10 Exotic Cat Breeds to Keep as Pets

Savannah Cat

Some people would like to keep exotic cat breeds as pets but assume it is illegal to keep any at home. They are partially right since, according to Big Cat Rescue, it is illegal to keep cheetahs, lions and tigers in the United States. However there are some exotic cat breeds you can keep, but there are some things you need to know. Some states may allow a particular breed to be kept as a pet, while others may not. Additionally, some states require you to have a license to keep one. Before you set out to adopt a certain cat, you must familiarize yourself with your state’s laws regarding owning one. You can familiarize yourself by looking at the state laws regarding ownership of exotic animals on an online platform called The Spruce Pets. With that out of the way, we can now identify the exotic animals that you can keep at home. Here are the ten exotic cat breeds that you can keep as pets.

10. Ocelot

Initially, it was illegal to own an ocelot because it was once an endangered cat. Though ocelots are no longer endangered animals, it does not mean that they are out of danger. According to Biological Diversity, it suffers threats from extinction such as habitat loss, human activities, feral dogs, etc. In general, ocelots are very sociable cats. That means they are always ready to play with you when you begin playing with them. However, there are instances when you may be unable to give them attention, e.g., when you fall sick and need rest. Failure to give them attention causes them to scream, which can become very noisy. So if you choose to own one, ensure that there are other people in the house with whom the ocelot can interact. Another thing to remember is that you cannot lock it at home like a domestic house cat. Your house must therefore have plenty of outdoor space for it to exercise by running around. The space should measure at least 900 square yards.

9. Caracal

Caracals can exhibit the same behavior as housecats such as playing and interact with the owner. The only difference is that caracals only play you when they feel like it. That means they can go for days without interacting with you. However, ignoring owners is something housecats sometimes do, which is not always a cause for alarm. Like ocelots, caracals need a vast space for playing. If you confine them in the house for too long, they will end up destroying items in the house such as furniture. As a way of safeguarding your house from damage from this cat, you can also buy or build a ‘catio’ for it. A catio is a patio for cats. When household cats hiss at us, we immediately know that they are angry. However, it is a different case with caracals. This cat hisses to communicate just about anything. So, the caracal can hiss at you as to signal that it is contented. The difference is that the affectionate hiss will not be as prolonged as an angry hiss.

8. Bobcat

When bobcats are raised in captivity, they turn out to be one of the most lovable cats you will ever see. They can even be friendly towards an animal they would normally consider prey if they were raised together. Even if you succeed at raising it to be docile, it is still one of the most unpredictable cat breeds. For instance, a random sound or movement outside may excite its wild instincts. When it begins to be wild, the best thing to do would be to lock it into a large outdoor cage cautiously. Although small, they possess the strength to kill an adult human. So, to protect yourself from any danger, it is always good to have a cage for this reason. In general, bobcats are introverted. So when you adopt them, they take a while to get used to playing with you. However, even if they do not play with you, they will not exhibit any aggression. Some owners may find their introverted nature a good thing since they tend to be peaceful since they spend most of their time sleeping. Unlike ocelots, they will not scream when they lack attention.

7. Asian Leopard Cat

The Asian leopard cat is about the same size as a domestic cat, except that it is more slender with longer legs. Unlike most cats in the wild, the Asian leopard cat can thrive in any habitat. According to Wild Cats Magazine, it can live in scrublands, tropical rainforests, semi-desert regions, and second-growth woodlands. That means this cat is unlikely to become endangered after destroying its habitat since it can live anywhere. When raised in captivity, the cat bonds deeply with the owner or family. The problem with this cat is that it tends to be reclusive. If you invite guests to your home, the cat will run away from them. That is because it prefers to interact only with people it bonded with. You have a choice never to invite guests to avoid stressing the cat or acquainting it with some of your guests. Bathing house cats is difficult since they fear water. As a result, you may end up getting bitten or scratched. Thankfully, the Asian leopard cat is the exact opposite of the house cat as it loves to play in the water. In their natural habitat, they sometimes hunt for prey in water. That explains why they have no qualms getting in the water.

6. Serval

Servals resemble cheetahs because they have spots and long legs; the only difference is that they are smaller. These cats tend to be aloof and quiet. If they encounter humans, they will run rather than attack. Since they avoid humans, it may take a while for them to get used to humans. These cats can bond with humans but tend to prefer to bond with only one person. However, if it bonds with the rest of the people in the household, consider yourself lucky to have an affectionate cat. However, it is risky to allow them to play with children. They are rough and tend to play with their claws and teeth. Servals eat a lot of animals in the wild, e.g., birds, rodents, insects, and frogs. Since they like to eat a variety of prey, you cannot feed this cat only steak. You must offer them various foods like seafood, birds, mice, eggs, etc.

