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What to Know Before Adopting an Exotic Cat

July 15, 2021

Are you dreaming of owning an exotic cat, like a lion or tiger? It sounds like a wonderful idea, but in reality, things may be quite different than you expect. Even though you’re able to find exotic cats for sale, you should really think twice before buying one of these big kitties. Below, a local veterinarian discusses some things to know before adopting an exotic cat.

Price

You can spend thousands of dollars on an exotic cat. The exact price varies on the kind of kitty you’re buying. Mid-sized cats, such as Servals, range in price from about $1700 to $3000. Ocelots can cost as much as $15,000, while Tiger cubs (now illegal in many areas) can be about $7500.

Space

Typical housecats can live just fine in a smaller space, like an apartment. However, exotic cats are much larger and more energetic, thus requiring a lot more room. You might need to build quite a fairly sized enclosure for your new pet. Remember that felines aren’t happy in an empty pen or cage. You’ll need to have plenty of big cat furniture and toys.

Laws

Depending on where you live, laws on owning exotic pets vary from area to area. For example, Savannah cats are illegal in many states, but not in all of them. If you live in a community that has an HOA, you may need to check their regulations. You’ll also need to consider this if you eventually move to another area.

Veterinary Care

Another thing to consider is that you must find a good vet that is experienced with exotic cats. Most veterinarians are highly trained at providing care for domestic cats. But, exotic cats have different needs.

Ethics

We understand the attraction to exotic pets: they’re majestic, beautiful, unique, and fascinating. However, most of them aren’t suitable pets. This goes for big cats, too. Rather than adopting an exotic pet, consider donating to a reputable rescue.

Behavior

Don’t think that a big cat will act like a domestic one. Some exotic cats don’t like litter boxes, while others don’t enjoy being handled. Ocelots, for example, really don’t like domestication, and have a habit of ignoring commands … even more than the typical housecat.

Compromise

In this case, you may have to make a compromise and consider getting a Bengal. Even though these adorable and charismatic cats are considered exotic, they’re only as big as the average housecat!

Our Advice on What to Know Before Adopting an Exotic Cat in 2024

What are the potential dangers of owning an exotic cat, both to the owner and the public?

Owning an exotic cat poses significant dangers to both the owner and the public. These include unpredictable behavior leading to possible aggression or attacks, which can result in injury or worse. Exotic cats, being wild animals, have specific environmental and dietary needs that are difficult to meet in a home setting, leading to potential health issues for the cat. The risk of diseases that can be transmitted to humans (zoonotic diseases) increases. Additionally, if an exotic cat escapes, it can pose a threat to local wildlife and the community’s safety.

How do exotic cats differ from domestic cats in terms of lifespan and long-term care needs?

Exotic cats often have longer lifespans and more complex long-term care needs compared to domestic cats. They require specialized diets that mimic their natural prey, extensive space to roam and exercise, and environments that cater to their instinctual behaviors. Their healthcare needs are also more demanding, necessitating veterinarians with specific expertise in exotic species. Additionally, the stress of captivity can lead to behavioral and health issues not commonly seen in domestic cats. Overall, the commitment to properly care for an exotic cat is substantial, both in terms of time and resources.

What should be considered when seeking veterinary care for an exotic cat?

When seeking veterinary care for an exotic cat, it’s crucial to find a veterinarian with specific expertise in exotic species. These professionals are trained to address the unique health needs and challenges of exotic cats, including specialized diets, behaviors, and potential diseases. Consider the proximity of the vet to your location, as exotic cats may require frequent or emergency visits. It’s also important to discuss the long-term healthcare plan, including vaccinations, parasite control, and any necessary permits. If you’re in Fort Myers, FL, our clinic offers specialized care for exotic pets and welcomes your inquiries.

What are the consequences of releasing or surrendering an exotic cat?

Releasing or surrendering an exotic cat has significant consequences. Released exotic cats often lack the skills to survive in the wild, leading to a high risk of suffering and death. They can also pose a threat to local ecosystems by predating on native species or competing for resources. Surrendering to shelters or rescues burdens these facilities due to the specialized care required, and finding a new, suitable home can be challenging. Additionally, legal ramifications may arise from releasing non-native species or failing to comply with exotic pet ownership laws.

What should exotic cat owners do in case of an emergency, such as an escape or medical issue?

Exotic cat owners should be prepared for emergencies. In case of escape, immediately notify local authorities and animal control to prevent potential dangers to the public and the cat. For medical issues, contact a veterinarian experienced with exotic species for prompt and appropriate care. Have a well-equipped emergency kit on hand and familiarize yourself with nearby emergency veterinary services. Planning and preparation are crucial to ensure the safety and well-being of both the exotic cat and the community.

Before you buy an exotic cat, consult with your local Edison Park, FL vet!

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