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Everyones stance on Exotic cat ownership

post #1 of 78
Thread Starter 
Hey, im new here, and I just wanted to ask you all a question. What is your look on the ownership of exotic big cats. I mean tigers, leopards, jaguars, and the like.
Do you think it is inhumane, and cruel to keep such a large animal out of its natural habitat? And If not, please feel equally free to post your reasons and motives.


post #2 of 78
Well, I believe that they should be in their natural habitat. Look at people who were attacked by their tigers - Roy, that guy in NYC who had the tiger in his apartment. Its just not right and its gotta be very stressful for them. They are beautiful, and its better for them to be in where they belong. It makes me so sad to see them in capitivity.
post #3 of 78
I don't believe that anyone, not properly trained and licensed, should keep exotics, of ANY species.

There are way too many unregulated people keeping animals, that they will not or do not know how to care for properly.

Last week, National Geographic Explorer aired a show on MSNBC, called "America's Big Cat Crisis". It documented several instances of people keeping big cats, that had to be removed by rescue and sanctuary organizations. At one place, in South Dakota, 26 big cats had to be removed from horrendous conditions. The owner had moved there, after being cited in Colorado, for improper care of these cats. He is facing felony animal cruelty charges. Many of those cats had open running sores, eye infections and were extremely malnourished.

Another couple were run out of three counties in Arkansas, because they were keeping three full-grown tigers. The neighbors became concerned, when one of them escaped. Neither humans nor the cat were injured but, the owners had to move the cats. In their new location, someone cut the fence, allowing all three cats to escape. They turned up, in a neighbor's yard and wanted to play. When police and emergency workers arrived, the man begged them not to shoot the cats. They were shot with tranquilizer darts but, one of the cats had a bad reaction and died. The remaining cats are now at a sanctuary.

It is too easy to buy exotics. You can buy them on the Internet. While not a fan of Big Government, this is a case, where Federal regulation is needed. States have a patchwork of laws and people who do not properly care for their animals can just move to another state, with less restrictive laws.
post #4 of 78
I see no problem with it, as long as you do the following. Make sure that the cat is NOT taken from the wild. If you do have one of the large cats, like a tiger, make sure you have lots of room, not kept in a small pen. You have to be a responsible and loving cat owner, one who would have the exotic because you love cats and not just owning it just for show. My wife and I have a Bobcat, she was not taken from the wild, but aquired through a breeder. She lives in our home with 7 other cats and gets along very well with us and them. Bobcats however, do not get as big as tigers and the other large wild cats. She will grow to 30 or 40 pounds with males being a little larger.
post #5 of 78
Welcome to the site Cougar! We welcome discussions like this at TCS, but the IMO forum is better suited than The Cat Lounge for this type of discussion.

The nature of this discussion is likely to be one of (mature, good natured ) debate, and the IMO Forum was created for just that.

post #6 of 78
BTW, I echo the opinions of Kellye and Cindy. Domestic cats can survive well in the wild - but in the end, they are just that. Domestic Cats. Wild cats should not be confined to domestic life. For their health, safety and benefit - and ours.

I'm glad Amber the bobcat is happy and getting along fine with family and other felines. I'm sure there are cases where it seems to work. But that's not my issue here. I don't think wild animals should be bred as domestic pets.

There are more than enough homeless domestic cats and problems related thereto. IMO.

Although, I should add that I don't believe that wild animals living in some type of captivity is by definition inhumane. I think there is a very important role for zoos, circuses, and even shows - for introducing these amazing animals to people, for helping to educate people about them, and for aiding our understanding of these animals, etc. But I do think they belong in their natural environment and that while some homes may provide these animals the space, care and environment that they need, there are far too many people who can't even properly care for a domestic cat let alone a wild cat.
post #7 of 78
Thread Starter 
Interesting opinions. I myself believe that they should not be availible for purchase by anyone who can scavange up the money. Some tigers like to have territorys up to 80 square miles, and theres no way a residential area can provide that sort of space. Im a bit worried about their natural habitats too though. With several species nearing extinction, genetic diversity will be an issue, and we might have to resort to cross breading and what not.

Amber, I see bobcats, ocelots, and wildcat hybrids as a different story altogether. They shouldnt be taken from the wild, nor bred for domestic purposes, but the two will probably always exist. In any case getting one from an already domestic raising would not be as bad, in my opinion. As long as there well cared for, I think smaller exotic cats can bring happiness to people.
Also, Amber, if you dont mind sharing, how does your bobcat behave compared to dom. house cats? Similar, or more of a wild instinct.

