Big Cat in NJ - Part 3

03/19/2010

This week I've written a few posts about an odd animal sighting near my home town in New Jersey: a large, long-tailed cat that has been spotted chasing deer.

You've shared your thoughts on what it could be, and I've shared some of the cat species that this mystery animal could potentially be.  While we'll probably never know for sure what it actually is, I would put my money on it being a hybrid of a domestic cat and an exotic wild cat. 

Savannah_cat_standing In recent years, these hybrids have become trendy pets.  They are more exotic looking than true domestic cats and many are much larger too--just check out the photo to the right to see what I mean. There are several types that go by various names.  There are savannah cats (African serval hybrids), bengal cats (Asian leopard cat hybrids), safari cats (South American Geoffroy's cat hybrids), Chausies (Asian jungle cat hybrids) and a few others. 

If the witness reports of the cat spotted in New Jersey last week are accurate, the animal has a long tail, which rules out a bobcat.  In my mind, it's much more likely that the cat is an escaped hybrid pet than it is that it's a mountain lion that wandered in on its own or escaped from captivity.

Now, before you get all excited about the possibility of getting one of these cats as a pet, be aware that there are some serious issues with breeding and owning these hybrids and their descendants.  Here's a video from Scott Lope of Big Cat Rescue, Animal Planet's 2009 Hero of the Year, discussing some of the issues surrounding these hybrid cats.

Photo source: 105.1 The Buzz Blog


David Mizejewski is a naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation. His goal is to inspire others to appreciate the wonders of nature. Meet David >
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