunning aesthetics and take time to learn about their “wild side” too.

Return to the wild…..

(Source: Huffington Post)