Thanks for the replies,

Peace out,

PS: Thanks for moving the thread Guess I should have looked around a bit more.
post #8 of 78
Here in Tucson, we have a lot of instances of bobcats turning up in people's yards. As the metro area expands, homes are encroaching more and more, into the cats' territory. Generally, they wander in, hang around for a while, have a drink and/ or a snack (pet food left outside) and go on their way. So far, the homeowners have been content to watch the bobcats and take pictures, through the windows.

A few months ago, a man found a bobcat cub and brought it home to his apartment. When the cub began acting like a wild animal (big surprise - DUH) and trashing the apartment, he called the authorities. After a lot of thrashing around and more apartment trashing, the cub was captured and taken to a rehab facility. Unfortunately, the bobcat had bitten the jerk and had to be euthanized, for rabies testing. Fortunately, he has been prosecuted for taking an animal, from the wild. All wild animals are protected, in this state.

In addition, the only animals, that it is legal to own, are domestic pets and livestock. Only zoos, licensed performers, research facilities and licensed wildlife rehabilitators may possess exotics. This includes ALL big cats, venomous snakes and non- captive bred reptiles. Even some insects and arachnids are protected, as they are unique to our area.
post #9 of 78
Sorry to say this, but I am against exotic cat ownership. They are considered "wild" so they have no business living in a "domestic" environment.True, humans are encroaching in their homes, but is that a good excuse to say that they can become pets?
Once I watched a local TV show, where a rich guy showed off his "tiger" cub. My impression was he was telling the world he was so "macho". But I am sure that once he gets tired of his 'pet' or his 'pet' becomes too hard to handle it will be so easy to just shoot the poor animal & get another one as fashion dictates!
post #10 of 78
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by yayi
Sorry to say this, but I am against exotic cat ownership. They are considered "wild" so they have no business living in a "domestic" environment.True, humans are encroaching in their homes, but is that a good excuse to say that they can become pets?
Once I watched a local TV show, where a rich guy showed off his "tiger" cub. My impression was he was telling the world he was so "macho". But I am sure that once he gets tired of his 'pet' or his 'pet' becomes too hard to handle it will be so easy to just shoot the poor animal & get another one as fashion dictates!
True, true some people only own them for the sake of bragging rights. I also think that there are some out there that really like the animals, and would be able to care for them if they owned a massive area of land.
post #11 of 78
I say if you have the money and a site big enough to house say a tiger, why not?...well as long as it was aquired legally, that is not taken from the wild.
I hear a fully grown tiger eats about 30kgs of meat a day,needs a huge recreational area, and don't forget the vet fees
post #12 of 78
This is upsetting me terribly! Please, wild,exotic animals are NOT toys! Let's say you are one of those people who are rich, own MASSIVE tract of land, and you have this thing with exotic cats. So you won't take them from the wild but from a breeder! WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE? The point is THEY WERE TAKEN FROM THE WILD.
post #13 of 78
I think in today's reality, conservation groups and zoos have to take on exotic species in order to keep the species alive and for educational purposes. In the wild, many of these species are on the verge of extinction because of poachers, deforestation etc.

To just keep these creatures in the wild, will not keep them from becoming extinct. But I do not believe an average animal lover should be able to own such an exotic species. I think this should be allowed only to qualified people who have the educational and knowledge backgroud to properly care for these creatures.

I did a google search and there are many sites where you can buy exotics. To me this is very scary, since people, just because they have the money, will buy them for bragging rights and the animals will suffer in the process. Others people who truly love animals may also buy them, but then become overwhelmed with the care that is necessary.