5. Geoffroy’s Cat

This cat is among one of the smallest wild cat species. When fully grown, they only weigh about 4-8 pounds. Due to their miniature size, they rarely attack humans. However, since it is a wild cat, you need to treat it well since it can become quite destructive. Geoffroy’s cats are not that social and can be quite timid. However, they can bond with people if you give them the time and effort. Additionally, they do not like noisy environments. In a noisy setting, the cat may become nervous or aggressive. It is therefore advisable for a small family, e.g. of 3 to adopt the cat, rather than a family of 15. Another thing you should know about this cat is that it is nocturnal. As a result, it will actively play at night while you struggle to sleep through the noise it makes. Before you adopt this cat, you need a large outdoor enclosure so that it has space to play as much as it wants to. Additionally, the enclosure should be reinforced so that it does not dig its way out.

4. Canadian Lynx

Canadian lynxes resemble bobcats, but you can distinguish them. For instance, Canadian lynxes are grey with indistinct spotting, while bobcats are reddish-brown with distinct spotting. Unlike Asian leopard cats and Geoffroy’s cats, the Canadian Lynx has no problem interacting with human strangers. The cat is generally considered an easygoing one. Although it can exhibit temperamental fits, it is a rare occurrence. If you are a person who likes remaining indoors most of the time, it would be best to get this cat. Generally, Canadian lynxes are not eager to go for walks like other cats. The cat is considered one of the best climbers. Sometimes they spend a lot of time in trees so that they can pounce on animals like snow hares. Your outdoor enclosure should therefore be high enough to accommodate the climbing cat. There is also another purpose that the enclosure serves. Canadian lynxes tend to shed their fur a lot. If they spend time in your house, you will be forced to vacuum it frequently. Therefore, the outdoor enclosure should be where it spends most of its time.

3. Jungle Cat

Unlike several wild cats, the jungle cat is not nocturnal. It hunts in the early mornings and late afternoons. When you keep this cat, you will not have to worry about it making noise at night. Jungle cats usually hunt snakes, hares, gerbils, fish, frogs, and insects. However, it is a unique cat since it is one of the few cats that are partially omnivorous. During the winter, it feeds on fruits. The jungle cat is an excellent swimmer. For instance, it can swim up to 0.93 miles in water to catch fish. However, jungle cats do not jump into the water only to hunt. In fact, they love water and can spend quite some time in it. Due to its love for water, you will not have trouble bathing it. It is primarily a solitary animal, so it may take a while to get accustomed to people. When it does, it tends to be more affectionate with people it interacts with frequently than guests. Like Geoffroy’s cat, it would do well in a small family set up since it greatly values privacy.

2. Chausie Cat

This cat is a hybrid cat that is a mix between a jungle cat and a domestic cat. The cat was first bred and recognized in 1995. It is a medium to large cat with a silvery coat and athletic build. Unlike most wild cats, the Chausie cat is highly affectionate. The cat is extremely playful, especially as a kitten. So as it grows into an adult, it remains less playful. However, the adult Chausie cat remains more playful than your average house cat. Since the cat breed is active, you must constantly give it attention. So if you are a person who lives alone and spends most of the time away from home, it would not be advisable to adopt this cat. The beauty of this cat is that it can get along with dogs and other cats. That means you do not need to burden yourself with playing with the cat when you do not feel like it. Apart from being outgoing, the cat is extremely intelligent. Due to the cat’s intelligence, it is one of the easiest cats to train. For instance, you can train it to use the toilet, walk on a leash or jump through hoops.

1. Savannah Cat

The beauty of this cat is that you do not need a lot of space to accommodate it. You only need to ensure that there are places for it to run, hide and climb. All you need is a tree and a toy to engage it. Savannah cats are very active and like to scratch items. So, your home also needs plenty of scratcher toys and scratching posts. As it plays, you must remember that savannah cats get bored quickly. You must, therefore, ensure that the cat has either a feline or canine animal to play with. This cat is generally considered family-friendly. So, you do not need to worry about the cat injuring your children. Savannah cats are so affectionate that they will join you in bed.


Consider this article as a guide if you have been looking for an exotic cat breed to adopt and did not know which one to get. After identifying your preferred cat from this list, ensure that you confirm whether it is legal to own it in your state. Once you confirm that you can legally own it, the only burden remains caring for it. If you want to walk home to a friendly cat, you must ensure that you treat it properly.

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