Cat Outlaws. The Kitty Contraband Banned in These States

Introduction

Certain cat breeds have been banned or restricted in some states and cities across the United States. This is primarily due to concerns over public safety and the environment. Some cat breeds, like the Bengal and Savannah, are hybrids that are bred from wild cat species. This means they may retain more behaviors and traits from their wild ancestors. There are worries these cats could negatively impact native wildlife if they escaped or were released. Other concerns include these hybrid cats having potential public health risks. Additionally, some places restrict ownership of certain cat breeds in an effort to protect consumers from buying cats that may be more likely to have health and behavior issues.

Savannah Cat

The Savannah cat is a popular hybrid breed that was first created by crossing a domestic cat with an African Serval. This exotic crossbreed began in the 1980s and attained recognition from major breeding associations in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The Savannah cat is known for its tall and slender build, large ears, long legs, and brown-spotted tabby coat pattern reminiscent of its Serval ancestor.

Savannah cats are considered a newer breed that is still under development. They come in different filial generations labeled F1, F2, F3 etc, depending on how close they are to the original Serval ancestor. Early generations like F1 and F2 tend to be larger, more energetic, and more closely resemble the Serval parent. Later generations have a higher percentage of domestic cat genetics and are more docile and adapted to family life.

Some U.S. states have restrictions on owning Savannah cats, especially the F1-F3 generations that are closer to the wild Serval lineage. Acccording to the Savannah Cat Association, the states that fully prohibit owning Savannah cats include Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and New York. Other states allow Savannah ownership but with certain generation restrictions, permit requirements or specifications around neutering/spaying [1]. These laws were enacted over concerns that higher percentage Serval hybrids could potentially threaten indigenous wildlife if released or escape into the wild. However, most Savannah owners report that later generation cats are quite docile and suitable as pets when bred properly.

[1] https://savannahcatassociation.org/states-that-allow-savannah-cats/

Serval Cat

The serval cat is a medium-sized African wild cat native to sub-Saharan Africa. They are known for their large ears, long legs, and spotted coats. Servals weigh between 15 to 40 pounds and stand around 24 inches tall. They are not technically “big cats” like lions or cheetahs, but they are considered exotic cats due to their wild nature.

It is illegal to own a serval cat in many U.S. states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and New York. According to World Population Review, only 8 states allow you to own a serval cat without a permit: Alabama, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Servals are not recommended as pets. They have strong hunting instincts and can be unpredictable. Servals are classified as “dangerous wild animals” in many places because they can injure or even kill humans. Restrictions are in place because servals require specialized care and large enclosures that the average person cannot provide.

Bengal Cat

The Bengal cat is a breed that was developed by crossbreeding domestic cats with Asian Leopard Cats. According to Wikipedia, “Bengals resulted from the crossbreeding of domestic cats with the Asian leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis).” (Bengal cat).

Bengal cats are known for their exotic spotted or marbled coats and lively, energetic personalities. However, because of their lineage and partial wild ancestry, some states have restrictions on owning Bengal cats.

According to The Pet Zealot, “It is legal to own F4 and later-generation Bengals in the following states: Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Pennsylvania” (Bengal Cat Legal and Illegal States 2023). Earlier generations like F1 and F2 are illegal in certain states due to concerns over behavior and aggressiveness from the Asian Leopard Cat ancestry.

In summary, Bengal cats are prohibited in some states if they are only a few generations removed from the original crossbreeding with Asian Leopard Cats. However, F4 and later generations are legal in most states with the exceptions noted above.

Maine Coon Cat

The Maine Coon is a large, rugged cat breed that originated in the state of Maine.[1] They are known for their large size, plush coats, and hardy natures. Maine Coons were popular mousers on farms and were bred for their hunting abilities and cold weather tolerance. Maine Coons are generally friendly, intelligent, and make great family pets.

Maine Coons are legal to own in most states, with a few exceptions. In Hawaii[2], the state Department of Agriculture has banned the importation of Maine Coon cats due to concern that they could negatively impact native wildlife. New York City also has restrictions on owning Maine Coons unless the owner obtains a permit under the city’s wild/exotic animal regulations.

Overall, the Maine Coon is considered a domestic cat breed and does not face major restrictions in most areas. Their adaptable personalities and family-friendly reputation make them a popular choice for many cat owners across the United States.

