If you’re looking for an answer if you should get a Siamese or a Maine Coon, this may not be the article you’re looking for, I’m sure there’s thousands that compare the different house cat breeds in detail.
But if you’re considering something a bit more wild, then read on.
Bobcat or Serval? Asian Leopard Cat or Bengal? Caracal or Maragay? Tiger or Puma? Ocelot or Savannah?
I’ll start with saying, if you’re considering a BIG cat such as Tigers, Lions, etc. – please make sure you know how to run a large Zoo or Animal Rescue place that can afford the immense amount of money and work that comes with them.
Also, super exotic cats like the Maragay, Ocelot, or even the Asian Leopard Cat are not only very hard to find, they’re not one bit domesticated in terms of habits and sociability. They will spray and defecate more than other midsize wildcats, in all kinds of places, may not be interested in socializing with you or your family at all, or become aggressive even, especially at mating times or when they had young – if you”re thinking about breeding them and then cuddling their babies, think again – unless you’re a specialist in the field , this might not work out one bit as you imagined. You might even have problems getting an exotic animal Vet to tend to them because of their lack of socialization towards certain people who are trained in the field like the people in Zoos. So these kind of wildcats need very VERY careful consideration before acquiring.
Now with midsize cats that are definitely considered exotic and “wild”, such as Servals, Caracals, and Bobcats, these are easier to keep, but many considerations should be thought through well and long before making a decision on which or IF one of these are a good fit for you.
Servals are super hyper cats. In the wild they run A LOT. They have a very large span of “territory” or land that they roam for food etc. So keeping one in a rather small cage, or god forbid in a cellar (yes, that actually happened, and they were rescued and placed in an animal rescue place, obese and sick) – that’s simply put not humane
Same goes for any bigger cat really, even small house cats would love to have some outdoor space to run around in safely. But Servals’ in particular are very active cats that like to run around, jump, and be entertained a lot. If you don’t have the time or means to provide proper running chances and lots of playful activities, you should really think if you’re doing anyone any favors getting one. Is it JUST because you want one? Are you wiling to let it suffer because of your own selfish need? Sounds harsh, but I would like to think that us cat lovers all want for our kitties to be happy, not get all kinds of joint, bone, and weight related disease sooner rather than later because we could’nt keep them the way they should have been kept.
Caracals on the other hand, though still needing space to roam and run, are not as demanding, not as hyperactive in comparison. Some like to compare them to dogs with their comparibly laid-back attitude.
Bobcats, also more laidback and calm than the Serval, are another interesting breed of wildcat. With their short tails and natural climbing inclination, they could probably do with a somewhat smaller enclosure, though not by much. If you have a pool, they might use it as a toilet as their instincts in the wild are to hide their scents. Hide it enough to do their business in a body of water, but not enough to kee them from spraying on everything and everyone. That’s just a universal feline trait you can expect from any cat, big or small.
All 3, Serval, Caracal, and Bobcat, therefore should have a decent outdoor enclosure, lots of activities, lots of socialization with you, your family, and a qualified veterinarian as to not react aggressive when they need medical help (which they all do, eventually, so don’t put or shrug it off!)
They all need a LOT of fresh meat every day, think about 1-3lbs diverse meats per cat per day. Preferably game, because that’s what they would eat in their natural habitat. Bones, joints, cartilage, everything. Raw, clean, fresh, and again, DIVERSE! Giving them some parts of the neighborhood markets’ chicken everyday will NOT suffice, they will get sick, and/or get brittle bones, etc. If you cannot provide a good and fresh variety of different animals for your cat to eat, please stick to a “normal” cat, because exotics WILL get sick.
If you want an exotic looking cat with a milder attitude and less demands, Bengal and Savannah cats should fit that bill. Maybe even a Caracat if you can find one.
Savannahs are descendants from Servals, Bengals from Asian Leopard Cats, Caracats from Caracals. If you want something as close to wild as it gets without getting an actual exotic, and still considered a house cat in many states, an F1 – meaning first generation cat might be worth considering.
Getting an F1 to F3 cat or kitten still needs to be considered carefully because they might still have some traits that are more wildcat than housecat. Wildcats spray. On stuff, on the house, ,on the furniture, on you, just anywhere they please. The higher the generation of hybrid cat, the higher the chance they will do the same. Same goes for wild cat behavioral traits such as minimal socialization, aggressive behavior, clawing everything in sight (some do, some don’t), and the chance of zero interest in you or your family or even aggression towards, when in heat, when with kittens, or when found a mating partner.
In Short – wild cats are unpredictable. Some might have some and think there’s nothing better in this world, and have no problems with behavior, others have them for a few years and feel the need to “give them away” because they can’t handle them anymore due to one or twenty “behavioral issues” they may have developed (read: normal wild cat behavior they didn’t want them to have).
Unless you’re prepared to deal with just about anything that MIGHT happen with your big kitty, exotic hybrid, or any animal really, you might want to (really should) reconsider. Even with a Savannah. Even with a Bengal. F1 or F8 might not even matter. Unless it’s been a hundred years that this cats generation has seen a wildcat, it might still express some “wildcat” behaviors, especially spraying. Instincts die hard and slow. I hear Ragdolls are an excellent choice for a calm and sweet mannered kitty 😉