Exotic cat ownership is definitely not for everyone. It requires a serious dedication of a person's life and livelihood to ensure a happy and healthy existence, which can be as long as 15 to 20 years. Below are just a sample of the things you SHOULD think about and develop answers to before you get that cute kitten that you saw in the paper or at the breeder's house:

1)Why are you doing this? Is it an ego boost, something spontaneous to do today, or you wanted to impress/scare your neighbors with this big bad animal?

None of these are good answers, and a responsible breeder will hopefully never give you what you want.

2) Are you prepared? Are you in an area that will allow exotic pet ownership? Do you know what to feed them? And other questions.

Do your homework. If you are in a state or county that does not allow exotic ownership, you are endangering the life of any cat that you get. You run the risk of having the cat put down, sometimes by force, by animal control, the department of Fish & Game, the police, or other agency if they either cannot contain the animal when they come to confiscate it. And even if they do successfully confiscate it, it will put the animal under severe stress that it may not recover from. If there are caging specifications that you must abide by, find out what they are. If there are permits that you need to get, GET THEM. Make sure you have found a veterinarian that will treat your cat. Not all are willing or capable of handling an exotic cat. What kind of cat are you interested in: a bobcat, a cougar, a serval, a lion, or a tiger? Have you ever met one in person? What do they eat? How much do they eat? Will they eat your other pets? Exotic cats are not and will never be vegetarians. They have special dietary needs that must be met to ensure a healthy and long life. The best way to find these things out, is to join LIOC-ESCF, Inc., and if there is a local branch , which we are, in your area, join it. You can do the research on your own, but you are less likely to make mistakes if you get to know others who have experience in these areas.

3) Is your income and other life factors stable?

This may seem like a rude question, but depending on the size of the animal, it can cost a couple of dollars/day up to $20-$50/day for the much larger cats. And, if you're planning on having more than one.... Also don't forget the vet bills, the caging, and all cats will require some sort of caging, and frequently new furniture as you cat-proof your house. What happens if you lose your job, decide to move to another state, or have a family emergency? Most domesticated exotics frequently live into their teens and some live to be much older, what happens if they outlive you? Do you ever plan on taking a vacation outside of your house again? Is there someone you can trust to take care of your charges, should anything happen? Don't think that your local zoo will do it for you either, unless you plan to give them $1 million. Their space is limited and even if they might need that species, if the joy of your life is neutered, it is useless to the zoo and most zoos have a hands-off policy with their animals, so it's not fair to a pet who is used to daily play time and possibly even sleeping in the bed with you. And don't think the cat can be released into the wild to fend for itself. That's as good as giving it a death sentence.

4) How much time and energy do you think is necessary to have an exotic cat?

Do you work 8-5, overtime, 12 hour shifts or are you almost never at home? Exotic cats generally need a lot of face-to-face time and different stimuli to be well socialized towards humans. They can also go through assorted stages, some involving not letting their feet touch the ground, the ceiling, sure, but the ground, never! Imagine for a second, what a 20 lb. or 150 lb. cat would do to your dining room table, the television set, and the couch as they bounce around chasing invisible objects around the room. Read about LIFE WITH BOB THE BOBCAT , to get an idea of what it could be like. Most cats reach 80% of their full size by their first birthday and they generally reach physical and sexual maturity during their 2nd year. This means they may suddenly take up spraying objects in or around the house, even if they are neutered, and their personality may change varying across the spectrum from no change to a severe change depending on both the cat's species and individual personality that can't always be predicted before hand. You have to be prepared for the possibility that the as he/she gets older, they may not like anyone, possibly even you, or like only you, and/or your immediate family and may not take kindly to friends or strangers in their home turf.

5) Do you have or want other pets?

Exotic cats have been known to live companionably when raised with other types of pets. However, this is not always the case. You should be prepared for the very real possibility of having to permanently segregate your pets. Even if they get along when the cat is smaller, as it grows it may intentionally or unintentionally hurt your other pets through territoriality or just playing.


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