[1] https://medium.com/@cats_maine/is-it-legal-to-own-a-maine-coon-cat-f4aeaffd4832

[2] https://www.mainecooncentral.com/are-maine-coon-cats-legal/

F1 Hybrid Cat

An F1 hybrid cat is the offspring of a domestic cat and a wild cat, such as a serval, Asian leopard cat, jungle cat or African wildcat. The F1 stands for “filial 1,” which indicates it is the first hybrid cross between a domestic cat and a wild cat. F1 hybrid cats inherit half of their genes from the domestic parent and half from the wild parent.

Some of the most popular F1 hybrid cats include the Bengal cat, created by crossing a domestic cat with an Asian leopard cat, and the Savannah cat, created by crossing a domestic cat with an African serval. Other F1 hybrids like the Chausie and Jungle Bob are less common.

The temperament and appearance of an F1 hybrid can vary greatly depending on which wild cat was used. For example, Savannah cats tend to be tall with long legs, large ears, and exotic spotted coats. Meanwhile, Bengal cats often have vividly marked coats with leopard-like spots or marbling.

F1 hybrid cats are legal in most U.S. states, but some states restrict or ban ownership. For example, F1 hybrid cats are illegal in Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Massachusetts, Nebraska, and New York City. Other states may require a permit or license. Regulations can also vary by municipality.

The concern with F1 hybrids is that they are closer genetically to their wild parent than a highly hybridized cat, and may potentially retain more wild tendencies. However, most F1 cats exhibit domestic temperaments if socialized properly. Reputable breeders strive to produce gentle, friendly F1 hybrids. Still, hybrid laws seek to protect public safety and native wildlife populations from potentially negative impacts.

Sources:

State Ownership Laws

Hybrid Laws — Agato Savannah Cats

Chausie

The Chausie is a relatively new domestic cat breed that originated in the late 1960s. They were developed by breeding a Jungle Cat to a domestic cat. The Chausie breed has a muscular build, long legs, and a short coat that can be solid, grizzled, ticked, or spotted. While Chausies are athletic and intelligent cats, they are not considered fully domesticated and have some of the wild instincts of their Jungle Cat ancestor.

When it comes to legality, Chausies are banned in New York City and at least 19 other states, according to https://a-z-animals.com/blog/list-of-banned-animals-illegal-to-own-in-the-us/. States such as Iowa and Georgia prohibit the possession of felines that are more than 50% non-domestic species. Since Chausies are bred from a domestic and wild cat, they often fall under these state restrictions.

Caracal

The caracal is a medium-sized wild cat native to Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and India. They are characterized by tufted ears and reddish-tan fur. Caracals are illegal to own as pets in most states, with only 12 states allowing private ownership. These states include Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and South Carolina.

Even in the states where caracals are legal, ownership often requires permits andlicenses. For example, Florida requires a Class III permit to own non-native wildlife like caracals. Many cities and counties also prohibit owning exotic pets like caracals despite statewide laws.

The rarity and expense of caracals make them undesirable pets for most owners. They typically cost $1,500-$3,000 to purchase. Care and feeding can cost thousands per year. Caracals also have special environmental and dietary needs in captivity. Due to these factors, caracal ownership remains very limited even where legal.

Asian Leopard Cat

The Asian Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) is a small wild cat native to South, Southeast, and East Asia. While not inherently domesticated, it is bred in captivity and hybridized with domestic cats to create the Bengal breed of cats. The Asian Leopard Cat is similar in appearance to a leopard or an ocelot.

Some key details on the Asian Leopard Cat:

  • It has a tan or yellow coat with dark spots and rosettes.
  • Weighs 5-15 lbs as an adult.
  • Primarily solitary and nocturnal.
  • Omnivorous diet consisting of small mammals, birds, amphibians, insects, and fruit.

The Asian Leopard Cat is banned or restricted in some parts of the United States due to concerns over hybridization with domestic cats. For example, possession of an Asian Leopard Cat is illegal in California without a permit 1. Their hybrid offspring, such as the Bengal cat, may face certain bans or restrictions as well depending on the filial generation.

Conclusion

In summary, certain exotic cat breeds like the Savannah, Serval, Bengal, Maine Coon, F1 Hybrid, Chausie, Caracal, and Asian Leopard Cat are illegal to own in some states in the United States. States have enacted laws banning ownership of exotic cats due to concerns about public safety and the welfare of the animals. Large exotic cats have the potential to seriously injure or kill people. They also often require specialized care and environments that the average person cannot properly provide. Restricting ownership helps protect the public as well as the cats themselves. However, laws vary significantly by state, with some banning all exotic cats as pets, while others impose certain restrictions like permitting F4 generation or later Savannah cats. Anyone interested in owning one of these exotic breeds should thoroughly research their state’s laws first.

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