What You Need to Know About Legal Exotic Cats Page 2

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legal exotic cats

The smaller sized exotic cats that are sometimes kept as pets in the United States are not animals that would tend to prey on humans. These legal exotic cats can make reasonable pets for the right owners, but they’re not for everyone. Let us tell you about some of the more popular exotic cat species that can legally be kept as pets in the United States.

Wild cat breeds are quite expensive, with prices ranging anywhere from $1,500 to $20,000. Also, the amount of money that you would have to spend on care and upkeep with legal exotic cats is much higher than you would pay for a regular cat breed. Veterinary expenses can also add up quickly as these cats require special health care from a veterinarian specializing in zoo animals.

If you are interested in owning one of these animals, you should find out about your state’s laws regarding the keeping of exotic cats.

Here are some of the most popular exotic cats.


Originating in Africa, servals are popular legal exotic cats in the USA. The serval has a spotted coat and its legs are long in comparison to its body. Some will compare the serval to a cheetah because of its appearance, but in actuality it is much shorter than a cheetah.

The serval is a medium-sized cat. Aloof and quiet, they will flee from average-sized humans and have never been known to kill a human. They prefer small animal prey such as birds, rodents or small antelopes.

The serval cat is not an avid climber, and as such it is easier to confine than some other legal exotic cats. It communicates primarily by hissing and on average will eat two to three pounds of meat a day.


Native to South America, the ocelot is a small wild cat with beautiful markings. These legal exotic cats are very rare in the pet trade, so they are difficult to acquire. Compared to other wild cats, they are more challenging to maintain as pets. An ocelot will not pay attention to disciplinary commands.


This stocky, medium-sized cat is native to North America. Of all the legal exotic cats, the bobcat will bond strongly with their owners. But bobcats possess the strength to kill an adult human. They are short and muscular, and they hunt fully-grown deer in the wild. This legal exotic cat should be heavily supervised around children or kept away from them altogether.

When a bobcat is raised in captivity, it can become lovable. Bobcats can even be friends with deer when raised with them since kittens. They are also very affectionate to dogs.

But never forget that bobcats are not harmless. They have their times of aggression, which is why they should be kept in a large, sturdy outdoor cage during these times.

Canadian Lynx

Native to the northern parts of North America, the Canadian Lynx has thick fur and is prone to shedding.

These legal exotic cats are active climbers, and they prefer to be at high points in the home. Because this is a climbing animal, their enclosures should be designed appropriately to contain the cat.

While the Canadian lynx does not form a devoted relationship with their human, they are easy going (their temperamental fits are less severe) and good with strangers. This cat is not eager to go on walks.

There is also a Siberian lynx which is a little different from the Canadian lynx.


Native to Africa and Asia, the caracal is a type of lynx with a personality similar to a serval. Fully grown it will stand 16 to 17 inches at the shoulder and it will weigh 30 to 50 pounds.

Caracals communicate primarily by hissing, which can sound threatening. But they are somewhat well mannered with a traditional cat attitude. These legal exotic cats are known to play and interact with their owners, but strictly on their own terms. But be careful – their play can be destructive to furniture and household objects.

A caracal will eat about 2 to 3 pounds of meat per day and in captivity he will live to be about 17 years old.

Geoffroy’s Cat

This small cat is native to southern and central South America. Geoffroy’s cats are among the smallest wild cat species, weighing only 4 to 8 pounds when fully grown. Because of their small size they present no public safety threat to humans.

The Geoffroy’s cat is relatively rare in the cat trade. This cat can be rather timid and less social. They can become nervous and aggressive, especially when they reach sexual maturity.

Asian Leopard Cat

Shy and elusive, this nocturnal cat is wary of humans. They make poor house pets. They do best when left to themselves in a large enclosure. If humans interact with them often enough these legal exotic cats can be tame enough to interact with them.

The Asian leopard cat is responsible for the existence of the popular Bengal cat. (Bengals are legal in most states.)

Jungle Cat

This large, nervous cat is native to Asia, Sri Lanka and Egypt. This species is used to produce hybrids with domesticated cats. In captivity, the jungle cat will live to be 15 to 20 years old.

They are fragile cats that would require a lot of privacy in a quiet household or be housed in a well-sized outdoor enclosure most of the time.

To learn more about exotic cats, go to Everything Cat Lovers Need to Know About Exotic Cats.