There needs to be strict laws that will make such ownership a lengthy process and not allow someone to pick up an exotic because it is the 'flavour' of the month. It's a disgrace to the animal and the legitimate preservation groups who are working to save them.
post #14 of 78
Hmmm, this is turning into something bigger than I thought would happen. Cougar, to answer your question. Yes, Amber does act just like a domestic, but with A LOT more energy. She greats us at the door when we come home with loud purrs. Loves to go for rides in the car. Loves her toys and the games of chase I play with her. In fact, she is more affectionate than a few of my domestics. No, owning her IS NOT for everyone, they are a lot of work, but for me, she is and I am by no means rich. I did plenty of research before even thinking of buying her. I did not get her as a status symbol. Amber is 100% Bobcat, no hybrid. I must state here again that Amber was not taken from the wild. You must never take a Bobcat kitten (A Bobcat's young are called kittens, not cubs) from the wild. It is not lost or abandoned from it's mother. This would be true for all wild cats.
Now for me, no, I would never own a tiger. You could be injured by a tiger just by it's friendly play. And I would not want to keep it caged up. As for the circus and licensed performers, I say NO. No beautiful animal like that should be in a circus or show. That is far more terrible than anyone owning one as a pet. I know some people say there are to many homeless domestic cats in the world. This is so true, but it will not change until all people become responsible owners of their cats. Spaying and neutering should be mandatory. I have 7 other cats, including one that was found thrown away by a dumpster when she was a kitten and another that was adopted from a shelter at the age of 10. No matter how you may feel about owning a wild or "exotic" cat, you must think of this. If it wasn't for someone keeping a wild cat as a pet, we would never have our beloved domestic cats that we have today. Yes, they were wild at one time.
post #15 of 78
Yes Amber is cute now that she is little, but what about when she is grown? You may have not taken for from the wild, but you can bet the exotic breeder took her mom or one like her. You are going to have to, as she grows quell hundreds of years of genetic traits in her. She will want to roam, she will get bored, her claws will get huge and she could attack you. No matter how much love you have given to her, she cannot stop being a wild animal. Then, when it is much to late you will have to depend on people such as my friend Nikki who takes in exotic animals that have grown to big, and out of the "oh she is cute stages." She can eat your cats for lunch and not even think about it.

A lady down the road also had a bobcat. She has her entire bedroom set up as a miniature woodlands, and a huge wire enclosure outside for this cat as well. When it was a cub it was cute and she loved it oh so much, but as it grew so did the destructive power of those paws and claws, so she had it declawed (a sad fact that happens to the wild cats in captivity) But that didn't stop it, and it started trashing the house and biting. She ended up not being able to handle this cat and ended up destroying it instead- euthanizing it. Wild cats do not belong in captivity, and they are most certainly owned for bragging rights, unless the person who owns them works within the zoological community, I say, leave them out in the wild or in zoos and breeding programs, but never consider them as pets, because they never can be.

My friend Nikki's websiteWildTalk

By the way, while caring for these beasts, Nikki has been mauled more times than she cares to remember- and she knows what she is doing.
post #16 of 78
Originally posted by Kiwideus
Well, I believe that they should be in their natural habitat. Look at people who were attacked by their tigers - Roy, that guy in NYC who had the tiger in his apartment. Its just not right and its gotta be very stressful for them. They are beautiful, and its better for them to be in where they belong. It makes me so sad to see them in capitivity.
I totally agree
post #17 of 78
Hissy, you have to ask your friend down the street where she got her Bobcat. I bet it was captured from the wild. I do not like the idea that your friend "locked' her bobcat in a room. Without that much human contact, of course it will act like that. Yes, Amber will have her wild genetic traits, just like any cat. Our domestics did not lose that. But, I spoke with many people who own a Bobcat from the breeder where we got Amber. All of them stated the same thing and I quote "My Bobcat is the best pet I ever owned". Some have outdoor enclosures as well, but most told me that their Bobcat did not like to stay outside, they wanted to be inside with their human companion. Hmmm, was the lady down the street ever home? It sounds to be that she had her cat as a "status symbol" and not as a pet. You can not be one of these people that works 12 hours a day and is never home. I know a lady who has 2 Bobcats. Her and her husband are truckers and the cats travel with them. One of her cats even likes to get in the bathtub with her, she sent me the pictures Amber gets so much attention, she is spoiled and she loves it.
post #18 of 78
Oops, I forgot one thing. I was wondering if that lady down the street had her Bobcat spayed or neutered. If not, that makes it worse. A cat not spayed or neutered can get very territorial.
post #19 of 78
Thread Starter 
AmberTB thanks for the answer. I agree with you on the stance of Circuses and performers. I dont think they should be allowed to buy and deal with large exotics. How is keeping one at home (provided you have the right facilities) any worse than making it dance around in front of a thousands of people?
With regard to the lady with the bobcat down the street: I doubt she was a very dedicated owner of the cat.
Im not saying that if you raise one with love/affection it will certainly be tame, just that if you take the time to research them and provide for them you shouldn't have to much of a problem.
One thing is for sure though... they should impliment strict laws about the purchase of exotics. Its just to easy to get your hands on one.

post #20 of 78
Actually she bought him off an exotic breeder. The cat had been neutered, and was only shut in the bedroom while they were at work, then it had full roam of the house. They had horses and other livestock there as well which might have been some of the problem as it could have triggered prey responses. The cat could see the goats and sheep and horses from his enclosure. No one could fault this woman for loving this cat, she did everything that she thought she could to care for him (except the declaw) She thought he would be an excellent "pet" he had other ideas. Heck she even had an indoor pond installed in her bedroom for him. But one day the bobcat lost it and went wild and attacked her son. Put him in the hospital (he was 27 years old at the time)ripped his shoulder apart. The cat was killed that day.
post #21 of 78
Wow! Hissy, That is so sad.

