The savannah, the most popular, is bred from a serval, a cheetah-like wildcat found in Africa. It can grow three times larger than a domestic cat and can jump 7ft vertically.
Another breed to have arrived in Britain is the safari, produced by mating a domestic cat with a South American Geoffroy’s Cat. There are also plans by breeders to import the caracat, descended from a caracal, a lynx-like wildcat found in the Middle East and Africa. The savannah is banned in some US states and in Australia, where there were concerns it could kill koalas.
In Britain, the “first generation” of savannah and safari cats descended from wildcats can only be kept under licence and in outdoor cages, in accordance with the Dangerous Wild Animals Act (DWAA). Subsequent generations, however, can be kept as normal pets.
Peter Neville, an expert in pet behaviour from the Feline Advisory Bureau (FAB), said: “Cats are predators. I wouldn’t be happy with a savannah around a small child, because of their genes and their size.
“They are going to do a lot more damage than a normal domestic cat. Their paws are bigger, they are stronger and they will bite deeper. Just because you can tame one, doesn’t mean you can tame all.”
Claire Bessant, from the FAB, said: “This is a scary trend. The savannah is a big cat that is close to the wild. We are introducing something that is likely to have issues and it worries me a lot."
An RSPCA spokesman said: “The savannah cat is likely to exhibit a range of temperamental characteristics from both domestic cats and the wildcat species, and as such could prove to be dangerous.”
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Posted 25 September 2009 - 05:38 AM