Hello, discerning cat lover. You adore cats, yet a regular old tabby just doesn’t cut it for you. No, you’re after something a little more wild, instantly breathtaking, a feline that nobody else in your neighborhood has ever laid eyes on. What you seek lies in this little collection of exotic cat breeds.
But wait, what exactly are exotic cats? Are you even allowed to live with them?
Well, it depends.
What we call exotic cat breeds fall into a few different categories – one of them, for example, are actual wildcats like the bobcat or the puma. You probably don’t want to live with one of these, keeping exotic cats for pets often doesn’t end well.
Lucky for us exotic cat lovers, there are also two categories of exotic cat breeds that we can raise and love: hybrid cats and domestic cats with wildcat looks.
Hybrid cats are simply cats that have a history of cross-breeding between a domestic cat and a true wild cat like ocelots, servals, caracals and even lions and tigers! The result? Absolutely stunning exotic house cats with wild blood running through his veins – but without the danger. See the full list of hybrid cat breeds!
Don’t love the blood-of-a-wildcat thing? Domestic cats with wildcat looks might be just your cup of catnip. These exotic domestic cats are 100% domestic feline but you wouldn’t know it by looking at them. They look wonderfully wild but act mercifully mild.
We’ve compiled the best of both types of liveable-and-lovable exotic cat breeds into this list. You’ll want to read it
The exotically gorgeous Bengal is a cross between a domestic cat and an Asian Leopard Cat. And true to its wild heritage, the Bengal can be a lot to handle, with its super high energy levels, exceptional athleticism, and abundance of smarts.
But it is also a load of fun and can be trained, taken for walks and even swims! Read more about the Bengal.
The Chausie is a exceptional hybrid between the Egyptian Jungle Cat (Felix chaus) and either the domestic shorthair or the Abyssinian. This mix results in a fearless feline that’s exceptionally fast on its feet and capable of heart-stopping feats of athleticism, like leaping six feet into the air! The Chausie cat is extremely clever, too, which means it’ll be able to navigate to the highest, most out-of-reach spots around the house…better stash away your valuables. Read more about the Chausie.
Fierce-looking and large – it can weigh as much as 20 lbs – the Maine Coon looks a lot like a feral bobcat. But whereas no one really knows how it came to be, the Maine Coon is as domestic as they come – loving, affectionate, and patient. It’s even got some wildcat traits, too, with top-notch hunting skills and the willingness to explore the water and the outdoors on a leash. Read more about the Maine Coon.
The Ocicat’s exotic, wildcat looks are a tad deceptive since it doesn’t have a drop of wild DNA in its genes – the Ocicat is actually the result of an experimental breeding program that paired a seal-point Siamese with a ruddy-colored Abyssinian. As such, its nature is pure domestic feline, friendly and affectionate. But the Ocicat is not just an indoor kind of cat – it’s also adventurous and playful and can be taken out on walks…with a leash, of course. Read more about the Ocicat.
Despite its wild looks, it’s not true that the Pixie Bob originated from the accidental pairing of a wild bobcat and a domestic cat. The Pixie Bob is actually the result of an experimental breeding program that very intentionally produced a cat breed that resembled a bobcat but descended purely from domestic lines. But the Pixie Bob is more like a canine than a feline – domestic or otherwise – with its ability to be trained, taken for walks on a leash, and its high level of devotion to its humans. Read more about the Pixie Bob.
The Savannah came to be when a hefty 30-pound African Serval was paired with a lightweight 8-pound Siamese Sealpoint. Since then the breed has been outcrossed with Domestic and Oriental Shorthairs, Ocicats and Egyptian Maus to develop the modern Savannah cat breed we know and love today – beautiful, athletic, and smart. The Savannah cat can be taught to walk on a leash and has the ability to jump 8 feet straight into the air and even master tricks like ‘fetch’ and ‘sit’. Read more about the Savannah.
The Serengeti looks very wild and that was the intention to begin with. You see, the Serengeti is the brainchild of a conservation biologist who wanted to create wild-looking felines from domestic parents to meet the demands of cat fanciers jumping on the exotic pet bandwagon, thus protecting wild cat species from capture and domestication. The experimental breeding program aimed for the look of the Serval and was successful in producing it through breeding Bengals and Oriental Shorthairs. The result is the Serengeti, a highly active, devoted cat breed. Read more about the Serengeti.
The Sokoke is a naturally occurring breed that hails from the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Preserve, right in the heart of Kenya’s coastal zone. They’ve been thriving in the forests for as long as the natives remember ’til they were ‘discovered’ by a horse breeder who mistook them as wildcats and were surprised by their docile personality. The Sokoke is now considered a domestic cat breed – loving, smart, and bonding closely with its humans – but it’s also one of the rarest cat breeds in the world and not easy to get your hands on. Read more about the Sokoke.