I just found this link about bobcats. The pictures and information are excellent.
post #22 of 78
Thread Starter 
Thats sad to hear Hissy. Are you pro declaw? Just wondering not judging.
post #23 of 78
Not at ALL! And I hope my post did not tell you otherwise. I meant that she cared for this cat with all the love she had, except for when she had him declawed. It is quite common even in zoos to have the big cats declawed but I will never believe it is anything less than torture for the big cats or the domestics who have to endure it. And I hope this doesn't turn into a declaw thread, lord knows we have enough of those by now.
post #24 of 78
Thread Starter 
Oh! Sorry for the confusion. I though you ment that she did not have him declawed, and that she should have. Glad we have that cleared up
Topic of declawing = closed

post #25 of 78
I don't think that just anyone should be able to own an exotic cat, but only people who have a liscense/training. I think that they should be made to be able to provide a living area of adequate space and cleanliness, and kept apart from humans. In a perfect world I would want these big cats to be strictly in their natural habitat, but for some cats it is much more dangerous to be in their native land than in a controlled area, so I think that it is necessary to have places like the zoo, or a private institution--but I don't think a single person should be allowed to be an owner. I definitely am against keeping big cats in a house, or in neighborhoods, or in any close quarters with people.
post #26 of 78
Here are a few of the critters I work with:



Amadeus and Hopa:

For my opinion: No, most people should not be allowed to have one of these large carnivores. Willie and Tigra are at our facility because someone thought they could raise a tiger cub and make money off it. When the animal gets older they realize how dangerous it is, and have to dump it somewhere. Hopa is there because some idiot thought a wolf would be "cool" to have. When she stopped acting like a dog (duh!) he didn't know how to handle her. When she escaped he just didn't bother to look for her. Fortunately she was found by animal control and we were able to save her. (She was emaciated at 35 lbs, had been hit by a car and had several broken bones, and was covered in industrial solvent from the ditch she had been hiding in. Two years later she's a healthy girl living comfortably in a home where she'll never have to leave.) By the way, I'm with a licensed sanctuary that houses quite a few of these big animals. This facility's mission includes education and species preservation.

I spent two hours in a meeting on Tuesday night with county officials helping rewrite the local laws to prevent private ownership of these animals. (This has been an ongoing project.) The Director of Animal Control asked me to give another training session to her personnel about the difference between the wolves and domestic dogs. I've done this before, but that was a while ago and there has been quite a bit of turnover in staff.

post #27 of 78

My hat is off to people of your caliber that rescue these animals. My problem comes with the breeders of these cats who are in the business for one reason to make money. If you want to own an exotic big cat, there are so many in need of a good place or sanctuary already. Why purchase a baby? That is my problem with this issue. So many of these cats are languishing in cages and deplorable conditions because of no quality place to go to. Yet there are people out there breeding more of them to sell as "pets" It makes no sense to me at all. And nothing anyone says in this thread or in the future will change my opinion on this matter.
post #28 of 78
I agree with you. These cats (and other dangerous "exotic" animals) are all to easily available. Anyone can buy a tiger cub, and the people that breed them for profit don't care if they're preserving a specific tiger sub-species, or just crossing two tigers no matter how closely related. Unfortunately, it's a very hard to regulate area here in the US. The federal government is limited in it's authority in this area and many states don't address this issue.

By the way, in the US any North American endangered species is under the authority of the US Department of Agriculture and ownership of these species is regulated and restricted. So, it's illegal to have a cougar without a federal license. (Actually, I believe it's also illegal to have a bobcat without a federal license, though this is difficult to enforce and is usually only addressed when requested by local authorities.)

post #29 of 78
Sometime ago a business tried to list with meowhoo. When I went to their website I was appalled at what I saw. Lists and lists of exotic animals for sale- snow leopards, tigers, lions, you name it they appeared to have it. They made a comment something along the lines of "If your credit card can carry the cost, our truck can haul the cargo!" I was so ticked off I wanted to scream. But I settled for denying them access to our website. I talked to a friend of mine who told me a lot of times, these types of places drug the babies to truck them and put up false partitions in the truck so they don't get caught. Especially when they go across state lines-
post #30 of 78
Yes, this whole area can be pretty bad. Proper transport is expensive and requires experience, permits and health certificates. Unfortunatlely, many times these animals (especially the young) are transported in the back of a pickup or in a van covered with a tarp.

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